The never-ending horror story of Syria | Press release me, let me go | 7 Mar 2012 | Amnesty International UK

The never-ending horror story of Syria

Yesterday I had that slightly strange experience of searching for something online and … stumbling upon something I’d actually written myself. (C’mon Google, can’t you do better than a Niluccio blog post in your search results?).

The point, though, is that this old post of mine - about Syria - from last August included the observation: “The body count in Syria is now terrifyingly high - in excess of 2,000 are now dead, the majority apparently unarmed protesters …”. Terrifyingly high ... yes, but less than a third of the current death toll. However bad Syria gets, the last 12 months have shown that it can - and does - get worse and worse.

As the horror of Homs continues day after horrifying day, and terrifying (though unconfirmed) reports of summary killings by the Syrian security forces filter out, the situation seems to be reaching a new humanitarian crisis point. (Robert Fisk talks today about possible comparisons to Srebrenica, a thought that is perhaps haunting lots of minds). As I write a Syrian Red Crescent team and the UN’s Valerie Amos have entered Homs’ besieged Baba Amr district. To judge by recent media reports, what they will find is that Baba Amr is now in a completely calamitous condition. An account in the Guardian says that “Residents who fled Baba Amr spoke of bodies decomposing under rubble, sewage mixing with litter in the street and a campaign of arrests and executions.”

Meanwhile, Monday night’s broadcast by Channel 4 of uncorroborated but shocking footage apparently showing torture in state-run Syrian hospitals, is yet another reminder of the crimes that have been perpetrated in this terrible period in Syria. Months ago Amnesty was reporting on just such a nightmare world-turned-upside-down, where injured people in Syrian hospitals were being further injured, mistreated not treated. (This killer doctor / angel-of-death nurse trope is, I reckon, one of those truly chilling ones that strikes a nerve whenever it emerges. From One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’s Nurse Ratched to the real-life Harold Shipman …).

Things are desperate and depressing, but efforts still need to be made to save lives - please support Amnesty’s campaign to get pivotal country Russia to start putting serious pressure on its ally Syria.

With international leaders like David Cameron talking ever more frequently about holding the Syrian authorities to account, there is almost - almost - a sense in which the diplomatic end-game has begun. Then again, has it? Assad will be gone by the end of the year, says Britain’s ambassador to Syria Simon Collis. But will he? I still don’t see an end to this horror story. Back in August I was horrified at 2,000 dead in Syria. What will the death toll be by this August?

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