Springs of Hope Met with Rivers of Blood

Madison Dalton, Assistant Student Life Editor

In mid-March of 2011 yet another spring surfaced in the Arab world, this time in Syria.  What began as a peaceful march by citizens of a small southern city has now escalated into a blood-bath that has the world taking sides.  The protests originated
when students were tortured for creating anti-government graffiti.  When the government responded with violence, yet more protests erupted across the country.

The face of the revolution is not that of die-hard protester, but of a little boy.  During a March protest, 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb got separated from his parents.  He was detained at a police roadblock.  A month later, his corpse was returned to his family covered in scars from being whipped, with burns probably caused by electric shock, smashed hands, and a bullet wound through each arm.  When a video of his funeral reached YouTube, Hamza became the fruit vender of the Syrian revolution.

Since then, war atrocities and violence have only escalated, reaching their peak in the past few months.  Tortures and bombing of civilians have become commonplace, most notably in the city of Homs, which has appropriately been dubbed the “capital of the Syrian revolution”.

In response to such devastating violence, the United Nations Generally assembly approved a resolution that condemned the Syrian government’s handling of the revolts.  The resolution is a political weapon only, and will not lead to direct action against the violence.  Nonetheless, the fact that it was passed in an overwhelming 137-12 vote, demonstrates the overwhelming feeling of disapproval that the world feels for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s actions.  Among those countries that voted against the resolution are Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela and North Korea.  These countries have since received international criticism for their refusal to rebuke the Syrian government’s brutality.

To complicate matters further, Al-Qaeda has recently gotten involved in the protests, no doubt to take advantage of the country’s instability.  In Washington, some politicians intelligence officials Lebanon claim that an Al-Qaeda branch launched the February bombings in Aleppo and the January and December bombings of Syria’s capital, Damascus.  These bombing are responsible for countless deaths.

The UN estimates now that over 5,000 people have died in the Syrian violence, with an estimate of 14,000 individuals who have been tortured, beaten, or detained.

Like any revolution, the politics of the revolution are complex and any solution far from simple.  For the time being it appears that Syrian citizens will simply have to wait and hope that someone throws them a life-raft before they drown in their own spring.