Homs: a city in Syria proud of its contribution to culture, its distinguished history and its beautiful mosques and churches. That was then. Now, the mere mention of the city’s name immediately conjures up the spine chilling image of a young boy, Hamza Bakkour, sitting in a newly erected field hospital with half of his face blown off.
Homs has become the bloodiest city in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. Thousands of citizens have been killed, maimed and tortured, tens of thousands have been injured and hundreds of thousands have had their livelihoods destroyed. Why? Because they asked for freedom.
Last week saw the deadliest single attack in Homs, only a day before Russia and China vetoed the watered down UN resolution to condemn the actions of the Syrian regime. At least 200 people were murdered in the space of a couple of hours. The very army that is meant to protect and ensure the safety of the people is being ordered to fire upon them without remorse, resulting in the brutal and indiscriminate killing of men, women and children.
Evidence, in the form of thousands of graphic images and videos, have come pouring out of Homs as activists struggle to make the world aware of an ongoing massacre. They show us the dead and the injured, the homes reduced to rubble, and the horrific daily bombardments and humiliations that civilians are forced to endure. With so much disturbing evidence, it is hard to believe that almost 11 months since the beginning of the revolution, not a single serious step has been taken by the international community to condemn this vile oppression.
Day by day, hour after hour, bombs rain down on the besieged city and flood the streets; mutilated and broken bodies float on the rivers of rubble. The rooftops that remain standing are infested with silent snipers that shoot anyone unlucky enough to pass within their sights. It is impossible to seek safety in Homs and even attempting to provide humanitarian aid is fraught with danger; reports show that after bombing an area, the army waits for help to arrive and then simply bombs the area again. Nowhere is safe.
People all across the world are struggling to get in contact with their families and friends inside Homs. Many only see the homes of their loved ones severely damaged through videos and images, and are left hauntingly worried at the unknown fate of the inhabitants. No one knows if their loved ones are dead, alive, or have been detained – the latter being a fate worse than death. The struggle of Homs has extended to the rest of Syria and the World. We are all anxiously waiting to hear any news of our families. I too anxiously wait.
Under siege, no one is allowed to enter or leave the city. The regime is attempting to starve Homs into submission; food and medicine are scarce, and the meagre supplies that remain are destroyed by the army in their calculated shelling of shops and hospitals. Many of those desperate and starving citizens that leave their homes to search for food and water never return.
Russia and China’s decision to wield their vetoes at the United Nations Security Council did not come as a shock to most, and it has provided Bashar Al Assad with the explicit message that he can continue to perpetrate atrocities against his own citizens with impunity. However, this revolution will not end until Assad is gone and these vetoes will have resulted in nothing but the needless spilling of innocent blood. The victors and survivors will never forget those who aided them against their oppressors.
The immediate future of Syria is unclear now that the potential of multi-lateral international action under the aegis of the United Nations has been scuppered. Much rests on the actions and policies of the many individual actors entangled in the exceedingly complex geo-political web of Syria’s foreign relations. As a result of this complexity, it is very difficult to predict exactly how and when this gruesome period in Syrian history will end. One thing is clear however, the only people who will continue to pay the price until the world resolves this issue will be the innocent civilians trapped in cities across Syria, like Homs.
These people simply want freedom from a wretched, tyrannical regime that has ruled over them with an iron fist for over 41 years. As the first anniversary of the revolution approaches, the regime’s retaliation against the cause of freedom grows ever more brutal and bloody by the day. How many more like Hamza Bakkour must we witness before the world takes action?
Image from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9065214/Syria-uprising-live.html
Reclaim Your Stage:
The Platform is a groundbreaking blog that provides current affairs and cultural commentary. Our pieces offer challenging opinions from a range of spectrums; that’s why we love hosting a platform for them.