Syria between two massacres: Hama’s memory endures

Wadah Khanfar writes: While Russia and China were using their veto to abort a UN security council resolution against the Syrian regime, the news of a massacre in Homs came thick and fast. In an unprecedented escalation, the Syrian regime sought to exploit the international hesitancy to have a bloody showdown with its opposition.

This came after Syrians had observed for the first time in 30 years the anniversary of the massacre carried out in Hama in February 1982. It is regarded as one of the most gruesome events in Syria’s modern history. On that occasion, former president Hafiz al-Assad decimated most of the city of Hama with aerial bombings and tanks. About 30,000 inhabitants perished, while a similar number were detained, tortured and many killed in prisons. All this occurred in the shadow of the cold war and with the cover of the Soviet Union, which was then allied to Hafiz al-Assad’s regime.

Last Friday, Syrian protesters rallied under the slogan “forgive us Hama, we apologise”; a clear reference to the abject silence that has overshadowed that massacre throughout the last three decades. Although Hama was an ever-present bleeding wound in the Syrian popular conscience, and a humiliating disgrace that shook their souls, people were prohibited from remembering or mentioning it throughout the entire period of Hafiz al-Assad’s rule. When his son assumed power in 2000, many were optimistic that he would at least give some consideration to the victims or reveal the fate of the thousands who were swallowed up in the prisons. But the young president chose to follow in his father’s footsteps; he perpetrated another massacre in Hama and many others in Homs and other Syrian cities and towns. However, this time Bashar al-Assad has miscalculated. The Syrian revolution, which has so far sacrificed more than 7,000 dead, will not end unless the regime is overthrown.

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2 thoughts on “Syria between two massacres: Hama’s memory endures

  1. Osama

    Mr Khanfar is suspected by many to have a Muslim Brotherhood links/background. I think it clearly shows in the spin he is putting on this story. I think it is quite suspicious that the “massacre” was happening on the same day for a vote at the UN, how could that possibly serve Syria’s interest. It seems more likely that this was propaganda effort (as was the supposed takeover of Damascus suburbs) to push Russia/China into rubber stamping a SC resolution, because the US/NATO/GCC alliance are well aware that the Syrian government is in fact succeeding in putting down the armed rebellion. The MB/SNC should have stuck with peaceful protests instead of going for gold with the armed attacks, maybe they were believing their own exaggerations.
    I have no doubt that Syrians want and deserve change, but this is not the way. The US are always keen to promote “dialogue” when its their allies that are facing political turmoil (lets not talk about Bahrain or Saudi or Morocco or Jordan). The problem for the US and its allies is that Arabs see right through their rhetoric we still remember Gaza and Lebanon when Israel needed more time to bring about the birth of a new middle east. I think the US see’s this uprising as an opportunity to remove a strong ally of the resistance to Israel. Any new regime in syria would be weak and in disarray for the first few years and would be ripe for influence (“investment” is the word they would use”).

  2. Lysander

    Osama, you are quite correct according to these tweets.

    BREAKING: BBC’s Jim Muir says activist groups in #Syria are revising down death toll in #Homs significantly from earlier figure of 200.

    “…@DamascusTweets Local Coordinating Cttees now says 39 deaths in Khalidieh, 8 in other districts of #Homs, and 8 outside city. #syria …”

    Via Friday Lunch Club blog.

    I’m no fan of the Assad regime, but I don’t believe everything the rebels say. The fact that their claims are carried by major media is not by coincidence. And I don’t trust the intentions of the US/EU/Turkey/Qatar/KSA one bit.

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