Zaytoun, the little Syrian-Palestinian refugee, is the leading character of a videogame created by a group of Syrian, Palestinian and Spanish activists.
Through the obstacles Zaytoun faces, the choices he makes and the people he meets, the players of this videogame are meant to get an understanding of the background of both Palestine and Syria and the current situation of their people. The project includes a website with an archive that will collect information about the different Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon, the story of the Syrian uprising and reports on human rights in the region. The creators ask for everyone´s contributions to complete the work.
Here's five-minute video preview of the project:
The video game shares the story of Zaytoun, the little boy refugee, who was forced to flee after the Syrian regime destroyed his house in the Yarmouk refugee camp and killed many of his Syrian friends. On his way out of the camp, the players will share his journey, the friends he will meet and the stories he will experience. With the help of documents and maps of the state of the roads, cities, streets and hospitals in Syria, he will make decisions on where to go next and how to interact with the people he meets. Whether he reaches certain locations or not will depend on him being able to answer questions concerning the history of Syria and Palestine.
The story of Zaytoun is the story of many Palestinians who left their land after they were expelled by the Israeli occupation and settled in Syria, where Yarmouk and other camps became their homes. During the beginning of the uprising, Yarmouk became a welcoming space to anyone fleeing from other areas of Damascus, where the regime was cracking down on demonstrators, and arresting, torturing and killing activists. Solidarity with the revolution and those suffering persecution emerged within the camp, which in the end led to it being bombed by regime forces.
In the words of Mokha, a Syrian-Palestinian designer, the Syrian revolution has reconciled many Palestinians with their Syrian identity.
“We are not only Palestinians, we are also Syrians and we suffer what Syrians suffer. For many years I wondered why Syrians did not rise against their tyrants, and now that they have, I feel proud of my Syrian people, just like I do of my Palestinian people.”
According to Syrian photographer Huss:
“It is important to understand that the Palestinian and the Syrian struggle go hand in hand and are equally legitimate. Both peoples have been oppressed and are fighting for freedom, justice and dignity. Supporting the right of Palestinians to self-determination and freedom while justifying crimes committed by Assad is a sign of either ignorance or dogmatism.”
In the words of Sara Carrasco, from Spain:
I support the right of every people to self-determination and autonomy, in every form. Both Syrians and Palestinians live under a monopoly of power directly connected to colonial and tyrannical interests. I am also concerned about our little knowledge of the struggles of our neighbors. In order to understand our own struggles in Spain and Europe, we need to be aware of those happening in the rest of the world. The image of Arabs and the Middle East and North Africa as a whole has been misrepresented by our media, and is it important to create alternative channels and projects to challenge such misrepresentations.”