This year, on the 6th anniversary of the Syrian Revolution, it is with great sadness that we are still standing here today, going onto a 7th year of war in Syria, without any prospect of peace in the near future.
The Revolution began as months of peaceful demonstrations calling for reforms to governance. It turned into a bloody and brutal war after the regime began firing on peaceful protesters. In May 2011, Syrian army tanks entered various cities to crush the protests. In 2012, the regime deployed its force to bomb cities across Syria using barrel bombs and other unguided weapons, phosphorus bombs, chlorine bombs, cluster bombs. In 2013, the regime started using chemical weapons. In 2014, the Assad regime intensified the sieges and bombings, resulting in a mass exodus of refugees. The regime, with Russia from 2015, continued to bomb homes, schools, hospitals and even aid convoys. As a result, half of Syria’s pre-war population is displaced.
The biggest story of the past year has been that of forced displacement, a war crime. Residents of Homs, Aleppo, Darayya, Al Moudamia, Wadi Barada and Zabadani have been displaced. They were evacuated and displaced to other parts of Syria after brutal sieges and bombings forced them to come to an agreement with the regime. Even with these ceasefire agreements that contravene international law, the regime violated them many times. This happened in Wadi Barada and is now happening Al Wa’er.
Another terrible story of the past year is that more children were killed in 2016 in Syria than in any other year of the conflict. At least 652 children died and nearly half of those died in or near a school. And those are just the ones we know about. The children who haven’t died in Syria are living in a state of psychological devastation, with little or no access to healthcare and little access to education.
And yet despite the daily barrage of bombings, violence and torture, Syrians say they haven’t lost the struggle for freedom and that they will be the victorious ones in the end against the Assad regime and all forms of extremism in Syria.
The famous civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” It may take a long time, but justice and peace will come. War crimes cases are being filed around the world and masses of direct evidence are being gathered for these prosecutions.
The Syria Solidarity Campaign will be there every step of the way, no matter how long it takes to reach peace and justice. Come join us. Speak for Syria.