The children of Syrians who have escaped the ongoing violence in their country and sought refuge in Turkey have been changing their names to avoid using the name “Bashar” in protest of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is perpetrating brutal violence against his own people in the country.
Syrian children have witnessed the atrocities taking place during the prolonged Syrian crisis, in which more than 9,000 people have died according to the UN, as Syrian troops continue to indiscriminately shell rebels and civilians. They are now struggling to leave everything behind in Turkey.
About 150 Syrian children are continuing their education in a Turkish school in Hatay, where the teachers are predominantly Syrian. Fifteen children, all of them named Bashar, are not using their names. Instead of Bashar, they prefer to go by the Turkish name “Beşir.”
In response to a question by a Today's Zaman reporter as to whether his name was Bashar, 5-year-old Bashar harshly responded with, “Bashar is a liar, I am Beşir.”
Bashar's mother, Rabia Samir, said her child was disgusted with what he had witnessed in Syria and no longer wants to use the name “Bashar,” even though he is still very young. Samir added: “When we call him Bashar, he becomes angry and responds, ‘I am Beşir!' so we call him Beşir now. There are many other children who have reacted the same way as Bashar at school.”
Many Syrians have lost their lives in the brutal and violent clashes between forces loyal to Assad and the opposition that have been going on now for over a year.
Turkey has established tent cities in a number of southern provinces, among them Hatay, Gaziantep and Kilis, to provide accommodation for the Syrians. “The number of Syrians who have come to our country to seek shelter so far is 29,301. The number of Syrians who have returned to Syria is 13,222. As of today, there are 14,329 Syrian refugees in Hatay, 1,159 in Gaziantep and 958 in Kilis, making a total of 14,446,” Fuat Oktay, the president of the Prime Ministry's Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD), said in an interview with Today's Zaman in late March.