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June 26, 2022



Civil March for Aleppo in the Czech Republic receives both hate and love

15.1.2017 11:02
The Civil March for Aleppo crossed into the Czech Republic from Germany on 9 January 2017. (PHOTO:  Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)
The Civil March for Aleppo crossed into the Czech Republic from Germany on 9 January 2017. (PHOTO: Petr Zewlakk Vrabec)

Many readers may have noticed in the media, or in online social networks, that the March for Aleppo is proceeding through the Czech Republic - but what is it? Last month a Polish blogger and journalist living in Berlin, Anna Alboth, made this video:

It has captured many people's hearts. In it, she talks about sitting at home in front of her computer and following the photos, posts and videos online of people from Aleppo, Syria.

She says she just can't go on this way anymore. She can no longer just follow the images from the comfort of her room in Berlin - she wants to do something.

She wants to recast her frustration and sadness into concrete action. She has decided to walk to Aleppo.

She is calling on all who feel the same way, who can no longer just passively follow this live broadcast of the war online, to join her and walk to Aleppo, Syria, together. Her video has reaped an enormous response.

A group began to form and has actually begun this journey to Syria. Just after Christmas 2016 the march set out from Berlin, on foot, heading south.

It is an international group of people from many European countries. Old and young people from the broadest possible range of political orientations are marching.

The procession is apolitical and the marchers are carrying white flags, the meaning of which is "Cease fire". Some plan to march all the way to Aleppo, others will join the march for just a couple of hours, a day, or a week.

Daily the pilgrims are walking approximately 20 kilometers. Along the way, like all genuine pilgrims, they are relying on the benefaction of people in the places their route passes through.

Each night, good people are making it possible for them to sleep somewhere free of charge and are feeding them. On 9 January 2017, approximately 50 people marching to Aleppo crossed the Czech-German border.

During the next few days they will be marching through the Czech Republic and continuing on to Vienna. According to the social media posts by those participating in the march, their procession through the Czech Republic is a different experience than it was to march through Germany.

When they march through a Czech town chanting "Peace for Syria", people do not applaud and smile, as they did in Germany, but turn their faces away or express their disagreement with the march, sometimes by giving them the finger. A similar image is provided by the Internet discussion going on beneath Czech media articles about the march - online discussants are saying they hope the marchers experience adversity and the worst weather, that they freeze to death, or that they will be shot dead once the march reaches the war zone.

The Czech-language Internet is fussing about why it is that these marchers don't have to go to work, they are wondering where the marchers got the money for their winter clothing, etc. What's important, however, is that despite these grudge-filled, hateful reactions, the march in the Czech Republic is still receiving the most heartfelt aid and support from people.

Those who are fans of the marchers came to welcome them at the mountain border crossing of Petrovice. Free accommodations have been found for each night of the march through Czech territory.

People are baking and cooking for them and hosting them free of charge. I had the honor of handling the logistics of the march for the first two days of its arrival into the Czech Republic.

In Ústí nad Labem and its environs an effective, very diverse group of people quickly formed to arrange all the necessary aid for the march. Those involved were artists connected with the Armaturka Gallery, which accommodated the marchers on their second night in the Czech Republic, the Green Pary vice-mayor of one municipal department, local Pirate Party members, local Roman Catholics, local Romani community members and two local nonprofits.

All those volunteers deserve our gratitude. In the coming days, it will also be very important for participants from the Czech Republic to actually join the march.

For the time being this is not happening much - the march is managing to receive aid from locals in the places through which it passes, but nobody else is joining it. Come and join.

Miroslav Brož, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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