FRIDAY 2 DECEMBER 2011 | PLUTO
Syria ignores the voice of its youth Active in the politics of their country, why are the children of Syria detained rather than listened to?
Firstly, what future does the Syrian government see for its country? What aims do they pursue? And finally, why children? A group of young people, some as young as 11,
were arrested and then tortured in Deraa on the South West of Syria for drawing graffiti critical of the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad in March this year.
In response, dozens of Syrians took part in demonstrations on 18 March, while troops were sent to suppress the protesters and four civilians were killed. This incident then became the start of a chain reaction of protests that began to spread across the country, attempting to address the regime of Bashar al-Assad and were criticising the corrupt and stagnant state apparatus. As reported by Syria-today.com
children demon- strating alongside adults is indeed a familiar sight, and students at the beginning of the school term expressed their open rebellion with placards stating ‘no studying until the fall of the regime’. Several video clips of ‘pre-teen student rallies’ in almost every region of the country have been posted online, while other more distressing footage allegedly show the corpses of children killed by security forces. The irony of the situation is that Syria is indeed a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which stipulates the right of children to freedom of expression, peace- ful assembly, and protection from violence. The problems that the youth of Syria face are of similar disputed matters that lead the global ‘Oc- cupy’ movement, such as bureaucracy. Countries like Syria, Egypt and Libya are now at the fragile state of redefining its national character, and that new image being built up should combine with the rest of the modern world on not only a political, but cultural and spiritual scale- but by what means is it transforming? Teenagers from 11 to 18-years-old from Damascus, Homs, Banyas and Deraa are being arrested, tortured and even killed. This devastat- ing illegitimacy is representing the government’s lack of confidence in their diplomatic possibilities to resolve the conflict as well as the evidence of impunity they experience. Nawal al Shari, a mother living in Deraa, in
March received her mutilated 15-year-old son’s body five weeks after his disappearance. At that time he was on a march among other school children trying to help the surrounding residents. Addressing the security forces, the woman asked: “Don’t these people have children? Aren’t they human like us?”
A UN Human Rights panel has since con- demned the widespread child abuse. At the mo- ment it is calculated that 3, 500 plus people are officially dead or missing since the beginning of the uprising. Exactly how many of them are mi- nors? To add to that six more children, including a 12-year-old are reported to be dead as of Wednes- day 23 November. However, when talking about civil war, the inevi- tability of the sacrifice of life is historically implied. Though whether there is a way around this is a question needed to be answered by the country’s government, which now seems too ignorant to even consider it. If Syria wants to keep not only the power but
support of citizens, it can be logically assumed that it should take care of socially weak groups, includ- ing children, and those who need their government to provide them with the social security and assist- ance in pursuing their aspirations for a better future for themselves, their family and their country.
he army’s brutality against children and teenagers who actively take part in protests in Syria raises many questions in my mind.
Protesters from all around the world have shown support for the Syrian revolution including those from Barcelona, Spain, (above), Belgium capital, Brussels, (below right) and Cairo in Egypt (below left)
Photo: Zeinab Mohamed (Flickr)
Photo: Gwenael Piaser (Flickr)
Photo: Dave_B_ (Flickr)
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