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