Halla Barakat is a North Carolina girl. Daughter of immigrants, millennial, educated college-graduate young woman. She’s a reporter and journalist. Sounds like the American dream, doesn’t it? Everything any American family could dream of in a daughter. Yet, somehow, this bright young woman is found senselessly murdered in cold blood in her apartment in Istanbul,Turkey at the age of 23 with her lawyer mother, 60-year-old, Ourouba Barakat.
The world shook as the news of this young American women is killed in her, what was supposed to be a safe apartment. She and her mother weren’t victims to a burglary gone wrong, nor was it at the hands of ISIS, which her friend Kayla Mueller, an Arizonan, had succumbed to in 2015. But rather, she died at hands of the ultimate beneficiary: Bashar Al-Assad, the brutal Syrian dictator, murder and war criminal.
Now a little refresher: One may ask, what does the Syrian president have to do with this young, strong, educated young women’s death in Turkey? It’s quit simple actually. Why is Assad accused of murder and war crimes to begin with? Well, because he has declared war on the People of Syria for speaking out, he has oppressed them. Yes, just like that #taketheknee of the NFL for example. In Syria you would be killed for such defiance and protest, and Syrians could only dream of such an action. Just a reminder of how good we have it here in the U.S. The people of Syria have stood up for their God-given rights of expression, free press, free speech, free trade, right to have different political groups and opinions, the right to a true representative government and not a pseudo family descendent monarchy/mafia.
The brutal killing of Halla Barakat and her mother is an absolute tragic loss. The reporter for Orient News and her mother, a lawyer, lying dead in their apartment, covered in what reports have been calling a liquid “preservatives or lime” in order to hide the smell of their innocent decaying bodies. Their murders were heinous, and it was intended to put fear not into the Syrian people, for that you have Syrian and Russian war planes to drop bombs on them to suppress them to keep them scared and unsure of what lies, of torture and death tomorrow. Not to mention on the ground Iranian militants and Hezbollah, I like to call “Hezbsatan” a.k.a Party of Satan. But that’s all for inside Syria. What does Assad do far outside of Syria? For that you have the fear of being killed, yes, to be assassinated, to set fear inside those outside of Syria who support a free and democratic Syria. Like myself, a Colorado boy running his parents small business and like Halla Barakat. So whether your Syrian or your an American. No one is safe from Assad’s reach now.
An Assassination operation in Istanbul? Where does it end? For how long do we have to endure Assad lawlessness, war mongering, not to mention crimes against humanity from starvation to straight up assassination of Americans. Every American was born to stand up for the sick, elderly, the less fortunate and the oppressed. What happens when we start to become the targets of an oppressive murderous dictator? Imagine, for one second that Kim Jon Un of North Korea, who has by the way sold chemical weapons to Assad via Iran and are good friends. Imagine, if they started assassinating Americans not in North Korea but rather in Europe or even in our own homeland the U.S.A. Americans to be killed for speaking out on the ruthlessness of the North Korean regime? How is that even fathomable? It’s sad that Assad has started to do just that. Killing for your words of freedom, justice, and a Free Syria. What’s going to stop the regime from sending thugs to kill on foreign soil? Obviously Istanbul isn’t safe anymore to Americans. Whose to say that it can’t happen in France, Germany, Spain or even here at home in the Land of the Free?
Halla Barakat was the standard bearer of what America stands for, and she expressed it in the most American way she knew. She spoke out, she would write, like I am now. She would report about the tragedies of Syria and the atrocities of the Assad regime including the assassinations of those who died before her, at the hands of Assad’s thugs. Who would have ever thought that she would succumb to the same tragic ending as those she reported on, just like I am now,in writing about her death. Will someone else be writing about my death, my own demise at the hands of the same people I am warning you about? At the hands of the Assad regime? Is this where the Crisis in Syria has taken us? Where an American citizen living in the United States now has to fear of writing about oppression and murder of another a foreign dictator. As American-millennial born and raised here at home, do I now have to consider my own protection against the Assad regime?
Halla Barakat, your voice is only louder now. Much louder then I think you would have ever expected. Your message of freedom and justice will only grow. We will never forget you and all you have done. Halla, you will be dearly missed for your bravery, innocence and conviction. A lesson you learned as an American and your an example of that true American spirit. Your words were your weapon. Your loss is painful and has shaken all us Americans to our core. Your death has certainly shaken and me. For, I can’t see you without seeing myself. Wondering if that could have been me. You have touched the hearts of millions across the world, and your smile left us with hope for the future. Halla, we will honor you and your mother for the ultimate price you paid and will hold up that torch of freedom you held up high! We will never forget you. That’s a promise.
Obeid Kaifo is a first-generation Syrian-American, Muslim millennial born in L.A. and raised in Aurora and Denver. His parents are from Aleppo; he’s the son of a small-business owner. Kaifo is a National Board Member of the Syrian American Council. He is one of the co-founders of Coalition for an Inclusive Colorado, creating and supporting community events that protect and respect the rights of those who wish to call Colorado home.