Syria Faces Brutal Crack-Down, But it is No Genocide

As the crackdown in Syria has increased in a last-ditch effort to assert and maintain power by President Bashar al-Assad, so too has international pressure and rhetoric for the Assad to step down. In an effort to highlight the horrific, atrocious acts being committed at the hands of the government, the word “genocide” is being used to highlight the crimes. This would be a false description of the events embattling the country.

While the suppression and murder of Syrians is unacceptable on every level, the acts being committed in Syria are much more accurately described as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Genocide is an attempted eradication of an entire group of people, usually along racial or ethnic lines. Some would expand this definition to include religious, generational or even political lines. The key, however, being that it’s a very targeted attempt at wiping out an entire entity of people.

What is happening in Syria is not this targeted. It is random. Witnesses of one of the latest assaults on Homs indicated that anyone is a target. There are no safe spaces, including in local mosques. Other reports indicate that 18 premature babies succumbed to the Syrian regime when the electricity was cut at the hospital and their incubators stopped working.

Confrontations between pro and anti Syrian regime supporters spilled over into Lebanon recently, with at least two deaths and a dozen injuries.

Meanwhile, while the political battles are playing out on the streets in towns and cities throughout Syria and on the floor of the UN Security Council, hacktivists Anonymous have recently lashed out at Assad hacking into approximately 78 email accounts of top government officials and aids.

The “official website” of Syria’s first lady, Asma Assad has also been targeted. While initial speculation by many, myself included, thought this to be another Anonymous target, investigation by the International Business Times reveals that this was probably more of an elaborate hoax. No matter what the truth turns out to be, the simple fact is that this event has started a conversation and people are looking at Syria.

International outcry has increased. Human rights organizations are conducting awareness campaigns and putting pressure on global governments to intervene and end the bloodshed. Amnesty International is currently campaigning to put pressure on Russia to reverse their Security Council veto.

With all of the news reports and attempts at awareness, it begs the question: Are the crimes being committed any less atrocious if we don’t describe them as genocide? Or does the use of the word genocide attempt to draw more attention by using an highly charged word to describe the acts?

Photo Credit: Flickr

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Kathleen O'Neill

Kathleen O'Neill is interested in migration and refugee issues as well as international politics, with a particular interest in the Middle East. She has a double BA in economics and international studies with a concentration in Middle East studies from Washington College in Maryland. She has an MA in Middle East studies and a graduate diploma in migration and refugee studies from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Kathleen has co-authored two short articles published by the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC and London Middle East Institute at SOAS. She has lived in the MENA region for more than seven years.

MORE FROM

Wildfires in Arizona and Utah force thousands from their homes

Nearly 7,000 have been displaced between the two states.

Iraqi forces capture mosque where ISIS declared caliphate 3 years ago

Iraqi forces consider this a huge symbolic victory.

Angela Merkel sharply criticizes Donald Trump on climate change without ever mentioning his name

"Whoever thinks that the problems of this world can be solved by protectionism and isolation lives under a huge misconception," Merkel said.

Top Pope aide charged with sexual assault vows to fight his "relentless character assassination"

Pell is the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to be ensnared in the church's sexual abuse scandal.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Sterling family lawsuit, Low approval for GOP health care, Trump hotel sued

The important stories to get you caught up for Thursday.

CNN's Van Jones allegedly says the Trump Russia stories are "a big nothing burger"

He's the second CNN insider this week to apparently denounce the network's Russia coverage.

Wildfires in Arizona and Utah force thousands from their homes

Nearly 7,000 have been displaced between the two states.

Iraqi forces capture mosque where ISIS declared caliphate 3 years ago

Iraqi forces consider this a huge symbolic victory.

Angela Merkel sharply criticizes Donald Trump on climate change without ever mentioning his name

"Whoever thinks that the problems of this world can be solved by protectionism and isolation lives under a huge misconception," Merkel said.

Top Pope aide charged with sexual assault vows to fight his "relentless character assassination"

Pell is the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to be ensnared in the church's sexual abuse scandal.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Sterling family lawsuit, Low approval for GOP health care, Trump hotel sued

The important stories to get you caught up for Thursday.

CNN's Van Jones allegedly says the Trump Russia stories are "a big nothing burger"

He's the second CNN insider this week to apparently denounce the network's Russia coverage.