Spray-painting graffiti on the walls of schools and other buildings in the southern Syrian city of Deraa by its children was what sparked the Syrian Revolution. They initiated and ignited protests against the Assad-regime and paved the way for their spread across Syria, making the regime trembles tremendously.
Anti-Assad graffiti was an effective means that worried and perplexed Assad during the beginning of the revolution. It forced him to tighten his security measures and control over all paint shops. Spray-painting anti-Assad slogans on the walls was also one of the most difficult task among the protestors due to its dangerous consequences that one might face in case he or she was arrested by the oppressive regime. Anyone spraying on the walls was blacklisted and wanted.
Maree Hassan who was in his twenties was among the first anti-Assad graffiti artist in the beginning of the Syrian Revolution in Deir Ezzor. He did not carry a banner like the rest of the protesters, but a paint sprayer, which he utilized to spray-paint phrases like “The people want the fall of the regime”, “Freedom…Freedom”. These statements were a serious concern for the Assad-regime. It also worked Assad forces who always had to re-paint the walls, which increased their hatred and anger with the protestors.
His only weaponry against the Assad-regime was a paint sprayer; which brought him in a situation where he was wanted dead or alive by the oppressive regime. Due to the increase of tension and crack down on the protesters , Maree’ had no choice but to leave his home for a safer place, where he would spend the rest of his life, hoping that regime might collapse and get overthrown one day.
As usual, Assad forces poured their anger at members of the family of Hasssan Maree” after not being successful to track his position and arrest him. They raided his home and ransacked the shop of his family. The only effect that this atrocity had on Hassan was that he became more resilient and determined to continue his way to attain freedom and dignity.
In mid-2011, with the increase of tension and the pace of events in Deir Ezzor, the Assad-regime deployed his soldiers to the city and established checkpoints in an attempt to put an end to the protests and their activists. It was a failed attempt with the exception of a decrease in the number of protesters because of the tight security measure. Hassan continued his work by spraying more anti-Assad slogans, which kept inciting more protests against the regime. This led all security branches in Deir Ezzor to act and find a way to arrest Hassan, however, they failed once again because Hassan was born and grew up in the city of Deir Ezzor, which made him familiar with all its streets and neighbourhoods, serving as an advantage to escape from several attempts of arrests by the tyrannical regime and its tools.
In 2011/08/26, while Hassan Maree’ was spray painting on a wall during an anti-Assad protest, the Assad forces spotted him and rushed to the gathering to arrest him and disperse the protesters. In response, Hassan, began firing bullets at the Assad security forces to give his friends a chance to escape. He was able to join them in the neighborhood of al-Hilali in Deir Ezzor later.
The protesters gathered for the second time and started shouting anti-Assad slogans, which attracted the attention of the oppressive security forces who managed this time to spot Hassan Maree’ and were able to injure him with a shot. Hassan was paralysed due to the injury and therefore he could not run to escape. Then a bunch of murderers (security forces) encircled him while lying on the ground, and expressed their hatred towards him by shooting him by several guns at once to let his pure blood flow across the soil of Deir Ezzor.
It was not only enough for them to shoot him dead in a barbaric way, but they also prevented others from rescuing him or calling the emergency to transport him to a hospital. They took his dead body to a security branch from which they handed it over to his family after several hours. His comrades held a funeral procession for him in the city of Deir Ezzor later.
Hassan Maree’ spent five months in the Syrian revolution during which he saw the bitter and the good of it and this short period was able to make him stay memorable in the hearts of all the protesters until today. Wherever you turn your eyes in Deir Ezzor, you will see statements that sparked the revolution in Syria, which were written by a brave man using a spray painter.