“Why does the regime lie?” Here, the question alludes to the ruling system in Damascus. This was the title of an article written by Selim al-Louzy, the owner of “Al-Hawadeth” magazine, 31 years ago. When he returned to Lebanon to bury his mother, he was kidnapped, tortured and killed. Prior to his assassination, his brother Mustapha was kidnapped and murdered, in an act intended to be a kind of punishment and threat.
“Al-Nahar” director Jubran Twini borrowed the same title, “Why does the regime lie?”, and wrote with the same spirit and theme in 2005, in an article which challenged the Syrian regime. He was also later killed in a car bomb attack.
Eight weeks ago, the disfigured corpse of a singer was found in Hama, Syria. It was Ibrahim Qashoush with his throat cut; a man who was punished for singing in support of the uprising. Nevertheless, his works were extremely popular on YouTube, and millions of Syrians sang his songs.
A few weeks ago, the Syrian government announced that an investigation committee had been established to probe the attack on the celebrated Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat. Ferzat had recently survived an attack in which he was abducted, tortured, stabbed in the arms and disfigured, before he was dumped by the side of the road. To add insult to injury, the regime has announced that the security forces—who are responsible for his ordeal—are now probing the crime!
Why does the Syrian regime lie about its crimes which everyone knows about? The regime lies only to deceive the international community by portraying its innocence. Meanwhile, on the domestic level, it deliberately reinforces the image that it is responsible for the crimes, as part of its policy of spreading fear. The regime’s war against intellectuals aims to silence its rivals. It deliberately defames and distorts its critics, whether they are dead or alive, so as to remind everyone that it is capable of reaching anyone, and capable of committing crimes right in front of the eyes of a silent world.
Throughout four decades, the Syrian regime has killed numerous journalists, writers and artists. In a series of bloody crimes, it is the only suspect responsible. This era began with the killing of al-Louzy, and the assassination of the head of the Lebanese Journalists Association, Riyadh Taha. After power was bequeathed to the son, Bashar Alassad, famous intellectual Samir Qusseir was assassinated; Jubran Twini was killed, and TV presenter Mai Shediaq was maimed when her car exploded and she lost her leg.
The intellectuals attacked and killed by the Syrian regime, such as cartoonist Ali Ferzat, were never part of any armed militia group. They were killed only because they represented the conscience of a large sector of people who disagreed with the Damascus regime.