Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

Yesterday, American journalist Marie Colvin was killed in a government bombardment in Syria. Her final report, issued from the city of Homs, can be found here and reads in part:

Snipers on the rooftops of al-Ba’ath University and other high buildings surrounding Baba Amr shoot any civilian who comes into their sights. Residents were felled in droves in the first days of the siege but have now learnt where the snipers are and run across junctions where they know they can be seen. Few cars are left on the streets.

Almost every building is pock-marked after tank rounds punched through concrete walls or rockets blasted gaping holes in upper floors. The building I was staying in lost its upper floor to a rocket last Wednesday. On some streets whole buildings have collapsed — all there is to see are shredded clothes, broken pots and the shattered furniture of families destroyed.

It is a city of the cold and hungry, echoing to exploding shells and bursts of gunfire. There are no telephones and the electricity has been cut off. Few homes have diesel for the tin stoves they rely on for heat in the coldest winter that anyone can remember. Freezing rain fills potholes and snow drifts in through windows empty of glass. No shops are open, so families are sharing what they have with relatives and neighbours. Many of the dead and injured are those who risked foraging for food.

Fearing the snipers’ merciless eyes, families resorted last week to throwing bread across rooftops, or breaking through communal walls to pass unseen.

Marie Colvin

For better or worse, it feels particularly poignant to learn of the death of a journalist as she set to the crucial work of telling the stories of the world’s most endangered and most vulnerable. Amazingly, in the conditions described above, the people of Homs braved the streets of their decimated city en masse last night to honor Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik with a show of gratitude.

In the United Nations, intervention for Syria, such as that that the U.S. sent to topple Qaddafi in Libya, was double-vetoed in the Security Council by Russia and China earlier this month. There is still hope for action by the Arab League, but meanwhile the Assad government continues to attack its own people mercilessly. Bashar Al-Assad acknowledges in this interview with Barbara Walters that no government in the world kills its own people unless it is led by a crazy person as Syria clearly is.

Marie Colvin in her final report wrote that throughout Homs, “On the lips of everyone was the question: “Why have we been abandoned by the world?”” When Assad questions the legitimacy of the United Nations, it is hard for me to disagree, but not because the horrific reports are unsubstantiated. Rather because it cannot seem to move its behemoth bureaucracy to fulfill its purpose: to prevent atrocities, protect the innocent, and create a world where that question can be answered with a resounding “You haven’t.”