Gay Syrians are using secret Facebook group to escape torture

January 4, 2017
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A gay Syrian refugee has opened up about the extraordinary journey that let him escape Syria – in part thanks to Facebook.

The 26-year-old man, known only as Adam, says he used a secret Facebook group to communicate with others fleeing war.

Adam was living in Turkey and knew that he had to find refuge in a different nation.

Discovering the Facebook group changed his life – giving him a way to find others seeking refuge.

The secret group contained more than 500 other queer Syrians.

They used it to communicate in Turkey, sharing underground locations for safety after fleeing to Turkey from the war in Syria.

The man saw his friend be beheaded, a transgender woman raped, burned and mutilated.

The horrifying incidents aren’t uncommon in Turkey, where violent hate crimes against LGBT people have increased in recent years.

Adam told CBC News: “From the beginning it was so amazing because we shared our problems, we shared everything.”

Adam left Aleppo in 2011, before starting a five year journey in search of freedom, including relocating to Russia and Turkey.

“I’m gay, but this is not acceptable there,” Adam said, speaking about Syria and Turkey.

The group helped him to find solace through long years trying to escape the homophobic nations.

Adam says he realised the serious danger he was in when a gay Syrian he knew, Muhammed Wisam Sankari, was found beheaded and mutilated.

His friend had been kidnapped and then killed.

“It was so scary,” he said.

“He was so young, so full of funny.”

He pleaded with the UN following for safety, fearing he too would be slaughtered at the hands of violent homophobes.

Four months later he was offered sanctuary by Canada, and given flights to Winnipeg.

“It was like my dream happened,” he said in a longer interview with CBC.

When he arrived in Winnipeg he said “thank God I’m here”.

Adam is now seeking to navigate Canada’s complex red tape to build a new life.

The secret Facebook group continues to help LGBT Syrians communicate with each other and build solidarity, in the hope of finding a way out, just like Adam has.

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