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Law Student Turned Taxi Driver Bears ...
Aleppo
By mittome
19 Jan 2015

In a telling interview, a young man who was a second-year law student during the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War explains why he joined the rebels after witnessing what he says were atrocities committed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in his hometown of Aleppo. Seeing the city's war-torn streets from his eyes, viewers get an unflinching insight into the daily comings and goings of an average Syrian whose life has been fundamentally transformed by the civil war.

Transcription:

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (00:42-01:24)

I studied law at Aleppo University and was a second-year student. Then I volunteered in the police force. After the revolution started and I witnessed the conflicts and the oppression, I withdrew from the course and started participating in the demonstration. The regime caught me and imprisoned me and I was expelled from the university. That is why I came here, to work and make a living. During my work with the rebels, I was injured more than once.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (02:00-03:11) Conversation with a passenger:

Passenger: What happened here?

Driver: many missiles were dropped here and they caused destruction, this used to be a main highway, look what happened now.
Many people died, look where it was dropped, here on the concrete, look at the huge hole it created, almost 37 kills - a massacre. Look at the destruction, it is like this wherever you go. There is a school there that was also attacked. Poor children.

Passenger: a barrel bomb attacked it right?

Driver: yes

Passenger: May God never have mercy on Bashar.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (03:14-03:37)

I forgot about my studies, and this taxi is how I make a living, even though the fuel is very expensive, and the roads are destroyed. Life is a lot more expensive now, we do not know what to do. We are alway expecting a barrel bomb or a missile.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver
(Man, Arabic) (03:52-04:12)

The situation is much worse than before, fuel is expensive and roads are destroyed, everything is destroyed. I forgot about my studies to be able to provide for my family.

Imad Haj Bakri,Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (04:23-04:29)

I am totally content and life has to go on.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (04:58-05:41)

When the FSA first entered Aleppo, it was the fourth of Ramadan, the first missile was dropped on al-Ansar al-Sharqi, the first missile to be dropped in Aleppo. So I went to watch, it was strange for us, so we went to watch, I was injured, I do not know exactly how, but I knew I'd been injured. It felt as if I was falling asleep, and I woke up in the university hospital, controlled by the regime, I was unconscious for about a week and lost sight in my right eye.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (06:23-07:39)

What happened is, it was the fourth of Ramadan, I was in my house which is on the opposite side of this area. We heard a massive noise and thought it was a missile. We rushed to rescue people, and it was strange, there were not many injuries, only one man that I can remember, and while a huge number of people were standing in the area, another missile was dropped on us. I fainted for a few seconds then woke up to see corpses and injured people everywhere, a scene you cannot imagine. I looked around and fainted again because of how horrifying the scene was. I woke up in the hospital and they told me that it was the thirteenth day of Ramada. I had been unconscious for a while and was injured in the eye and the head, and they had inserted tubes in my body.

Abdulrahman Haj Bakri, Imad's younger brother:
(Man, Arabic) (07:46-08:04)

My brother Imad is older than me. He was a university student, but the difficult situation forced him to work as a taxi driver. In spite of the fact that this profession is very dangerous, and there is constant shelling, and the regime is targeting the liberated areas, my brother keeps working.

Ahmed Orabi, Imad's friend
(Man, Arabic) (08:05-08:58)

Imad's case is not a special case, but we can make it special by shedding light on the fact that he is a university student and a lawyer and is now working as a taxi driver. Because of the difficult circumstances and the expensive cost of life, we are trying to do anything we can to support our family. He has a special case because he used to be a good law student and he had lots of ambition, but now he is a taxi driver, and that is how people see him, without knowing his background or the fact that he is a well educated person.

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Banned from Making a Living for Secur...
Sanaa
By MENA Desk
27 Dec 2014

40 year old Mershid al-Merhibi makes a living by transporting people on his motorbike through the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.
For 7 years the taxi motorbike has been the only source of income for Mershid, his wife and 5 children.
Despite his BA degree in business he has not been able to find a job and has no choice but to work as a taxi biker because of the high rate of unemployment and the government’s failure to resuscitate the economy.

Like all other taxi bike drivers in Sanaa, Mershid makes up to five US dollars a-day, which is barely enough to make ends meet. However, this income is now in danger.
At the beginning of December, 2014, the Yemeni government passed a law banning motorbikes in the capital to try to prevent frequent assassinations and acid attacks carried out by unknown gunmen on motorbikes.

The government claims that motorbikes makes it easy for criminals to conduct attacks and then quickly escape.

The taxi bikers say banning motorbikes is not the answer because it is their only source of income, and so Mershid and many others continue to work on their motorbikes at high risk of being caught by the police, who Mershid says will probably destroy his bike.

Interviews:

Mershid al-Merhibi, Motorbike Driver (man, Arabic):
01:41
"I am Mershid al-Merhibi. I’m 40 years old and graduated from Sana’a University. I was forced to work with the motorcycle because there are no jobs and I am unemployed. You can see for yourself how the situation is here.”

02:18
“I wake up each morning and get on my bike and make my way to this intersection to wait for passengers to come. Sometimes, I carry one passenger and sometimes two. They come and we negotiate the price and then I take them to their destination.”

02:44
“Sometimes I find 3-4 passengers a-day. God does not disappoint, and I am thankful for that.”

03:24
“During the past two years, a lot of problems happened with motorcycles. A lot of assassinations occurred here in Sana’a as well as in other provinces . Because motorbikes are easy to get away with, these wicked people use them as a tool to carry out assassinations and acid attacks. They ride and throw acid then easily escape on their bike. This act has ruined work for motorbike drivers including me.”

03:58
“I am just looking for work but I could not find anything except working on my motorbike. They need to find us a solution”

Hussain al-Shadadi, Traffic Officer (man, Arabic):
04:05
“There are people who really need the motorbike to make money. They don’t have any other source of income except with their motorbike. However, because there are criminals who are causing problems and assassinating people, politicians, security and army personal with it, making a living on a motorbike has been banned”.

Mershid al-Merhibi, Motorbike Driver (man, Arabic):
05:18
“Sometimes the government sends police patrols to confiscate motorbikes, they take it from you by force. If you can get away from them and manage to transport one or two passengers a-day, this is good for you. However, I have seen them take a motorbike and cut it in half before my eyes.”

05:54
“The money I make in this job is often saved. Some of it is spent on rent, the kids and their school and to buy basic necessities for living. Even though the money is not enough, it still helps out. If they take away our motorbikes, then may god help us; where will we go and what we will do”.

06:25
“We ask Allah for a better, stronger nation that will not prohibit motorbikes so people can make a living”

Shot List:

Various shots of Mershid on his motorbike
Various shots of bikers
Surveillance camera video showing an acid attack on a man in the street
Various shots of Mershid and passenger on the bike

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