REECE ALVAREZ — Special to Southern News
For months the world has watched as Bashar al-Assad has waged a continuous campaign of slaughter against the Syrian people. Details trickle in daily of death tolls, sniper attacks, torture, the targeting of civilians, children and now journalists. Yet like many atrocities before, the world has largely stood by.
With China and Russia’s veto of the United Nations’ resolution against Syria, the U.N., as in the past, has failed to act. Thus, the people of Syria and the international community are left hoping the latest attempt at a rescue, “The Friends of Syria” coalition, will bring an end to the massacre.
It has been well reported that the city of Homs, the center of the government crackdown which has been under siege for several months, has run out of all basic supplies. Under threat of snipers, people dare to run outside to help the wounded and search for food and supplies. The wounded are dying from treatable injuries and starvation is a concern. But as tanks have surrounded and blocked-off all exits from Homs, it is doubtful that aid will come in time. The citizens of Homs know the Syrian army is trying to wipe the city and its residents from existence. And the truth may be they are dangerously close to accomplishing that as the noose continues to tighten around Homs.
A professor of mine suggested that the smartphone, and its increasingly ability to record and photograph events in real time, is shaping the nature of how we respond to catastrophes. We didn’t lose our stomach for Vietnam because of staggering daily death tolls. The nation could no longer see its young men dying in jungles while they watched from their living rooms. And generations will never forget the anger, horror and shock that images of 9/11 left seared into our social consciousness, nor how quickly we charged into war following it. It makes me wonder, what will it take for the world to do something about the massacre in Syria?
The conflict in Syria has been like no other. The new capabilities of the digital age have never been so required and put to task as they have with the citizens of Homs and throughout Syria, who risk their lives to deliver footage to the outside world. To dare to document the atrocities is virtually a suicide mission. Already a number of Syrian and International journalists have died at the hands of the Syrian army: Rami al-Sayed, Basil al- Sayid and most recently Marie Colvin and Remi Olchik are among many individuals injured and killed. All of the journalists in varying degrees and mediums shared the same fate pursuing the belief that what was happening in Syria needed to be shown to the world in order for something to be done about it.
Shortly before Colvin and Olchik died, Colvin gave an interview from Homs to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians,” she told him.
The interview showed graphic images of an infant she had watched die that day, killed by a fragment from an artillery shell. Justifying the use of the graphic imagery, Colvin told Cooper, “That baby probably will move more people to think, ‘What is going on, and why is no one stopping this murder?”