Another Statement, Another Massacre

This piece was written on August 21 by a Harvard student who wished to write anonymously.

On August 21, the United Nations issued yet another statement expressing its shock and concern towards the latest death report coming out of Syria. One of several statements issued over the past two and a half years, this report is as hollow and as meaningless as its predecessors.
The level of helplessness of the UN’s statements regarding Syria has become appalling and outright shameful. And, with Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s recent shock, expressed through his latest public statement, the writer cannot help but question Ki-moon’s actual knowledge of this fresh death report from Syria. The amount of suffering in Syria is cause for more than plain shock, and definitely deserves much more than simply concern from Mr. Ki-moon.
One thousand three hundred and counting have died so far in this latest massacre and this number is expected to rise as more debris is parsed. A Government-initiated chemical attack has left the Damascus suburb of Al-Ghuta abjectly mourning its dead, most of which who are young children. Pictures of their bodies, lined up on a hospital floor, flooded my Facebook news feed today. No blood. No visible physical injuries. Just dead bodies. Counting in the hundreds. Stacked close to one another to make space for more incoming bodies. The total death number has in Syria has reached over a hundred thousand. The world has done nothing but watch Syrians bury their dead.
Bashar Al-Assad has possibly crossed Barack Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons against his own people. Scientific confirmation to such use would require, however, a team of scientists to visit the area and run certain tests. Six months ago, the government accused the rebels of launching a chemical attack on a northern Syrian town. Only yesterday, they allowed a UN scientific team to investigate that attack. The team is not allowed into other parts of the country where similar attacks, of which the government is accused of perpetrating, have happened. This team, which has just arrived to Damascus, is highly unlikely to be permitted into Al-Ghuta.
That being said, experts have pointed out several supporting evidence to the fact that the Syrian government has indeed used chemical weapons against unarmed civilians; bomb explosion smoke patterns, patient symptoms described by on-the-ground doctors and documented on video, and witness testimonies all point to the use chemical weapons.
Global leadership can somehow disregard this striking death toll, and demand further evidence of use of chemical weapons before taking any action. As it seems, killing your own people is a cause of disturbance to the world only when you use a certain type of weaponry. Although Assad’s regime has killed over a hundred thousand Syrians thus far, the world do not seem to care beyond verbal condemnation, and reserves its right to feel shocked from a safe distance, because, as far as it can tell, Assad has only traditional weapons to do so. The global community cannot confirm the regime’s use of chemical weapons, mainly because it is not allowed to, so the world will just assume the best of Bashar Al-Assad, leader of a 40 year-old tyranny, and carry on with its statements of concern.
[Update as of August 27] On August 26, the Syrian government allowed a UN team to go into Al-Ghuta to investigate the use of chemical weapons in the city. This took place only after the Assad regime heavily shelled the area, destroying much of the evidence the team needed. Moreover, the team was only given the authority to confirm or deny the use of chemical weapons and was prohibited of accusing anyone of their use. With the Syrian government, backed by Russia, accusing the rebels of this last massacre, a Russian veto against any possible international action against the Syrian government is almost guaranteed. However, the fact remains that the death toll in Syria is absurdly high, and the last chemical attack accounts for less than 1% of the casualties thus far.

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