**Ruqia Hassan: the woman who was killed for telling the truth about Isis **
The 30-year-old Kurdish woman from Raqqa risked her life by openly criticising the regime on Facebook. Her friends, family and fellow activists remember her determination to tell the world the grim truth about life in Syria
In July 2015, Ruqia Hassan posted a message on her Facebook page: “Greetings to every girl celebrating Eid in her pyjamas!” It was the kind of dig her followers loved; a sarcastic acknowledgment that small pleasures – such as wearing new clothes on Eid – had become impossible since Raqqa, a small city on the north bank of the Euphrates river, had turned into the dark heart of the Islamic State. It was also the sort of comment that made Hassan’s family fear that she was attracting the wrong kind of attention. They were right: weeks later, she was arrested and imprisoned; two months later, she was dead.
Family members say that, in person, the 30-year-old was shy and quiet. Yet on social media she showed no fear, documenting with brutal honesty life under Isis, and never attempting to hide her disgust for it. She posted under the name Nissan Ibrahim, and her Facebook page became a form of resistance that allowed her to expose the miserable conditions of the city, whose inhabitants are under attack from all sides; trapped by Isis’s vicious rule on the ground, pummelled by attacks from Assad’s regime, and hit from above with airstrikes by Russian and coalition forces.
Her posts could be bleak. “No one has shown us any compassion except the graveyards,” she wrote bitterly. “No one loves us like the graveyards.” Yet she also vividly captured the anxiety on the streets, as people tried to carry on with their lives in a warzone. “People in the market crash into each other like waves,” she noted, “not because of the numbers … but because their eyes are glued to the skies … their feet are moving unconsciously.”
Reporting on airstrikes, she vented her anger at those unleashing violence all around her. “Drone in the sky now – and we heard an explosion. May God protect the civilians – and take the rest.” Yet it was her outspoken references to Isis that worried her friends most. “Today [Isis police] launched random detentions … God, I beg you … end this darkness and … defeat these people.”
I have to report on this, this woman reported from behind the lines in Raqqa; she did it with anonymity but one found out what was going on via her Facebook pages. She seems to be a true hero. News of her death came out a few days ago. I read some of her entries while she was still alive, she was well known. See links for pictures. I guess she did operate under a “nom de plume”.
Since then, Hassan’s cousins have been unable to contact the family in Raqqa. In her last Facebook post, Hassan wrote: “I’m in Raqqa and I received death threats. When Isil arrest me and kill me it’s OK, because [while] they will cut [off] my head I will have dignity, which is better than living in humiliation.”
Abdullah says he hopes his cousin will be an inspiration. “She taught many people a lesson they would never forget. She taught us not to fear the tyrant … I’m sure we will have many other Ruqias from now.”
Ali, too, could not be prouder of his cousin. “She become a hero in our village for her courage and being the voice of the truth. She was fearless … A little Kurdish girl from Kobani faced a brutal militia and exposed them. She will never be forgotten.”