The Only Thing 2016 Lacked Till Now: A Live Massacre

Aleppo’s massacre is unfolding live on social media; and there’s nothing you can do about it

WARNING: This post contains triggers involving violence and suicide.

If you’ve been on social media lately and if you’re unlucky, you’ve probably seen tweets and Facebook posts from people inside Aleppo, bidding goodbye. The battle is over. The Syrian army has captured the eastern part of the city almost entirely. Aleppo, the erstwhile commercial capital which fell into rebel hands during the Assad regime in 2012, will now be under the regime’s direct control.

allepoThis may seem like a triumph, but comes at a heavy cost. The ruthless strategy implemented by the regime with Russia’s help, has lead to months of state-backed bombing. The battle has become nothing short of a humanitarian disaster. Hundreds of civilians are now dead. A move justified by the government to eliminate “terrorists”. As per the UN Human Rights office pro-government forces have killed at least 82 civilians, including 11 women and 13 children. The Syrian government has so far declined to comment on UN concerns. Yet we sit here and read about it on twitter.

 

 

Reports also suggest that Syrian troops were executing civilians on the streets. Activists in the area said at least 79 civilians were executed by pro-government militias, as reported by Reuters. Abdulla Saleem, 39, said, “They are killing everyone … Everyone is dying. I will soon die, too.”

Bidding Goodbye

The government troops no longer have a humanitarian corridor for civilians (which includes foreign journalists) to escape the war. As a result desperate Syrians trapped in the besieged city are taking to social media to describe their final moments and bid goodbye to the world.

“At home waiting for the inevitable fate that Allah wills,” Salah Al-Ashkar, 28, told USA TODAY. “I can’t see what is happening in street, but I hear bombs approaching. There is no safe building left. Possible that we (will be) exposed to bombing any moment.”

Some are flabbergasted by what they are witnessing on media. Others are demanding people go out into the street and awaken the world to the genocide in the making.

White Helmets, a volunteer  rescue service stated, “If we stay, we fear for our lives. The women may be taken to camps, the men disappeared and anyone who is known to have supported civilians will face detention or execution.”  Some reports suggest that certain citizens have opted suicide as a better alternative to being captured and possibly raped or tortured by the army.

 

Many have used Periscope to show their surroundings and record a last message. Thousands have tuned in to witness what is possibly the first genocide to unfold in the age of social media.

 

International Law

This is yet another Srebrenica massacre. This time unfolding in front of our eyes with field executions in display. The International Criminal Court won’t bring the wrongdoers to book either. Syria is not a member of the ICC, and it needs the UN Security Council referral for investigation, which was vetoed by Russia and China in May 2014. Other tribunals require SC backing as well. Seeing Russia’s role in the current massacre, future vetoes seem near certain too.

If you looked for a happy ending, this article cannot give you one. Syria is likely to witness mass impunity for crimes for the next few decades, with maybe a few isolated prosecutions by states for secondary defendants at best.

The international community seems to have fallen silent. There seems to be nothing we can do.

As Mohsin Salem, 33, said “To the world outside of Aleppo, to the United States, I don’t want to say anything more than stand by Aleppo. And if we all die, remember us.”

The Government is currently in talks with the rebels for a possible ceasefire, but there is no confirmation of a breakthrough at the moment. As humanity suffers, a lot lays in balance.

To look away is a privilege. Don’t value your comfort over the humanity of those that suffer. Don’t look away.

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