Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The media does not prevent massacres | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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We will continue to write about how the Syrian protesters have changed the media industry long into the future.

Over the past 11 months, hundreds of protesters have documented the situation in Syria, carrying out a coup in the world’s understanding of journalism and media, in a manner that has not been seen anywhere else in the world. For what is coming out of Syria at the hands of the Syrian protesters themselves is more than just news and images, this is akin to a live broadcast [regarding what is happening on the ground], to the point that the traditional media, particularly the television media, cannot compete with this.

However this unique situation that is taking place in Syria has an extremely high price; hundreds of Syrian revolutionary youth have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that news and images of the Syrian revolution reach the wider world, being killed and tortured at the hands of the al-Assad regime. The latest example is that of citizen journalist Amr al-Suri, who was killed last week trying to aid the wounded in Homs. The images and news of violence in Syria predict that this is only going to get worse.

Looking at images of violence taken in the city of Homs, we can only express our huge disappointment that the courage being shown by the Syrian protesters to document their revolution and the violence being committed by the al-Assad regime does not afford them even the minimum amount of protection. The painful images taken in Syria by brave youth who could die at any moment – or indeed perhaps have already been killed – will unfortunately not prompt any change in the situation or the actions of the al-Assad killing machine which will continue its path of violence and bloodshed until the end.

Before the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, we would say that the Hama massacre that was carried out by the totalitarian regime in Syria during the 1980s and which resulted in thousands of deaths would never have occurred – or at least would not have occurred in this manner – if the media was present and documenting what was happening, which is what is taking place today in Syria.

Even when the protest movement began, and the regime attempted to impose a media blackout on the country, the Syrian people invented new ways to document and reveal what was happening on the ground in the hope that this would restrict the violence and bloodshed of the regime. However the bitter truth that we must perhaps now acknowledge is that all of these images and videos, and all the sacrifices made by the Syrian youth to broadcast and reveal this to the world at large, have been in vain and failed to prevent unprecedented levels of violence being carried out against Syrian protesters and unarmed civilians.

The logic that claimed that if the media was present the Hama massacre would never have occurred has been proven false. For a massacre is truly taking place in Homs today, in front of the eyes of the world. The al-Assad forces and pro-regime Shabiha militia are carrying out a campaign of systematic violence against the Syrian people whilst the world looks on, and so nothing has changed!

However this does not mean that documenting what is happening, and the media, will not have a role to play in reducing such massacres. Pictures of shells bombarding Homs, and scenes of youth being killed may not protect the Syrian people from the violence and bloodshed of the al-Assad forces and the pro-regime Shabiha militia, but these may serve as historical documentation and condemnation to prevent such scenes from being repeated in Syria in the future.