Syria is a moral crisis of the international community
By: Dr. Louay Abdulbaki
Two years ago, in March 2011, the Syrian people took to the streets starting peaceful demonstrations against Asad’s dictatorship. Their basic demand was freedom and peaceful political reforms. The Syria regime responded to peaceful protests with brutal force and vicious violence, involving indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians by firing life bullets against unarmed protesters and launching air and artillery assaults on residential areas, apparently targeting civilians, which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Within six months of peaceful demonstrations, thousands of people were killed and massacred. This eventually pushed the political confrontation into an internal armed struggle for freedom. The regime forces intensified its abuses, including kidnapping, torture, and extrajudicial executions.
The spread and intensification of these human rights violations have led to a dire humanitarian situation. According to the UNICEF, over four million people have had their lives shattered. Half of them are children. Children are innocent victims of war and they are vulnerable. Thousands of Syrian children have already lost their lives and the lives of tens of thousands are in danger.
- Let us consider some specific numbers and statistics. Up until this moment we have:
- More than 1,364,000 refugees in neighbouring countries
- More than three million displaced inside Syria
- Loss of lives has amounted to more than 80,000, according conservative estimates, including more than 16,000 women and children, many of whom died under barbaric inhumane torture.
- More than 100,000 people missing:
- More than 200,000 prisoners.
According to U.N. Refugee Agency, the level of Syrian refugees could go up to two or three times the current level by the end of 2013, if the present flow continues. The U.N. refugee body says more than 400,000 refugees have fled Syria since Jan. 1, 2013. Around half the refugees are children, most of them under 11 years of age.
All of that was not the result of a natural disaster! So, who is responsible for all that? There is no doubt that, not only the murderous who committed these heinous violations, but also those who allowed this to happen are morally responsible!
Thirty years ago, Asad, the father, committed similar crimes and massacres in the city of Hamah. Prior to the start of the current uprising, Syrians could not imagine the possibility of these crimes and human rights violations taking place again in the 21st century. Back then, thirty years ago, the regime was able to cut all means of communication with Hamah, so not many people were able to find out what was happening until it was all over within one month. However today, all kinds of crimes, atrocities and barbaric human rights violations have been going on for two years while the whole world is watching.
NATO Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries have been deployed along the Turkey’s border with Syria to protect Turkey from a possible attack from Syria. This indeed can be used to create a no-fly zone in Syria, protecting the innocent civilians from government airstrikes, had the NATO willed to act. A NATO-imposed no-fly zone in Libya in 2011 led to the downfall of the country’s long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Ironically, since the deployment of NATO’s Patriot missile batteries, Asad’s forces have stepped up ballistic missile strikes on the northern towns of Syria that fall within the reach of NATO’s Patriot missile batteries. In many cases, there was no sign of fighters or rebel bases in areas hit by the regime’s ballistic missiles, only civilians, and each strike completely destroys 15 to 20 houses.
The international community has failed to meet its moral responsibility in acting more effectively to bring about an end to the regime’s brutality and help the victims. Syrians have lost confidence in the international community because of its shameful stand.
The reluctance of the so called ‘Friends of the Syrian People’ who have held five international conferences without any tangible results, and the Russian and Iranian military support, on the other hand, have enabled the Assad’s regime to remain in power far longer than would otherwise have been possible.
Urgent and determined action is more necessary than ever.