Saturday, 22 August 2015

Syria, Etc.

 "Now, the everyday violence and death Syrians witness is no longer recorded in full force unless events surpass the daily “acceptable” quota of death—like it did on August 16 in Douma, after more than 100 people were killed by a regime aerial attack on a crowded marketplace. These kinds of mass tragedies, like the chemical weapons attack in 2013 and the Daraya massacre in 2012, capture the world’s attention—headlines, outrage, condemnation—for a few moments before Syria’s suffering once again fades to white noise. When the country has been reduced to smoldering ashes and its people have been forced into a mass exodus to new countries and new homes, our capacity to document—to speak or write and chant—dwindles. History collapses into a simple etcetera.
 At the beginning of the revolution, documentation existed in the present tense, serving to expose what was happening in real time, and breaking Syria’s history of oppression by finally speaking and showing truth. But now, the urgency to be noble and fearless witnesses has faded. There is no humane “world” that exists to plea to for help. Syrians once believed that uploading hundreds of videos of barrel bombs dropping from regime helicopters on civilian areas would be enough to declare a “no-fly zone”—because what world would watch a government indiscriminately bomb its people and stay silent? People believed that documenting repeated chemical weapons attacks would eventually end them. Instead, Obama’s “red line” became a green light for the Assad regime to continue using chemical weapons, including chlorine-laden bombs, even after a United Nations Security Council resolution to ban them. People believed that more than 55,000 smuggled images of tortured, skeleton-like corpses in Assad’s prisons would create an international outrage that would finally send Assad and his regime where they belonged—a trial at The Hague. Instead, Syrians were left alone to battle Assad, Al-Qaida and ISIS."

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