By Zachary Medeiros
In Eastern Ghouta, people are dying. Only a stone’s throw away from the seat of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the luxury hotels of UN officials, they are dying in the hundreds. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Doctors Without Borders, the Syrian-American Medical Society, and residents and activists on the ground, nearly 600 people, including over 100 children, have been killed since February 18 alone. At least 2,100 have been injured, and nearly all of the hospitals and clinics in the area have been targeted, with most now out of commission. Despite the heroic work of the doctors, nurses, and other medical workers still serving this besieged community of 400,000, they lack the supplies and manpower to fully cope with the resurgent violence. These words and cold statistics cannot come close to expressing the horrors the people of Eastern Ghouta have been forced to endure: years of siege, starvation, shelling and bombardment, and the worst chemical massacre in the history of the war.
As they have since the Syrian masses began their revolution, the Assad regime and its allies (chiefly Iran and Russia) continue to butcher unarmed civilians under the guise of fighting terrorism. The Coalition for Peace, Revolution and Social Justice rejects the idea that the presence of groups like Jaish al-Islam in Ghouta justifies mass-bombings or other acts of state terrorism against civilian populations. This holds regardless of these groups’ crimes against the Syrian people and civil society. We believe that this principle applies equally to Syria as it does to Iraq, Gaza, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. The ideology of the “War on Terror” has become a universal rot, and we must oppose it wherever it appears.
How has the so-called international community responded to this latest round of butchery? On February 24, the arch-imperialist powers on the UN Security Council voted unanimously in favor of a month-long ceasefire in Syria. In less than 24 hours, the resolution was revealed to be another worthless scrap of paper, as a top Iranian military official announced that operations against the “terrorists” in Ghouta would continue, and the Assad regime launched more airstrikes, an attempted ground invasion, and possibly a chlorine gas attack. Once again, the UN and the imperialist nations have demonstrated how deeply they care for the Syrian people.
The people suffering in Ghouta and across Syria are not abstractions. They are not terrorists, or passive props in geopolitical stage plays. They are real human beings, with flesh and blood and minds, struggling for peace, for freedom, and for justice. For life. Their struggles are not disconnected from ours, nor is their misery. The forces of racism, imperialism, and all other forms of oppression-in short, the forces of capitalism- are watching Syria and learning its lessons. If Assad and his allies can massacre, torture, starve and expel those they deem terrorists for years, with shameless impunity, why can’t they?
We call on you to hear the voices of the people of Ghouta and all of besieged and oppressed Syria, and respond to their demands. Stop the bombing. End the sieges. Free all political prisoners. Send humanitarian aid convoys to those who need it now. Support grassroots Syrian organizations, like the local councils and women-led groups still active in the city of Douma today. If you oppose the Turkish-led assault on the Kurds in Afrin, we call on you to oppose the Assadist attacks on Ghouta and elsewhere in equal measure. A democratic Syria must be democratic for all Syrians. Let your friends, family, communities, and all the world know that Syrians still exist, and that we must do better than the capitalist governments that won’t lift a finger for them.
For further information about Ghouta and what you can do to help, see this website. https://ghouta.com/index.php/ten-ways-to-help/
Approved as a statement of the Coalition for Peace, Revolution, and Social Justice on March 1, 2018.