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Worst humanitarian crisis continues to stare Syria with millions dead and injured in 8-year-old conflict

By Zainab Gazala Sheikh

O Sham ! Tere daro dewaar jo zarbul misl the kabhi,
Laho ke anchal mein liptey abb khamoosh khandar khade hai,
Woh nanhi siskiyaan jo imdaad ko thi muntazir,
Kayi mudat pehle ab dum tod chuki hai.

Syria is witnessing a wrath of human rights violations for last eight years in which millions of Syrian have been killed and injured and over 12 million displaced from their homes.

The Syrian Civil war is a conflict between its long serving government and those seeking to boot it out of office. The Assad Family has held power in Syria since 1970, first it was Hafez-al-Assad and then Bashar-al-Assad.

Anti-Government demonstrations began in March 2011 as part of the Arab Spring, but the peaceful protest quickly escalated after the government ordered a violent crackdown and armed opposition groups began fighting back.

The war has killed more than 500,000 people since it began. Horrific human rights violations are widespread. The Syrian conflict has created the worst humanitarian crisis. Families are struggling to survive.

Government forces used internationally banned cluster munitions against civilians. Arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, torture and forced disappearances by government forces continue to be widespread and systemic in Syria and taking place within a climate of impunity.

In February 2018 Syrian Government forces backed by Russian warplanes escalated bombing of Eastern Ghouta, resulting in death of hundreds of civilians. Eastern Ghouta has been under siege since 2013. The war in Syria is causing profound effects beyond the country’s borders with many Syrians having left their homes to seek safety elsewhere.

Syria Killings4A doctor reported to a mediaperson saying that we are standing before the massacre of the 21st century, in eastern Ghouta. If the massacre of the 1990s was Srebrenica, and the massacres of the 1980s were Halabja and Sabra and Shatila, then eastern Ghouta is the massacre of this century right now.

He also quoted a story saying a child came to him who was blue in the face and barely breathing, his mouth filled with sand. He (doctor) emptied it with his hands. He also added by saying he has never seen wounded child breathing with lungs of sand before. There are many stories like this. The children are being brutally killed.

The genocide in Syria is horrible, and even the definition of genocide given by United Nations is not applicable there. The legal definition of genocide as articulated in United Nations convention 1948 on prevention and punishment of the crime of Genocide is of no use for Syria.

The definition says: “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such.” The situation in Syria lies under the ambit of this definition but the authority is showing no attention.

UNICEF spokesperson reported the tragic events by saying thus: “Words can’t describe the humanitarian calamities and suffering of the besieged people of Ghouta.”

According to UN Refugee Agency, over 5.5 million refugees from Syria have been registered since February 2018, and estimated that there are over 6.5 million internally displaced persons (IDP) within Syria’s border.

My question here is not for United Nations or any other human rights organistions, but it is for the Muslim Ummah. As such, Muslim Ummah is considered to be like one body if one part is in pain the whole body should feel pain likewise if one Muslim is in pain the whole Ummah should feel the same, but in case of Syria these lines have lost their meaning. Why do the Muslim nations that should be responsible for their fellow Muslims reject them? Why Muslim Ummah is not breaking silence over the Syrian genocide? Why in the world of Muslims there’s not a leader to speak out boldly on the Syrian crisis? What are we doing? Have we lost our consciousness? Have we forgotten what we’re? Don’t we believe on the words of Allah? Don’t we know Syria (Al-Sham) is considered to be the Heart of Islam and the Blessed Land in The Quran? Don’t we know how much Mohammad (SAW) had concern, love and affection towards Al-Shaam.

The Prophet (SAW) once said how blessed is Al-Sham. The companions around asked, why it is so. Mohammad (SAW) replied I see the angels of Allah spreading their wings over Al-Sham.

[Zainab Gazala Sheikh is a law student from The Law School, Jammu University, Jammu, J&K. She can be contacted at [email protected]]

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