War on children

Women and kids are the main targets of torture and rape in Syria. Saffiya Ismail asks the question: Where is the “Responsibility to Protect” in this country?

Children are being tortured in Syria; women are being abused, men are being slaughtered at the hands of the government’s own security forces who are supposed to be protecting their own people.

Many say that these stories are not verified, and the sources are not reliable. How irrational and sidetracked can people be to say these stories are not reliable? 

Our very own Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who is not known for making unfounded claims, reported that that Syrian security forces are ‘going for the children’ in their hundreds, and targeting them for detention and torture. They are killing children as young as two years, so that they do not grow into demonstrators.

The depths of this brutality, with the most recent massacre of hundreds of men, women and children confirm that the fighting in Syria has moved way beyond human rights violations.

As Navi Pillay points out, if President Assad ordered the killings to stop, they would stop.  The army is under his command. It’s not some terrorist group, or militia trying to overthrow him. It’s his army; he is the Commander in Chief, so the power to stop the bloodshed is with him.

We are writing such a shameful legacy, the world looks on as innocents are murdered, slaughtered. All the international community does is offer humanitarian assistance, but refrain from stopping the carnage. 

This reminds one of the Sarajevo Crisis, the massacre in Rwanda, we sat back and watched ethnic cleansing, and only after thousands had been killed we decided to assist. Shouldn’t world leaders’ band together in times like this and “put their foot down” and say no more, we as world leaders will not tolerate this.

I was a history student, I understand the United Nations. We have international systems which are supposed to become active when a country becomes a violent playground and goes against the acceptable standard and norms, and when its citizens become targets. There is the Security Council, the UN peacekeeping structures. We have an International Criminal Court, yet with all these mechanisms to protect the citizens of the world, it’s failing the people of Syria.

This is why this is so shameful. Our humanitarian assistance is us sending them band aids to stop the bleeding from the numerous gunshot wounds.

Do you recall the Libyan Crisis, when Muammar Gaddafi threatened to massacre people in Benghazi?

President Obama ordered an intervention in Libya under the banner “Responsibility to Protect” After the intervention his words were: “To stand by and do nothing would have been a betrayal of who we are.”

Almost 14000 people are said to have died since the Syrian crisis began. The disappearances, executions, indiscriminate shelling of populated neighborhoods carried out by the Syrian government, have not jolted anyone into intervening. We keep sending UN Observers and Kofi Annan to discuss issues with Assad. The world was so quick to mobilize for Libya, Afghanistan, and Egypt and even against Saddam.

The saddest part is that women and children are always the targets. It’s senseless and barbaric when you see little children bleed. Guess some would say, that the price of war, they women and children are the casualties.

For me personally, seeing any child hurt, bleeding or dead touches a nerve.

If we as citizens of the world cannot protect them with all the systems and structures designed for that purpose, then why do we have useless systems?

“Responsibility to Protect”, this is what we should be marching about, protecting children globally against torture, massacres and senseless killing.

Check out Saffiya's blog or follow her on Twitter.

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- Women24

Read more on: abuse  |  torture  |  syria  |  war

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