Empowering Civil Society, for a Syrian Democratic Future

Gaziantep, Turkey: Having three programs in order to support the Syrian civil society, Baytna Syria has been doing huge effort from its one-year-old headquarters in the Turkish city of Gaziantep.

We are working for a democratic future, the war and civil society are very hard to operate together. At the beginning it was a revolution it turned to an armed conflict that doesn’t mean the revolution has stopped. It is a revolution on the corruption and principles that El Ba’ath party established in Syria and this is what the civil society will fix. we don’t depend on politicians we depend on civil society. “ Said Omar Alkhani, the Communication and Events Officer of Baytna Syria.

Byatna Syria, which translates in Arabic to our home is Syria started in 2013 as a project funded by the Denmark. In 2016 it was registered as an organisation in Turkey which works with a full power of Syrian staff through three different projects Hub, Knowldge and Grants.

Connection and Education

Through a variety of lectures, events, programs and grants the organisation is empowering the Syrian civil society whether it was inside or outside of Syria. 

Outside Syria and specifically in Gaziantep, events are organised so that people of same professions get connected and know each other for better cooperation..The organisation doesn’t only connect Syrians together but also Turks and Syrians in a trial of a better integration for Syrians in the Turkish society. Workshops are organised in different disciplines to help develop Syrians who are living now in Turkey. There are also surveys conducted to know the needs of the comunity.

Our programs are so diverse they start with politics and ends in medical events,” said AlKhani “we also act as an incubator in which people come and connect, for example, musicians or graphic designers come and meet each other and they might do cooperative work later that we can support” he added

Believing in the right of people to know and that youth should learn how to discuss with each other and with politicians from different points of view, Baytna Syria organises open discussions with guests from diverse political and ideological views 

What differs Baytna Syria from any other place is the fact that we host people from all points of view here. They can speak and the attendees can listen and discuss with them. Usually one has to go to different places to have an idea about all points of view but we have all of them in one place, we believe in the right of people to know” Explained AlKhani

Inside Syria, grants are offered by the Baytna Syria Grants program in order to support civil society projects in cities that are controlled by the rebels. Training is conducted whether inside Syria or through the internet in case of finding a trainer inside was difficult. 

A Long Run Hope

The impact of the work that Baytna Syria is doing, is not only about newly established projects that will help Syrians to aquire better skills to survive whether inside or outside of Syria but also the impact is aimed to be in the long run It is aimed to be more effective when the armed conflict comes to an end.

When students, for example, get used to coming here and attending political discussions, when they know that politicians are here to serve them and not to be their boss, when they learn how to respect others point of view, this generation after a while will understand how to respect others and listen to them, they will know there is a democratic way to discuss the issues. This is how a civil society is built” said Alkhani

The role of the civil society is huge and it is supposed to be the area where people freely contribute their ideas, whether to create a debate about controversial issues or to develop the skills of people to enhance their lives. There are educational, economical, medical as well as political roles and spaces for it

One of the roles of the civil society is to pressure the government. When the youth come here and ask politicians, the politicians have to answer there is nothing hidden. That is what people learn here and that what will be reflected when they go back to Syria and start building a new political system” concluded Alkhani

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