Yamen Hussein Foto: © Roland Baege
The Syrian poet and journalist Yamen Hussein was born in Homs in 1984. He wrote numerous articles critical of the Syrian regime, which soon attracted the attention of Syrian security organizations. Over and over again, he criticized in his articles the restrictive and manipulative interventions of the state into freedom of publication and the press and repeatedly protested against the total disregard for human rights during the civil war. As early as in 2006, he was only 22 years old at the time, Yamen Hussein openly sneered at the cult-like system at the University of Homs and accused the government of participating in this discriminating system, which led to his expulsion from the university and three months of detention. In 2008, he was arrested because of his reporting on the government’s repression of the media. Soon, he had become one of the most prominent investigative journalists far beyond Homs. He became the leading reporter at “Al Dunya TV,” covering on location the protests in Homs and Hama. However, the news station, under pressure, began to spread false information about the movement, whereupon Yamen Hussein resigned. Soon after, Assad’s supporters drove him out of his apartment in Al Zahra near Homs. The smear campaign against him began to assume alarming proportions. He began to write under a pseudonym. However, his position as a founding member of the “Nabd Alliance for Syrian l Youth,” a peaceful protest movement voicing its dissent via the media, turned him into a public figure. He began writing again under his own name. When Yamen Hussein attacked the Islamist group “Jeish Al Islam” in one of his articles, the death threats came from two sides: from religious fundamentalists and from government circles. Eventually, the pressure from these threats became unbearable and he escaped to Turkey. From December 2014 until December 2017, Hussein had been living in Munich on a scholarship from the Writers in Exile program of German PEN. The experiences of his flight from Syria to Lebanon, to Turkey and eventually to Germany Yamen Hussein condensed in a volume of poetry (working title: 3439 km) consisting of verse he wrote in Damascus, Beirut, Istanbul and Munich and which is to be published soon. This production was made possible through the culture Resource’s Production Awards programm. In 2017, several poems by Hussein were published in the German PEN anthology Zuflucht in Deutschland. Texte verfolgter Autoren (S. Fischer).