International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Bearing Witness in Syria – A Correspondent’s Last Days

This morning I read an article in the New York Times titled “Bearing Witness in Syria a Correspondent Last days” which consisted on the trip of two journalists smuggling into Syria in order to obtain firsthand information on the current situation of the country.  The story of their journey is narrated by only one of them, because the other reporter Anthony Shadid, passed away in Syrian ground due to an allergic reaction. The article narrates the inhume conditions in which the Syrian population is living in, affirming that most activist have either been jailed or tortured by the Bashar regime military.  The editorial piece also explains how the fighters are recently defected Syrian Army soldiers, who are apparently more organized than the Libyan rebels. During their stay the journalist were able to witness a battle between the ruthless Syrian army and the rebel fighters, a situation in which the most affected are the civilians who are forced to hide and relocate to safer ground every time there is a confrontation. The article demonstrates the chaotic state of Syria, hospitals are barely functioning, patients are being force to recover at home, power cuts are constant and there is a shortage in fuel. Doctors are killed or tortured for helping wounded fighters or opponents to the Assad government. Despite the violence and risks of helping foreign reporters, the activists who sheltered the two New York Times journalists are willing to jeopardize their lives to help them attain as much information about the atrocities being committed and reveal them to the world.

Up until today about 7000 Syrians have been killed, journalist and activists are risking their lives to expose the situation in hope that the international community will intervene. Nevertheless we still have not seen the most important nations put a stop to the situation.  The Security Council needs to make a referral to the ICC as soon as possible. To me it is more than evident that Assad fits the definition of a war criminal and his government has certainly committed crimes against humanity, how many more deaths are we going to need in order to put a stop to the situation and seek for justice?.

I also found the article intersting because it displays a photograph of a young teenage boy, of approximately 13 or 14 years of age carrying a firearm. The New York Times identified the kid as a “young fighter”, therefore  couldn’t he be considered a child soldier? Doesn’t this picture confirms that the Syrian fighters are also committing crimes against humanity by recruiting children?. And If the UN Security eventually refers the case to the ICC , couldn’t the rebel leaders be charged with crimes against humanity?

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5 responses to “Bearing Witness in Syria – A Correspondent’s Last Days

  1. skmonroe707 March 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    There’s also reports now coming out of Homs about children being murdered. The red cross is also still being denied entrance to the city. There’s no doubt that terrible crimes are being committed with Syrian Security forces doing everything they can to keep people out
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17255912

  2. Alana Tiemessen March 5, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    What do you guys think of this argument that asks “Why Syria?” when the international community has been so selective about humanitarian intervention? Foust doesn’t argue against stopping the atrocities in Syria, but calsl attention to what might be perceived as hypocrisy when cases like Mexico, Congo, Sri Lanka, etc. have been ignored.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/syria-and-the-worlds-troubling-inconsistency-on-intervention/253802/

  3. dodger18 March 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Why Syria? Seems like a logical argument to make especially when he presents the overbearing evidence of other atrocities being committed on a larger scale. In all the cases he refers to there have been cases of civilians being targeted directly, in an effort to quell resistance to overhead regimes. Especially in Sri Lanka when civilians were relocated to No Fire Zones by their government. This article from early 2010 talks about the shelling of NFZ’s by the government, which destroyed hospitals and Humanitarian aid operations. The Sri Lankan government knew the size and location of the camps, yet they continued to barrage them at a constant rate. As this case is presented it seems incredible that it would not have garnered national attention. But one characteristic stands out in the cases he presents, and that is the availability of Humanitarian aide. In Syria, Assad has blocked all aid to areas such as Homs, which are in desperate need of medical assistance. It seems reason for this would be the blatant disregard for civil rights in the targeting of civilians including young children, who are being executed. Do you think it is the denial of Humanitarian aid to civilians that has brought this case to the forefront?
    http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/asia/south-asia/sri-lanka/191-war-crimes-in-sri-lanka.aspx

  4. ka815 March 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    I find it very interesting that this article ends with a comment about “R2P” (Responsibility to Protect) because it is a fairly new and unexplored idea. Does the UN and other powerful nations have a responsibility to intervene under circumstances that could be categorized as crimes against humanity? At first I must admit that while I was reading the article I thought there should have been a distinction between just “military intervention” and “humanitarian intervention” carried out by military forces. The article falls short of making clear which one the UN was opposed to. It seems as if there is also a lack of distinction when discussing humanitarian aid, because this can be offered in a variety of different ways by different sources. As I just mentioned, military forces can intervene on humanitarian grounds, such as in Libya, or NGO’s such as the Red Cross can intervene on humanitarian grounds as well. I am not sure about military humanitarian interventions, but I know that it is illegal under the Geneva regime to deny NGO’s such as Red Cross aid workers the right to provide aid to those in need.
    I agree with the article that military intervention on non-humanitarian grounds may not be the wisest choice for the UN, but I think that intervention on humanitarian grounds is absolutely necessary. If the UN begins to subscribe to the theory of R2P, then this will also negate the political aspect of what the article is discussing with regime leaders making it less palatable for Western forces to intervene. Responsibility to protect will offer all countries the opportunity for humanitarian intervention, even though it may seem like a daunting task at the time.

  5. claudialora March 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I agree with this article, Why are we giving so much attention to Syria if there are a several number of conflicts that have contributed to a greater number of death tolls around the world?. I believe that the international community should concentrate in eliminating any factors that cause great number of deaths, abuses, and violations.
    As the article explains warfare is not the only cause for the high number of deaths throughout the world, Hunger, disease are also important factors the international community should consider when deciding the type of conflicts that deserve intervention.

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