Several months ago I wrote about how I was disgusted by footage of war crimes appearing on YouTube. I was sickened then to see such footage appearing on a website that is used by families all over the world to watch movies and TV shows and clips and entertainment. It’s still going on, on YouTube by the way and I don’t think it’s the place for it. They keep hardcore pornography in check, so why not this kinda stuff?
I’m all for freedom of the press though and I’m glad to see that evidence of crimes being committed is being collected and distributed through other journalistic means and websites such as LiveLeak and other modern news outlets online (even Wikileaks has an important role to play in modern reporting, making us aware of the things the governments of the world would rather we didn’t find out – you keep informing us Wikileaks!)
Yes – I’m again talking about the civil war in Syria. A war in which the West has done little to intervene in a meaningful way and continues to stand back and watch as two sides carry out the most horrific of crimes on each other leaving an embattled suffering population in the middle, screaming for help, running for the hills, and dying trying. Innocent men, women and children are being slaughtered and caught up in fighting and the Western governments, such as the shit-failing-sham-clueless administration that currently occupies Westminster in London, simply talk about it, do nothing, send strong words to the evil doers and then go for tea and biscuits. It’s disgusting.
We only have to look at the news that has been coming out of Syria over the last week or so (this war has many tales to tell, its now into its 3rd year, it’s not so much an Arab Spring than a total fucking quagmire), many stories of sickening bloodshed and death already written across this conflict.
War Crimes by both sides
Last Friday a video appeared online that showed a Syrian opposition fighter mutilating an enemies corpse, he cuts open the mans torso and rips out his liver and heart and takes a bite at the heart (I’m not so sure he takes a bite out of it). That is a war crime, desecrating human remains is not just a war crime but is a sickening and wrong thing for anyone to do regardless of the circumstances, the law or the consequences. It is above derision. Although, and I’m not defending the crime, the man who carried out the horrific ceremony, Abu Sakkar, has today said in a second internet video that he is happy to stand trial for his war crime as long as the current President of Syria, Bashar Al Assad, also stands trial for his crimes against Syria and its people. This is a gesture made to unite the opposition and offer himself as a man of (some sort of) honour (he isn’t). But we have to accept that the regime is over and that the longer it clings to power the worse the situation will get (these crimes are not over, trust me). There is no future for Syria under the old regime, too much has happened, a lot of water has gone under a very dark and dingy bridge. We have to hope that the people who are fighting for the opposition are largely unlike this man Abu Sakkar and they truly are fighting for a free Syria and a better and a democratic Syria. There of course will be a few Radical Islamists along for the ride (the popular media calls them all ‘al Qaeda’), but that seems to be normal in wars in this part of the world. A few terrible people latching on to anything to carry out horrible crimes to satisfy their fucked up world view and hunger to end life for no reason (yes, I’m comparing Radical Islamists to psychopaths, because that’s what they are!)
And despite this crime, my flag has to fall on the opposition side. Of course there are a few people carrying out crimes in the name of the war, but considering it’s a civil war that engulfs two separate fighting forces that are both made up of hundreds of thousands of men we are seeing very few (thankfully) war crimes (apart from the government backed ones, keep reading…) but I’m not defending anyone, a single war crime is one too many for me and the people on the opposition side that have carried out murders and tortures in the name of the revolution must be made to pay, court and jail has to follow. Justice has to be done.
Do war crimes have grades? I’m not sure. But I feel that shooting a man dead is one thing, burying a civilian journalist alive is another and that is the news that has been coming out of Syria in the last 48 hours or so. It seems today that some news sources are saying that the footage might be a hoax or faked but why fake it? I’m pretty sure that men in the middle of a civil war have bigger things to think about than getting a viral video onto the news, but that’s just my opinion. The video itself shows a man buried up to the neck and Syrian government soldiers talking about him as he begs for his life, then they bury him alive in shovelfuls of dirt. If this is a hoax it’s certainly bad taste but I can’t help but feel that it’s real. Maybe I’m wrong, I hope I am but when I watched it (and the sound was on) it seemed pretty damn real to me (and I don’t speak Syrian).
One thing that isn’t mentioned very often on the news is the Syrian refugee crisis. We have seen, according to the UNHCR, 1.5m people displaced as a result of the war in Syria. These people are now homeless and in another country. Imagine grabbing your wife and kids and leaving your home to run across the border, but then imagine doing it because if you didn’t, one, or all of you could end up dead for doing nothing wrong? As well as the refugees the UN also says that as many as 4m people have been internally displaced by the civil war. With a population of 22m people that means nearly a third of the countries population have left or been forced to move. We have no figures for how many out of the remaining two-thirds are fighting on each side but we do know around 80,000 people have been killed (that is a UN figure so is probably way off the true figure which will be much higher.)
Chemical Weapons and Al Qaeda linked groups
In March of 2012 in Khan al-Assal the Syrian government were reported to have used chemical weapons against its own civilians. We had reports that men were being brought to hospital with symptoms of exposure to chemical agents used in weapons of mass destruction. In late April of 2013 canisters that were similar to canisters linked to other unverified attacks in Syria were found in Saraqeb after what appears to be another chemical attack by the government on its on people, with more cases of people suffering symptoms to those seen in people exposed to Sarin nerve gas.
Russia arming Syrian regime
Russia have now armed the Syrian government with anti-ship cruise missiles that offer a better ground to ground and ground to warship capability and clearly offers Syria the power to repel advancing forces from abroad and avoid no fly zones imposed by foreign powers. My main worry here is why isn’t the UK or the US putting pressure on Russia or talking to Russia about this situation? Why are we sitting idly by, after our twelve years of being intervention loving war mongers? We made up evidence to go and get Saddam and yet we might have proof that Assad has chemical weapons and still we sit on our thumbs and simply watch. Why? Is there too little oil under Syria for it to be worth our while/blood?
Many months ago I was drawn to the conflict in Syria and was sickened. Today I’m still sickened. Nothing has changed. People are dying day after day after day. Innocent people. The people with the power in the West do nothing but talk about supporting the opposition, the Russians openly support the Assad regime, in the meantime the tiny seed that is radicalism starts to grow ever so slowly and only our slow decisions to intervene can allow the rot of al Qaeda to prevail. No one on the ground or on either side wants that. Justice, rights, freedoms and democracy are what the seeds of the Arab spring were created from. Today in Syria none of those things are growing or prevailing, existing or even struggling. In Syria we only have barbaric civil war and it’s time we in the West stopped observing it like a disease in a Petri dish. Innocent Syrians are human beings, so why don’t we as human being act to end this war?
Justice, rights, freedom & democracy. Where are our morals and beliefs now?