Online Activism has played a crucial role in raising awareness for social and political change. It allows for a faster method of communicating and arranging peaceful protests. This type of activism has ultimately led to the replacement of long-standing dictatorships during the Arab Spring and across the Middle East. Governments often impose crackdowns of social media activists and are known to restrict internet access as a means to deter organized public action.
CESD is one of the first non-profit organizations to have their websites blocked in Syria due to government interests. Within the first two years of our work, the Syrian government blocked our website numerous times, and without justification nor warning. We must recognize the importance of Internet Activism and Freedom, if we are to push for global democratic change and demand equal human rights. Our electronic newsletter (Monitor) covers information regarding non-profit organizations in the MENA region. It also consists of information regarding open society, freedom and the dangers of restricted speech. During the Arab Spring in 2011, our members were active on social media. In order to prevent accounts from being deleted and banned, they shared methods with activists and journalists on how to safeguard social media accounts along with their information
As digital media advances, there is a growing need for younger revolutionaries and activists to push for democracy through journalism and by joining peaceful protests. CESD recognizes the role that young activists play in their contribution to advocacy.
When CESD was founded, we hosted youth development programs, in collaboration with groups such as EuroMed Youth. From 2004 to 2009, our organization sent more than 60 members from Syria to European and MENA countries for youth exchange programs. We provided training for youth journalists and citizen journalists in Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Lebanon. Students were accommodated with housing near Syrian Universities on behalf of CESD. Those very same students went on to become influential figures and role models during the Arab Spring across the Middle East, and they continue to report on humanitarian crisis issues.
CESD believes in gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa and strives to promote women empowerment and equal rights within the region.
We have organized training sessions regarding women’s rights, roles in society and politics, and held seminars on CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women) for Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Saudi, Bahranian, Egyptian, and Sudanese women.
During the Syrian civil war, our seminars focused on Syrian women and the changing atmosphere on the ground. We are partnered with The Garden of Hope Foundation, which campaigns for gender equality and assists disadvantaged women and children.
A growing number of ethnic and tribal conflicts have contributed to internal chaos across the Middle East. Ethnographic and demographic studies are helpful in determining a background for these conflicts. CESD focuses on the ideologies and structure of many ethnic groups in the MENA region, including Assyrian’s, Ashuri’s, and Quqazi’s. We are the first non-profit organization to produce stories about IDP’s in Syria, and specific minority groups in northeastern Syria. In 2004, we also covered the Kurdish Revolution that was held against the Assad regime.
We are the first non-profit organization to write about the Yazidi’s in Syria, and we published the Yazidi Bible, entitled ‘Rush.’ In 2005, CESD sent a letter to the Syrian government, seeking approval for the Yazidi people to form a temple inside the country. The government insisted on a Muslim learning based curriculum for them, instead of tailoring to the various aspects that form their religion. We focus on assisting all minorities in the Middle East, and bringing together such groups as Sabians, Christians, Jews, Druze, and Alawites
The establishment of safe-zones, or ‘de-escalation zones’ in Syria will protect thousands of civilians and contribute to the rebuilding process.
CESD’s goal is to support peaceful initiatives on the ground inside Syria. In August of 2015, we wrote ‘The Syrian Homeland Initiative for All’, which argued potential options for achieving the end of hostilities. We sent the report to the United Nations and various governmental organizations. In 2016, we promoted the concept of a safe-zone in Syria, through videos and stories from activists who share our solution. We provided a Trump Campaign Advisor with our report on the benefits of a safe-zone in southern Syria.
Journalists and activists risk their lives everyday by publishing photos, videos, and stories about what is unfolding in Syria and in the Middle East. Multiple former prisoners have recalled the torment and abuse they experienced while inside these prisons. Videos of torture and executions have emerged from political prisoners and rights activists alike. A few of our members have been arrested and some even killed in Syria, as they supported freedom and dreamt of creating a new culture in the Middle East. CESD has conducted research and written articles in support of the protection of activists and political prisoners in the Middle East and North Africa against dictatorships. We have organized protests in support of human rights in the MENA region, and continue to write declarations for the release of political prisoners who are being held unjustly and face extreme abuse at the hands of guards
In order to curb the spread of terrorism and radical Islamist ideologies, CESD creates reports and articles which intend to explain the relationship between such groups and countries under dictatorships. We are among the first to speak out against Ghuraba al-Sham, the now defunct group which set out to destroy democracy across Iraq. We monitor radical Islamist militant groups all across the board, from Fateh al-Sham and Hezbollah in Lebanon, to Jundallah in Iran. Now however, our focus is aimed at restricting the spread of violent ideologies. We support human rights across all levels, and radical ideologies hinder any future goals of democracy and individual freedoms for civilians
Between 2004 and 2005, CESD coordinated with Arab non-profit organizations to create the first training manual for governance. We held training sessions for Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese, and Iraqis on how to utilize the manual within their own institutions. Articles and proposals were written to push the Syrian government towards development by using effective governance tools and policies. We wrote reports to detail potential constitutional amendments for parties, such as the Baathist Party in Syria. Reports that intended to alter amendments and policies were created for the Ministries of Education, Health and Transportation Departments
Our members have actively engaged in more than 100 seminars around the world, including World Social Forum, and UN/UNESCO. We organized human rights seminars inside countries that did not support democracy. Seminars also focused on women’s and children’s rights, as well as vocational training. In 2014, CESD worked with non-profit groups to create The Syrian-Christian Democratic Committee, which features five active non-profit organizations, 32 Syrian-Christian organizations, and the Syrian Civil Coalition, which has 45 Syrian civil organizations. Our writers have been key speakers for special conferences and events on the importance of civil unity
From 2007 to 2014, our training programs have taught valuable skills to more than 500 journalists and citizen journalists. Between 2004 and 2014, we trained more than 300 human rights activists across Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, and Algeria. Our trainees capitalized on the experience and were able to build new projects in many countries. We remain in contact with our trainees, who have went on to work in the fields of media and non-profit development. We currently guide citizen journalists through the implementation of digital media tools and improved storytelling
CESD uses investigative journalism and analysis to learn more about ethnic minority groups, democracy in the MENA region, human rights, internet freedom, governance, civil liberties, gender equality, culture, and religion. Most of the research has been written in Arabic. In 2015 however, CESD decided to translate some of our work into English
Our training programs have taught valuable skills to more than 500 journalists and citizen journalists across Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, and Algeria. Our trainees capitalized on the experience and were able to build new projects in many countries. We remain in contact with our trainees, who have gone on to work in the fields of media and non-profit development. We currently guide citizen journalists through the implementation of digital media tools, improved storytelling, and data-driven findings. We assist journalists in the US and Europe to establish contacts and provide sensitive information to representatives within the MENA Region. We also work with students who are enrolled in journalism schools across the US and conduct research on terrorist groups, refugees, migration, and democracy in the Arab world.
In 2003, we wrote the first report about poor and disadvantaged Syrians, which was forwarded to Social Watch. The report and its contents were utilized in the United Nations as a comparative study. In 2004 and 2005, similar reports on Millennium Goals were reviewed by the United Nations and Social Watch
Since 2003, CESD has written hundreds of articles and reports which support democracy and in the Middle East and North Africa. We participated in seminars and many small table discussions in various countries that were centered around the push towards democratic states, prosperity, and governance. We support free elections as well, and have monitored elections in order to ensure a fair process
CESD is involved in environmental development programs along the coastal villages of Syria. In the mountains of Latakia, we performed cleaning and afforestation activities, which lasted from 2003 to 2007. Boxes of reusable items were supplied to civilians in three Syrian villages. Between 2003 and 2005, we grew and maintained 700 plants. In 2010, we became the first non-profit organization in the Middle East to provide energy-efficient light-bulbs to a village in northeastern Syria. We have been a part of various environmental seminars that focus on solar systems, low and efficient energy, and Millennium goals
CESD believes in the co-existence between multicultural and ethnic communities, We focus on different religious minorities in the Middle East, and cover their history and culture. We differentiate between cultures in the MENA region and in European countries, and also focus on developments regarding Arab communities in the United States. CESD has organized festivals in Syrian villages prior to the civil war. They featured prominent guest speakers and celebrated the importance of multicultural relations