Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Syria: The forbidden truth | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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When we saw the images of the massacre, and the horror of what had happened to its victims, we suddenly thought that dying in a mortar shell attack would be more peaceful than what was experienced by the victims of the Karm al-Zaytun massacre in Homs.

Children were brutally killed in cold-blood…and then there were the images!

Some of these children died with their eyes open; the terror and murder did not allow them even a final respite. It was clear that these children knew they were facing death; that there was no form of deception.

As human beings, the images from the Homs massacre are beyond our ability to understand. As journalists, the bloody scenes of the children and all the other victims of this massacre are nothing more than the latest black mark condemning our profession. This exposes the extent to which we have surrendered to the desires of the Bashar al-Assad regime, which is preventing us from covering the explosive events in Syria first-hand.

The Syrian regime has prohibited us from entering Syria and covering the revolution there. Whilst the Arab media seems to have agreed to this, Western journalists did not surrender to this prohibition and were not convinced that this ban was reason enough to prevent them from entering and documenting what is happening in the country. These journalists infiltrated Syria and revealed news and stories that confirmed what we had already known about the revolution since its first day, namely that the Syrian protesters are facing an oppressive and killing machine, whose tyranny knows no boundaries.

Some of those Western journalists were killed, and the regime threatened that “necessary measures” would be taken against those that remained, or other journalists who attempt to infiltrate the country.

There were voices of objection in Lebanon, for example, who asked: how can journalists be allowed to infiltrate Syria via Lebanon? They called for these journalists to be arrested and held to account, issuing statements calling for action to be taken against those “violating [Lebanese] sovereignty.”

Yet those talking about alleged violations of sovereignty did not take into account another question: how can we allow the killing of children [in Syria]? Who is allowing these children to be killed? We should pay more attention to this, rather than taking into account who is allowing journalists to infiltrate Syria. The outrage, caused by a slight border infringement, cannot compare to the bloody violation of the sanctity of life, and here it seems perverse that those denouncing the infiltration of journalists into blood-stained Syria are in turn justifying the killings taking place there.

Perhaps we can say that the death of journalists [in Syria] is another strong reason against Arab journalists going to Homs and Idlib.

But can we still believe this, after we saw the massacre of women and children in Karm al-Zaytun?

Some were right to say: If we, as Arab journalists, went to Syria and observed what was going on there, this would not change the reality or diminish the extraordinary efforts being undertaken by the Syrian activists. These Syrian activists are covering the events on the ground whilst under fire, and then covering their own deaths as well!

However these activists are covering the events on the ground in Syria – which they are experiencing first hand – in our absence, for we are the ones who are supposed to be covering this, reporting on their revolution and their victory over oppression. When one Lebanese media outlet reported that “both parties” in Syria share responsibility for the massacre that took place in Karm al-Zaytun, it did not seek to physically go to Syria to cover this, and therefore was unable to provide its readers with the truth or who was truly responsible for what happened!

We are being prevented from covering the events in Syria first hand, but this does not mean that we must believe the official account being put forward by the Syrian regime!