Interview with 'Mahmoud al-Hamawi': Activist from al-Latamina in North Hama
Over the course of the war in Syria, a number of media activists on the ground have emerged to cover the events. One such activist is ‘Mahmoud al-Hamawi,’ who originates from the town of al-Latamina in north Hama countryside. He is currently displaced in the insurgent-held areas of northern Syria. Follow his current Youtube channel here and his current Twitter account here. Below is an interview I recently conducted with him.
Q: Could you speak in summary about your life before the Syrian revolution?And what was your role in al-Latamina?
A: I am the media guy Mahmoud al-Hamawi from the sons of the town of al-Latamina in north Hama countryside, and I have covered the revolution since its beginning through photographing the demonstrations, organising them and displaying them to the media. And I used to appear on most of the stations in live-air interviews among the most prominent of these stations were al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, BBC, Sky News and others, and I documented all the crimes of the regime in al-Latamina in particular the massacres and bombing with chlorine gas and chemicals. And I had a great role in observing the field situation and ground situation and the battles in north Hama countryside, and I was independent but I worked with all to expose the crimes of the regime and the most prominent of those I worked with was the Syrian Press Centre and the Association of Youth of al-Latamina and I was the last media guy to leave north Hama countryside. I had a channel on Youtube that was a history of the revolution in north Hama countryside: the number of subscribers to it reached 40,400 subscribers and more than 16 million views, but regrettably it was deleted days ago.
And my work before the revolution was a businessman and I had a shop of cleaning materials and beautification materials and my shop was known as ‘al-Radwan Cleaning Materials’ because my real name is Radwan al-Hamoud al-Ramadan.
Q: Could you talk in summary about al-Latamina and its people? How was life in al-Latmina during the revolution? For example which factions controlled the locality? How was the services and humanitarian situation in it? Were you with a specific faction or were you just independent?
A: al-Latamina is a town of around 25,000 inhabitants and its people work in agriculture and its nature is beautiful and what has added to its beauty is its location on the banks of the Orontes River. The regime could not remain one night in al-Latamina: note that it assaulted the town a number of times at the beginning of the revolutionary movement, and since there was formed in it Liwa Shuhada’ al-Latamina and later it was called Jaysh al-Izza after a number of the factions joined it, the regime could not assault it and the town remained in defiance of it, until the regime besieged it and it fell through the siege. al-Latamina suffered from the services situation because of the continual bombing on it as we observed 9000 air raids and 90,000 mortars on it.
I entered with most of the factions into the battles to observe and document the victories and I reached Arza in the south and Aleppo countryside in the north. I even entered with Jaysh al-Fatah during the liberation of the security square in Idlib, but I was an independent media guy not affiliated with any military side or others and all respected me for the impartiality of my work.
Q: When did you leave the town of al-Latamina and was the exit something expected? Why didn’t the Turks protect the town despite their deployment in the area? Did some of the Muslim brothers outside help you through gathering donations?
A: I left al-Latamina in the final moments before the regime could impose its siege. I did not expect I would leave it. I was perhaps of the media guys who met most with the Turks at the observation point in Morek. We were hearing the promises from them but they were not honest with us. As for the aid, if you mean the colaition and the governments and leaders of the revolution, we heard of them and did not se anything from them, and I was working in difficult circumstances and with very simple capabilities.
Q: Where are most of the people of al-Latamina located? How do you assess the general situation in the liberated north?
A: Most of the people of al-Latamina are in the camps. The situation in the liberated north: there is no power or force except in God, and we ask God to deliver us from what we are in.