The Situation in Syria

4 Feb 2013

The Written Word is hosting its first ever guest post! This article appeared in the Fall 2012 issue Pearls Magazine. Pearls magazine is a seasonal, online magazine dedicated to Muslim teens in the West. You can find this piece and more at: article was written by its Canadian Editor, Aisha Hollyer. Aisha is a 16 year old home-schooled Muslimah. She loves creative writing, volunteering with the local community, researching social issues and of course learning and talking about Islam. Check it out and enjoy!!    
What would happen if you and I were to spray-paint anti-Harper slogans on the local library, school, or other public building?
We'd probably end up getting a strict telling-off from our parents and teachers. Our privileges would most likely be suspended, and, worst-case scenario, we'd have to find some way of removing the paint.
We would have had it ridiculously easy, considering what happened to the schoolchildren who did the same thing in the beginning of last year in Syria. In our case, no police, jail cells, physical pain, or traumatic torture would be involved. Unfortunately, in the Syrian childrens' case, their lives were destroyed when they did the same thing. For a few, their lives actually ended, as they were murdered by the Al-Assad regime.
In January 2011, a group of schoolchildren from a school in Giza, Daraa, spray-painted some of the slogans and chants they'd heard on the Tunisian and Egyptian uprising broadcasts onto a wall of their school. At 1 AM in the morning, the Secret Police broke into the houses of, and arrested, twenty-five of the students from the school. The boys who were apparently the leaders, Hamza Elkhateeb and Tamer  Alsharee, who were both thirteen years old, were detained for a month, after which their dead bodies were returned to their families. The bodies of both the boys were discovered to have several gruesome injuries caused by inhumane torture, any of which they could have died from. In other words, Hamza and Tamer suffered an atrocious fate, which no sane person would condemn an adult to, never mind a thirteen year old. (I do know exactly what injuries they sustained, but they're too sick to write here. Check out if you want to know. I'll tell you this, though: I will NEVER, EVER, for the rest of my life, play one of those virtual shooting or fighting games like Call of Duty. On this side of the world, we play and get a “Game Over” when we 'die'. Over there, they actually die. If they're lucky.)
And so began the Syrian revolution.
As for the other 23 children who were arrested in Giza, they were kept in prison for varying lengths of time. They were beaten, burned by cigarettes, and their fingernails were pulled out. I can never look at a bottle of nail polish the same way again. The officials who were in charge did not allow the parents to visit their children, even shouting at them to forget their children existed. Can you imagine? It's hard to believe that anyone would do that to a child who wrote on a wall. But they did. What else are they doing, right this minute?
And the children from Giza aren't the only ones. What makes the Syrian Revolution stand out from the other uprisings of the Arab Spring is the extraordinary amount of children involved. According to the Syrian Revolution Martyrs Database, 691 children were killed by the regime's forces from March 15, 2011, to February 27, 2012. They were all under the age of sixteen, and 151 of them were females. There have been confirmed reports of children as young as one year of age, being killed by sniper guns and by other means. There are also 437 child detainees. When one considers the fate of Hamza, Tamer, and the other children from Giza, these childrens' future looks very bleak. And remember, these are only the documented cases. Considering how reporters and other people trying to get the word out have been murdered by the regime, these could be only half of the actual numbers.
And if these are only the children under sixteen years of age, what is the total number of people who have lost their lives, been tortured, raped, and imprisoned, since the beginning of the uprising?
Thousands doesn't even begin to cover it.
The President of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad, has been stubbornly denying that these crimes have been carried out under his orders, saying that it's all the work of 'gangs'. Gangs don't collectively attack people peacefully protesting the rule of the Al-Assad regime. They don't keep it up for over a year and a half, and they don't wear army fatigues and carry sniper’s guns.
Now, people often ask, isn't Syria a democracy? The answer is, “That's what they want you to think.” It's true Bashar Al-Assad is called the 'President', and he is assisted by two vice presidents, a prime minister, and a cabinet of ministers. But 'President' Bashar Al-Assad himself appoints people to these positions, they're not elected to them. Also, Bashar's father, Hafez Al-Assad, ruled for twenty-nine years. When he died in 2000, his son Bashar ran unopposed for the position. Strangest of all, the Syrian constitution was amended to allow him to run for presidency. It's hard to believe that, in a country with so much potential, with a population of over 17,500,000, they couldn't find even one another candidate to run for the presidential election.
Now, do you remember the revolution in Libya, last year? Do you remember how quick the Canadian government was to send some military planes to assist the Libyans? So, why did it take the UN over a year to even deliver a warning to Bashar Al-Assad?
The answer is simple. Libya sells oil to the Western world. During wars, the prices of a country's exports go up. If the Libyan revolution had continued for as long as the Syrian one is, the economies of Canada and the US would have suffered significantly as gas and oil prices skyrocketed. This is not to say that the ideal solution is to bomb Damascus and Aleppo and and Homs, but it shows you how a country's values and moral standards can be flexible when dealing with the gold and green.
If the Western, Russian, and other governments that trade with Syria create sanctions, the Syrian regime would have to at least think twice about the consequences of their actions. Right now, Hillary Clinton is discussing government plans with Egypt. Russia just stopped providing the Syrian regime with weapons in mid-July, while it should have started 18 months ago. And how often do you hear about the situation in Syria when you watch or listen to any news station?
How many people have to die, how many families have to be broken apart, how many lives have to be shattered, while the world looks on and does nothing?


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