Monday, February 27, 2012

A Referendum of Shame

The gruesome images coming out of Syria are more than upsetting and angering. At this point, they are maddening. How can anyone ignore the desperation and suffering of innocent civilians? How can anyone turn a blind eye on the bodies and limbs littering the streets in cities across Syria? The killing and mutilation of unarmed and unsuspecting victims and the deafening noises of dissent have been going on for much too long to ignore or pretend they don’t exist or claim they are fabricated lies, or products of “conspiracy.”

Ordinary citizens are documenting the atrocities using their mobile phones or amateur cameras and uploading hundreds of videos daily to the Internet. The situation in Syria is so critical that the Syrian regime has not allowed any journalists to enter the country to report freely and independently away from the watchful eyes of the censors. Thus, the task of reporting the Syrian revolution has fallen on the shoulders of ordinary Syrians and a handful of reporters who snuck into the country without the knowledge or approval of Syrian authorities. In addition to the tragic death of several foreign and local reporters, the flood of images of death and atrocities have outraged most of the world with the exception of a few who must have lost their voices, their hearts, and their minds or traded them for the benefit of their national interests or close ties to the Assad clan.

Armed with the support of a handful of leaders still standing by his side, and empowered by the unaccounted number of Syrians who remain loyal to him, President Bashar Assad held a referendum on a proposed new constitution for Syria. It’s hard to imagine how people were able to make it to the polls when most of the country is under siege as a result of fierce fighting between Syrian forces loyal to Assad and the Free Syrian Army representing the opposition and demanding that Assad relinquishes power immediately.

Many have been saying for months now that the president appears to be out of touch. He is unwilling to face reality and admit how dire the situation in Syria is and how much control he has lost in the past eleven months.

While people are dying in the dozens every day in Homs, Hama and other major cities, the anti-Assad manifestations have reached the capital Damascus. Despite the daily toll among civilians of all ages, Assad’s conscience remains unscathed. Instead of tending to the violence or acknowledging its existence, he went to a polling station accompanied by his well-groomed wife and he voted as he flashed his shiny teeth to the cameras as if nothing is wrong in Syria.
As if no one is accusing him of massacring his own people.
As if many countries were not meeting at that very moment in Tunisia under the banner “Friends of Syria” to discuss support for the opposition and his removal from power.
As if Syria is not on the brink of civil war.
As if everything is fine in the world with Syria moving towards reform and introducing a new political slate as clean and crisp as the president’s clothes.

For the past year we have seen the situation in Syria deteriorate from a shy demand for reform to an all-out uprising. At the rate things are going, if Assad is not reigned in promptly, his nonchalant attitude will take the country down towards a slew of worst-case scenarios without even the option of a best-case one.


Keep the conversation going...

Blogger Nabilah said...

The news of Syria is every day a source of grief and dismay for my husband and myself. He is Masri, I am American, and we live in Qatar. This place feels like such a refuge-it is so hard to realize that the families of our friends and colleagues are suffering so greatly. We hear personal stories-brothers, fathers suffering and dying. Not just the sad faces on TV, but the sad flesh and blood faces in front of our faces. It must end. I have no idea how that will happen, but it must. At first I didn't know or understand what was happening in Syria, but the longer this goes on, the more expat Syrians are free to tell the truth of what things are like in their country.

February 29, 2012 at 4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Assad is a savage. His regime is murdering innocent people. How can the world stand by and allow this to happen? And now Syria is also killing journalists who are in the country to bring the truth of the Machiavellian maneuvers of Syria to the world. RIP Anthony Shadid and other journalists/ photographers who have died while working in Syria.
God bless you for covering this important topic. Prayers to the people of Syria for a better future, free of the dictator Assad.

February 29, 2012 at 8:14 AM  

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