Sunday, 27 March 2016
Muzna Al-Naib speaking about Palmyra
"The city is not saved. ISIS and Assad are basically two faces of the same coin. I spoke today to activists inside of Palmyra, they said nothing has changed. Before ISIS took this city, the artifacts were looted by Assad's shabiha, and the city has long been known to Syrians as the site of one of most horrific prisons, where people have been tortured to death. At least 1,800 people have been killed in the 80s, in seven massacres, and basically the city has been bombed with cluster bombs for the last few weeks, causing more than 50% of the neighbourhoods in the city to be destroyed.
This is the perfect propaganda game. The city was handed to Daesh, to ISIS, according to the former attorney-general of Palmyra, who spoke about this; and now it was taken again. So as the loss of Palmyra was the perfect coin to get international attention, now the regaining of Palmyra is the same thing.
There are two evils on the ground. The people on the ground are fighting both, but the outside world are more concerned about the artifacts than the people on the ground. No-one can claim they are more devastated about what is happening to the heritage of Syria than Syrians; but come on, human life is more important, the protection of civilians should be the priority of any narrative about Syria, and there is no excuse for putting all the attention on the artifacts and playing the propaganda game of Assad and ISIS.
What needs to happen now is the protection of civilians. There are so many prisons right now in Syria where people are being tortured to death. The tragedy of Palmyra prison shouldn't have been repeated, shouldn't be going on right now. Inside Sednaya prison, people are dying in horrific ways right now. We need the world to act. We need them to prioritise human lives, our human values, rather than historical artifacts."