Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Homs Blockade, Death of Journalists, and Hypocrisy

February 24, 2012

As the Syrian people remain defiant against the brutal oppression of Bashar al-Assad and his forces (which due to the mass defections, it is no longer possible to call it the Syrian army), we received news this week of three journalists who were killed and died as a result of their brave stand.  These people will be remembered as the true heroes of humanity. They are the ones that refuse to let us forget that massacres have been taking place on a daily basis during the last year, with over 6,000 dead. 

First, last week, we received the news of NY Times reporter, Anthony Shadid, who died from an asthma attack,  crossing the Syrian-Turkish border illegally. During my stay in Turkey, I have met correspondents who endanger their lives to cross the border. Few, would have imagined that one would die in such a way; not from a bullet, but from an allergy attack. Here is a link to a story about his life and career.

A few days ago, we learned of the latest two victims: Marie Colvin, a renowned American war correspondent and  a young French photo-journalist Remi Ochilk. They did few imagined infiltrating the battered city of Homs, a city under siege for more than 20 days.  The fact that their outpost was bombed was of no surprise, Homs is site of the greatest massacre Syria as seen since Bashar al-Assad's father, Hafiz al-Assad laid siege in 1982 to  the rebellious cities of Homs and Hama.   Here is a link to the story, which also reports the recent death in Homs of blogger Rami el-Sayed, along with other "citizen-journalists." Other recent press staff victims are cameraman Ferzat Jarban, Basil al-Sayed, Gilles Jacquier, and Mazhar Tayyara. 

The severity of the situation in Homs is clear from some of Ms Colvin's description upon entering Homs days before her death:

“Arriving in the darkened city in the early hours, I was met by a welcoming party keen for foreign journalists to reveal the city’s plight to the world,...So desperate were they that they bundled me into an open truck and drove at speed with the headlights on, everyone standing in the back shouting Allahu akbar — God is the greatest. Inevitably, the Syrian army opened fire....when everyone had calmed down I was driven in a small car, its lights off, along dark empty streets, the danger palpable. As we passed an open stretch of road, a Syrian Army unit fired on the car again with machine guns and launched a rocket-propelled grenade...the scale of human tragedy in the city is immense. The inhabitants are living in terror. Almost every family seems to have suffered the death or injury of a loved one.”

And, as hundreds are killled, adding to the already thousands, the world looks on. The world has abandoned them, forgotten them.  And, we cannot blame it on the media, which actually is covering the Syrian uprising in great detail.  It has been over three years since Israel's massive attack on Gaza. Perhaps, Rami al-Sayyed had thought like then, thousands upon thousands would fill the squares of Europe protesting the Israeli actions. For me this once again shows that when Arab kills Arab, it really does not interest the Western protesters.  As an Israeli citizen, I have always highlighted and protested my government's racist and violent policies. For years, I took part in protests outside of Israel. I will continue to protest. However, it is pathetic that the lives of the thousand innocent Syrians really do not matter. Yes, I am against the blockade of Gaza. However, I am also against the blockade of Homs. In 1982, without reprimand Hafiz al-Assad brutally massacred. In 2011-12 his son Bashar has continued the work.  Both times the world sat by and watched. Let it be known that I was originally against the Libyan invasion, and I am still against the Western powers entering Syria; however don't the Syrian people deserve the same humanity shown to the Palestinians.

I'll end with the last words of the killed blogger Rami al-Sayyed, calling for masses to rally:

Baba Amr (a district of Homs) is being exterminated. Do not tell me our hearts are with you because I know that. We need campaigns everwhere across the world and inside the country. People should protest in front of embassies and everywhere. Because in hours there will be no more Baba Amr. And I expect this message to be my last.

These journalists will haunt our minds. They are "dead proof" that we knew what was going on but chose to stay home and not fill the streets screaming: stop the massacre, stop the bloodshed.


  1. Wow your last statement, "These journalists will haunt our minds. They are "dead proof" that we knew what was going on but chose to stay home and not fill the streets screaming: stop the massacre, stop the bloodshed.." really hit home....Your words throughout this short blog just gave me a multitude of emotion. Your narrative approach is very heartfelt!

    1. Thanks for you comments...As this was written almost three weeks ago, we the situation has worsened. I am really at a loss of words....louis

  2. The Syrians in Damascus are responsible. Instead of joining the protests and showing the world that Syrians are united in their call for the complete removal of the Assad regime, they have chosen to stay quite and protect their "privileged middle class lifestyle" shame on them. It's honestly all thir fault. When western nations question Assad, he says this resistance is not supportive of all the people and references how quite it is in Damascus and other big cities. The world needs clear indication that this is a popular movement. They need to get off their asses.

    1. While this of course does not hold true for all the middle class, I do agree that the middle class in Damascus have not joined any where near as one would expect. Perhaps, in the future, I will think this over and comment more in depth. Thanks for your thoughts. Louis

  3. At 77, all I have to offer is my heart and toraise the subject when I am in public places
    and ask for others opinions. So few people have any response; other than "Well you know it's the middle Eaast, what can one expect.
    Or even wworse replies, "Let them all die, the
    entire Middle East and we can have peace and prosperity and not have to be bothered by all this talk of war." So sad. When is the world at large going to accept that all humans deserve and are entitled to peace.PLEASE WAKE YP!

  4. May the journalists rest in peace.
    I love Shadid. His work has left a permanent imprint on my consciousness.
    Syrians=Palestinians, but supporting Palestine is far more chic.
    I support your protests.
    Unfortunately, our social constructs prevents some of us from hitting the streets and seeing humans.