Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Victims still cry for justice 10 years after the Ghouta massacre

A sketch of the chemical massacre on August 21st, 2013; Credit: Marc Nelson

Ten years ago, the Assad regime committed a deliberate and horrifying massacre in Ghouta, in the countryside of Damascus, using chemical weapons that resulted in the deaths of approximately 1200 civilians including a large number of women and children. Additionally, a total of 5,935 people suffered from the ill effects of the illegally used sarin gas according to subsequent reports from the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).

on August 21, 2013 it was Syrian regime forces that launched rockets loaded with toxic gasses on several towns in the Eastern and Western Ghouta area in the Damascus countryside

Tragically, the Ghouta massacre was not the first instance where the regime used chemical weapons on Syrian civilians. Previous attacks began on December 23, 2012 with 217 chemical attacks occurring since then, the latest being on August 20, 2021. During these attacks, 1,510 people were killed according to documentation by SNHR, including 1,409 civilians, among them 205 children with a total of 11,080 individuals suffering the injurious effects of a variety of noxious gasses; in spite of the fact that the regime signed the chemical weapons treaty as part of an agreement brokered by Russia with the US in order to prevent itself from being subjected to repercussions following the fatal attack on Ghouta.

Since then, investigations by various international agencies have proven without a doubt that on August 21, 2013 it was Syrian regime forces that launched rockets loaded with toxic gasses on several towns in the Eastern and Western Ghouta area in the Damascus countryside. In their usual arrogant rebellion against international human rights norms, the  Assad regime conducted 33 of its chemical weapon attacks before UN Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013), followed by 184 attacks after Resolution 2209 (2015), and 59 attacks after Resolution 2235 (2015), which led to the establishment of an official mechanism to investigate chemical attacks in Syria.

The victims have not received justice, and a significant number of regime officials and officers directly involved in committing these massacres continue to perpetrate crimes and human rights violations against the Syrian people

Despite all these massacres and after-the-fact investigations which have confirmed the regime’s responsibility, none of the perpetrators have been arrested or tried. The victims have not received justice, and a significant number of regime officials and officers directly involved in committing these massacres continue to perpetrate crimes and human rights violations against the Syrian people.

In observance of the 10th anniversary of the Ghouta massacre, the Syrian Civil Defense,  aka The White Helmets,  launched a campaign titled “Do Not Suffocate the Truth.” A significant number of victims and survivors of the massacre engaged with the campaign by sharing their painful testimonies. Events were held in the cities of Azaz and Idlib, to which residents of northern Syria were invited and encouraged to join in commemorating the victims and emphasizing the importance of justice and accountability to help prevent the recurrence of these crimes against humanity.

after 10 years survivors continue to remind the international community of the atrocity of using sarin gas on defenseless civilians, calling for the Syrian regime to finally be held accountable

Displaced individuals in northern Syria have also created murals depicting the magnitude of the tragedy, illustrating how children and adults were killed with chemical substances while they slept. With these murals, the artists hope to express the cries of the victims’ souls awaiting justice.

A significant number of activists around the world have engaged in the commemoration of the massacre, and after 10 years survivors continue to remind the international community of the atrocity of using sarin gas on defenseless civilians, calling for the Syrian regime to finally be held accountable.

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