Diala Brisly Uses Art to Promote Human Rights after Fleeing Syria

A refugee artist from Syria has created a unique piece of art that captures the spirit and courage of those fleeing war and poverty.

To mark World Refugee Day 2021, which was on Sunday, Diala Brisly created a mural with one key theme: The courage it takes to flee one’s home.

Commissioned by the International Rescue Committee, the piece depicts various people against a backdrop of a bombed city.

Now safe in France, Brisly said her work is about having the “energy to keep going through fear, trauma and upheaval.”

She added that the piece’s message — “refugees are courageous” — captures the essence of what it means to be forcibly uprooted.
“I really like the slogan because it shows strength, regardless of all the troubles that we’re going through,” she said.

The artwork depicts people of various ethnicities and identities, including children, and one man poignantly wearing a life jacket — a staple item of refugee migration across the Mediterranean Sea and elsewhere.

“It’s very important to show solidarity among refugees. I believe in solidarity between all people. When we have this struggle in common, and we understand each other’s pain, we’re able to help each other because we share similar experiences,” said Brisly
“The media puts the spotlight on refugees when they’re in the middle of the sea. But it’s very important to understand that the crisis didn’t start in the Mediterranean, it started before,” she added.
“For me, courage is having fears, having all this worry, having all this trauma, and still having the energy to keep going.”

During the revolution against the Assad regime, journalists shared Brisly’s artwork to supplement their reports.

But this exposure, she said, put her life in danger. She fled Syria via Turkey and ended up in France.

Now she uses her talent to create moving works that support the causes she believes in, and runs art therapy workshops for children affected by war.

According to the UN’s refugee agency, nearly 82.4 million people were uprooted in 2020, fleeing war, violence, persecution and human rights abuses.

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