Syrian blood dripping through our fingers

Rana Allam
8 Min Read
Rana Allam
Rana Allam

The list of Human Right Watch reports on Syria includes such titles as: Syria: Sexual Assault in Detention, UN: List of Shame cites school attacks, Syria: Stop grave abuses of children.

While images and videos are mostly dubbed 18+ for graphic content, only a handful of people could actually film what really goes on. Images of Syrian regime soldiers look mostly the same: a heavily armoured man with bloody knife in hand and heavy weapon hanging off his shoulder, marching slowly in deserted smoky streets among destroyed buildings and shattered glass; the soldiers seem to have slaughtered everyone in sight without flinching.

Every morning we read news of hundreds killed in some town, and the news has become so mundane that we do not read the details anymore… ”yet another massacre”, I tell my reporters, “any news to report on?” because we can’t just publish death toll every day. I wish we could though!

Those of us who found it in ourselves to watch the shocking videos and look at the images have seen mutilated unrecognisable bodies, heads severed, bones sticking out, limbs torn off, guts and brains splattered over walls and floors, pools of blood in which human parts float. An example of how horrific the raids are is a story reported about a woman who was raped, then had her breasts torn off before being left in the street. One human rights activist deemed what is happening in Syria as “much worse than what I saw in Bosnia”. Of course, human rights activists and official delegates are hardly able to carry on their investigations or witness incidents as they usually arrive after the massacre and hear people’s stories, reporting only what they can verify, which is very little compared to what eyewitnesses see but are unable to provide “proof” of… as if one might take out their camera and take photos while their neighbours are being mutilated in front of the building!

So basically, these soldiers wake up in the morning and equip themselves with Kalashnikovs, a set of knives with different sizes, and God knows what else. Then they head to a village, spread out, enter houses or underground shelters and bring everyone outside; men, women, children, the elderly. The usual course is to keep the men outside, send the women and kids back inside, slaughter the men, return to the houses to rape and mutilate the women and children, before finishing up by setting everything on fire. Then they return to camp, have a meal and go to sleep to refresh themselves before the next day’s raid. Such are the stories we are hearing now that what we read in fiction about the dark ages has become the new world’s news. How barbaric have we become?

The real question might be how do you turn thousands of soldiers into blood thirsty psychopaths? The military approach remains the same: dehumanise the enemy and with the green light to kill coming from on high most soldiers don’t have a problem shelling and bombing entire neighbourhoods and villages. Research once showed that 80 percent of people would go as far as electrocuting other people with extremely high voltages if a “doctor” told them they should. So if you “should” and this is the “enemy”, then all is well. Now, shelling and bombing is a sort of a detached way to murder; one is far away from the victim, so not seeing them die in front of one’s eyes might be easy for soldiers who are trained to kill, but the slaughter, rape, mutilation, evisceration of guts and eyes and brains and breasts, now that baffles me. How do you turn humans into zombies?

Does it involve drugs? Watching horror movies before bed? Running sex mixed with violence tapes while they sleep? Hypnotism? What do they do to dehumanise humans, to turn perfectly sane individuals into psychopaths detached to the point of “zombiness”? And does it work with everyone or do they choose their subjects?

I remember the incidents involving our own army after the 18-day revolution, like the museum incident in late February 2011 where they took revolutionaries inside the museum, beat them, harassed the girls, took off their clothes and performed virginity tests on them. Then I compare it to the cabinet incident, where girls were dragged by their hair on the asphalt, while being kicked in their chests and electrocuted with tasers. All this while images of dead Egyptian bodies piled up near a garbage dump keep popping in front of my eyes. Could this army have gone brutal and murderous if clashes progressed? If our government continued dehumanising the revolutionaries and dubbing them “enemies of the state”, would our army go that far slaughtering Egyptians? I wonder. Because if Al-Assad’s regime could do this, I suppose every army can. And then again, I remember the torture implements found in the State Security underground detention facilities, and I just can’t help but think that those who were responsible for torturing, maiming, and raping Egyptians are still at large, walking with us on the streets. Complete psychopaths roaming free, and holding positions in our Interior Ministry while they should be jailed in mental institutions. But that is a story for another time, given that thankfully, our military leaders were not so drunk on power.

It is scary to know that humans are capable of such actions and other humans are reluctant to react. Leaving crazed killers to roam freely is blood on our hands, and more blood will be shed as we sit and speak and negotiate politics. While President Morsy annoys the Syrian delegate and we applaud, while the Turkish president makes condemnations and the refugees at his borders are targeted by Syrian army zombies, while the Iranian president sends more weaponry to Al-Assad’s brutal regime, and while we silently disregard investigating whether our Suez Canal is being used in this horrendous war, Syrians are being slaughtered, maimed, raped, and systematically tortured. Syrian blood is on our hands.

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