by Anna Mahjar-Barducci
The Syrian regime is not even sparing the lives of innocent children. The Saudi-owned newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, reported in October that 186 children have been killed since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution on March 15. The youngest Syrian child killed by the Army was only two months old. The Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram reported in its English edition that "there are dozens of video footage of bodies of children from Deraa, Homs, Latakia and other Syrian areas showing severe signs of torture, pulled-out nails, gorged eyes and severed limbs."[sic] Despite international pressure, the Syrian regime does not hesitate to describe these young and innocent victims as "terrorist infiltrators.".
A Thirteen-Year Old Child Tortured and Killed
In May 2011, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, who was only 13 years old, was among the many Syrian children to have been killed by the Syrian security apparatus. After his death, he became the symbol of the Syrian regime's brutality. It was revealed that the young boy was killed after being tortured, "suffering numerous fractures and broken bones." The Globe and Mail wrote: "His jaw and both kneecaps had been smashed. His flesh was covered with cigarette burns. His penis had been cut off. Other injuries appeared to be consistent with the use of electroshock devices and being whipped with a cable." A video of his mutilated body circulated on the Internet, raising criticism from all over the world against the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Asharq Al-Awsat reports that other Syrian children were subjected to torture prior to death, among them Tamer al-Shari, aged 15, Abdullah Jeha of Homs, aged 13, Malik al-Masri, aged 17, and Nasser al-Saba, aged 16. "Reports that the Syrian security forces have tortured and killed children in their custody would, if confirmed, mark a new low in their bloody repression of protests," said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program.
"The Flower of Syria's Martyrs"
Many other children have been victims of the regime's brutality. Some of them were shot in demonstrations or at home with their families, others died by suffocation from tear-gas, still others have been abducted. Al-Ahram reports that Moussa Al-Wadi, aged 12, was shot in the head, rendering him brain-dead. In August, in the capital Damascus, 25 members of security forces and death squads chased 15-year-old Ramy into a mosque. The Egyptian weekly writes that "soon afterwards protesters in a nearby street heard a single shot". Ramy's mother is still awaiting his return.
In May, Hajar Taysir al-Khatib, aged 10, was instead killed after being run over by a Syrian security forces vehicle. She was soon after named by the Syrian opposition as "the flower of Syria's martys." Hamza Balla, aged 10, was also killed after being hit by an Army's vehicle. Al Ahram reports that some infants died in hospitals after Syrian authorities deliberately cut off power there. "Activists said that more than 20 infants died in their incubators because of the power outage," the weekly states.
Asharq Al-Awsat also reports that a large number of Syrian children became prey of organ harvesting; some Syrian children were even abducted from hospitals prior to death. In July, Umar Hama-Kazo, aged 12, was killed by security forces and his dead body was kidnapped. Murshid Abu Zayed, aged 18, was killed after being abducted from the hospital and his body was found to be missing organs.
Despite their young age, Syrian children already have political awareness. Many have been left orphans by the regime. On YouTube, you can listen to their testimonies. A child says the Syrian Army arrested her father and her uncles, and added that the security forces did not spare anyone in her family. "They left nobody; they even took my cousin who is 15. This is so unfair…they even broke into our house and awoke me with a machine gun pointing at my head, I'm just a little girl…"
Syrian children, the future country's generation, are taking a stand. They have decided on their own to protest against the regime in order to fight for their rights. The French TV channel France 24 brings footage of young students joining the protests and chanting anti-regime slogans: "According to reports from cyber activists, a number of schools across the country have been deserted, as students strike in protest against the acts of violent repression which took place in the classrooms over the summer holidays when security forces used the [classrooms] as detention facilities. And it would appear there has been a proliferation of school children's protests since the start of the new school year. Their slogan [is]: 'No classes until the president is brought down."
On June 3, demonstrators called for a protest in support of the Syrian children. "Syrian people have decided to make today the day of Martyrs children, the Day of Freedom Children, and we are going to protest in all the squares and we will face their gunshots and snipers with our peaceful Morals and Olive branch, and we will never stop until justice taken," read a statement on Facebook.
Syria's Civil Society
As a consequence of the regime's brutality against children, some Syrian mothers who have not been shot while trying to defend their children -- as happened to Elham Dawdani and Shafiqa Hayan al-Faris, both killed alongside their children -- have instead died after suffering heart attacks or strokes upon receiving the news of the death of their children. A heartbroken Syrian mother was recorded on camera crying for her children; the video is posted on You Tube: "The dictator took our children! Where are our children? The army came and took all my kids and my husband and I have nothing left."
Members of Syria's civil society say they hoping that, in addition to the recent Arab League ban on Syria, these tragic accounts can somehow create pressure throughout the Arab and Western governments to take a clear stand against Assad by taking military measures to prevent the further murder of innocent children.
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