Sunday, March 23, 2014

When Even ‘Terrorists’ Acknowledge Their Crimes

Special for The Armenian Weekly
For the past three years, Syrians have been terrorized by the ongoing conflict between the government and the various factions of the opposition. The destruction is staggering: 150,000 dead, 9 million displaced (refugees and IDPs), 3 million homes damaged, and half of the country’s infrastructure destroyed.
On March 8, the Martyrs of the Badr Brigade launched an offensive in the Meedan neighborhood of Aleppo. Later that evening, the brigade posted a Youtube video demonstrating the details of the operation.

“In response to the barrel attacks by the regime forces, we, the Martyrs of the Badr Brigade, will target the Syrian government bases in the Meedan and Suleymaniyeh neighborhoods,” said the leader of the brigade. “For their own protection, we urge civilians living near the Shabiha military bases to move out of those areas.”
The vast majority of the inhabitants of the Meedan and Suleymaniyeh neighborhoods are Armenians. Not surprisingly, the March 8 attacks damaged homes of Syrian-Armenians in Aleppo. “Go to hell you stupid people,” reacted one Syrian-Armenian civilian on social media. She later told me that her home had been destroyed in these attacks.
terrorist letter 300x224 When Even ‘Terrorists’ Acknowledge Their Crimes
The ‘apology’
A few days later, the leadership of the Lewaa Ahfad al-Moursaleen, another rebel group fighting against the Assad regime, sent a letter of apology to the Syrian-Armenian leadership in Aleppo.
The letter stated:
“We, the leadership of the Ahfad al-Moursaleen Brigade, apologize to our Armenian brothers for the mistake that took place yesterday in the Meedan neighborhood.
“We affirm that we are moving forward with our revolution against the tyrant and his supporters. The Kurds and the Armenians are our brothers. Their suffering is our suffering. We urge all of you to stand with the revolution.”
The ferocity of the Syrian conflict has left no room for objectivity. Every aspect of this conflict is analyzed and presented based on the vantage point of the beholder. For the Syrian government and its supporters, the Martyrs of the Badr Brigade or the Ahfad al-Moursaleen Brigade qualify as terrorist groups, whereas the opponents of the Syrian government hail them as freedom fighters.
But while subjectivity is the order of the day in Syria, the fact remains that the March 8 attacks failed to cause any damage to the Syrian regime bases. The attacks resulted in the damaging of homes and buildings belonging to Syrian-Armenian civilians. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the attacks terrorized the Armenian community in Syria and, more importantly, the attacks constitute a clear violation of international humanitarian law.
But while violations of international humanitarian law and all norms of international law is a common feature of life in Syria these days, the ironic aspect of the March 8 attacks is that the buildings that were damaged were located across the street from the Karen Jeppe Armenian College. Karen Jeppe was the Danish missionary who took care of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide.
Whereas it took two days for “terrorists” in Syria to acknowledge their crimes and present an official apology to the Syrian-Armenian community, the Turkish government continues to pursue a policy of denial almost 100 years after the Armenian Genocide. If “terrorists” acknowledge their own crimes, then what does that say about the Turkish government?

No comments:

Post a Comment