Sitting in the middle of a pile of rubble, in Ghouta, Syria, is a group of children.
They hold up their right hand to show they are present, that their lives count for something. A little girl in a pink woollen cap holds up a piece of paper with a hashtag: #IAmStillAlive.
When Ahmad Hamdan, a 26-year-old Syrian activist and filmmaker launched the hashtag on March 2, he did it with a post on his Facebook page: “We’re still alive, living here between death, siege or bombardment. I invite the whole world to stand by us. We launch our campaign today: #IAmStillAlive.”
His mission was simple - to show the world that civilians in Syria were alive, resilient, and trying to get from one day to the next.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called the situation in eastern Ghouta as “hell on Earth”. Around 511,000 people have already been killed in the Syrian war, which is entering its eighth year today.
But as of yesterday, Hamdan could not hold up his hand or use the hashtag he created, to show he was persevering.
Activists close to him shared the news of his death on social media, stating he died in an airstrike on Hamouria, by the Bashar Al Assad regime.
The news sent shockwaves among those following his initiative on twitter.
Twitter user @OneMajority wrote: “One of the (many) victims killed today in Hamouria was the beloved activist Ahmad Hamdan, who was known for starting the #IAmStillAlive social media campaign, and practicing peaceful resistance. Another good soul returns to God.”
But even after Hamdan’s demise, the movement he started is drawing the attention of global online users to the bloodshed in his homeland. Children and adults in Ghouta are continuing to post pictures of themselves, hands raised.
The drive has also gained international attention, as people from the U.S., UK, and across the world post pictures of themselves with the hashtag, in solidarity for those suffering in Syria.
Twitter user @amer_almohibany wrote: “400,000 trapped people are living in underground basements and cellars, living among death between siege and nonstop air raids. If you want to stand with us, please take a photo of yourself, like I have, and post it on Twitter say: “I stand with you. #Iamstillalive.”
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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