The story from Syria — another day –another bomb — other deaths. On and on it goes. The sun goes down. The sun comes up and more smoke fills the air.
While I refuse to surrender to hopelessness, the never ending civil war in Syria has got to be the symbol of despair. With over 60,000 killed (by United Nations estimates), the mortality rates continue to climb. The latest report details an explosion inside a university campus in Aleppo, Syria. Walls were blown off dormitories and cars left blazing. At least 80 people were killed. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 83 died and more that 150 were injured and in critical condition. The blame game continues as each side says the other did it. However, the evidence points to the Assad regime firing rockets that hit the university. The large scale extend of the destruction points to more powerful rockets being used than the rebels are known to possess.
Because the Syrian government bars independent media from reporting, it makes gathering reliable data difficult. However, reports and pictures leaking out of the country offer scenes of a landscape that looks like the cities in German at the end of World War II. Like skulls with empty eye-sockets and gaping empty mouths, the concrete remains stand like the skeleton of a decaying cow. Chunks of broken, jagged concrete stand in piles with barbed wire sticking out of the debris. Years of toil will be required to rebuild cities that have for decades already tottered on the edge.
Several years ago, I was in Syria and stayed in the downtown business area of Damascus. Pictures of the father and son dictators hung everywhere, even in the bathrooms and taxis. When I tried to pay my hotel bill with a credit card, they sent me to a bank to obtain Syrian currency. I stood in a long line as people shouted and shoved. After eating supper in one of their best restaurants, I contacted food poisoning that laid me up for three days. Getting the picture? Yeah, I knew I was in a dictatorship and a third-world country. I can’t imagine what that area must look like today.
On Saturday, January 19. a petition from 58 nations requested an investigation of the Assad regime for war crimes. The United Nations top human rights official had already called for an International Criminal Court to investigate the Syrian situation. The Syrian government rejected these moves saying they had a right to protect the people from “terrorism imposed from abroad.” The Assad government always refers to the rebels as terrorists. What prompted the pointed and harsh criticism was the BBC report of a massacre in Al Haswiya, a working-class suburb of Homs. At least 100 Sunni Muslims had been killed. The United Nations has not come out of this conflict looking like heroes. Far from it! Navi Pilay, the United Nations commissioner for human right has expressed dismay over the lack of action by the Security Council over these killings and abuses. She said,
I firmly believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed, have been committed, and should be investigated. I am deeply concerned that there has been no concrete action to address the situation.” She strongly backed the call from the 58 countries.
Will there be any change? Probably not until Assad falls.