President of the Syrian Students Union Dareen Suleiman: A silk glove in regime’s hands
The participation of the National Union of Syrian Students (NUSS), represented by its chairperson, Dareen Suleiman, at an international meeting in New York on the education file, has brought back previous accusations that the union is a “tool” in the hands of the Syrian regime.
Attention was focused on the union, which witnessed a transformation in its discourse after the appearance of its chairperson, Dareen Suleiman, elected in July 2020, along with an educational delegation from the government of the regime within the Transforming Education Summit, held in New York from 16 to 19 September, as a part of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
During Suleiman’s tenure, the union’s presidency’s speech underwent a major shift, as if the Syrian regime had used her as a silk glove and a facade to relieve pressure and polish the image of the union, which had been implicated with its former chairperson in numerous violations documented by various human rights organizations.
The intensity of Suleiman’s rhetoric about different orientations and affiliations decreased, bearing a peculiar diplomatic character to the one to which Syrians have been accustomed in the discourse of the former chairperson, Ammar Saati.
|The National Union of Syrian Students (NUSS): A popular organization that includes students of Syrian public and private universities and higher and technical institutes. It has branches inside and outside Syria. The union was officially established on 23 April 1963.
In one of the most prominent interviews in which she appeared after taking over the NUSS chairmanship, Suleiman repeatedly reiterated that the union embraces all Syrian students regardless of their party affiliations.
“The union supervises all Syrian students regardless of their political and party affiliation,” and “I have two members of the executive office within the union’s supreme leadership who are not affiliated with the (Baath) Party.” These were the various phrases and words that Suleiman repeated during the interview in an attempt to deny that the union was one of the tools of the Baath Party.
She explained the high number of participants in the union’s leadership who belong to the Baath Party by the high presence of the party on the ground and the high number of its affiliates compared to other parties, as she put it.
During her media appearance at the interviews and conferences of the union, Suleiman focused on discussing Syrian students and their demands and her constant endeavor to meet them, avoiding all talk about political aspects.
This contradicts the discourse of NUSS’ former chairperson and member of the regional leadership of the Baath Party, Ammar Saati, who took over the presidency of the union in 2004 and who, through his rhetoric, sought to convey the intellectual values of the party he represents.
For years, Saati’s speech was limited to messages applauding the achievements of the Syrian regime, its forces, and the Baath Party, accusing all those who disagree with them of “terrorism.”
“Individual mistakes”: An attempt to acquit the union
The National Union of Syrian Students (NUSS) has been charged with several counts, most notably its involvement in violating students’ rights at universities through its participation in detention campaigns and “tashbih” against students.
Students who are members of the union who practiced many violations that showed that NUSS was part of the Syrian regime’s intelligence structure were deployed at university gates.
In an attempt to acquit the union of these and other accusations, Suleiman said that they were “individual mistakes,” claiming that she had worked to hold accountable anyone whom the union had verified their involvement in one of these violations against students.
Suleiman justified the deployment of union members at university gates with the security reality that requires joint action to protect the university, which has been a target for years, she said.
“Punishment amounts to dismissal,” the words of the NUSS’ chairperson, which showed that her speech did not apply to the reality of violations committed by the union, having amounted to murder, and the nature of the punishment imposed by the union on “perpetrators of individual violations.”
Who is Dareen Suleiman?
Dareen Suleiman has headed the executive office of the National Union of Syrian Students (NUSS) since 29 July 2020, having held several positions in the union, most notably the Head of the Office of Private Education and Informatics, according to her biography on the “Manhom” website for publishing CVs of well-known businessmen and public figures.
Suleiman was also a member of the Constitutional Committee’s mini-committee within the regime’s delegation in Geneva 2019 and repeatedly appeared alongside the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad.
Born on 25 August 1980, she holds a master’s degree in public relations that she obtained in 2018 from the Faculty of Mass Communication at Damascus University. She was also attending Ph.D. classes in the aforementioned faculty until 2020.
She is the daughter of the retired Brigadier General who runs the al-Areen Humanitarian Foundation, Abdel Salam Suleiman; according to information obtained by Enab Baladi from the Observatory of Political and Economic Networks, who hails from the city of Duraykish in the Syrian governorate of Tartus.
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