While our news is dominated by a porn star’s escapades with the President of the United States, the women of Ghouta get barely a mention. Our sin is the sin of inattention to what matters, and gluttony for the grotesque.
Last night was a night from hell in besieged Ghouta with massacres unfolding and the skies lit up by the shower of weaponry landing on civilians.
Doctors treated people injured by Napalm, barrel bombs, and missile strikes, as well as a chlorine gas chemical attack. The White Helmets struggled to reach people injured or trapped in the rubble because the destruction and craters from airstrikes were making it hard to move. Dozens were killed and even more were injured.
This International Women’s Day, our sisters in Ghouta, along with hundreds of thousands of civilians besieged inside, are at the mercy of the depravity of the Syrian regime and Russia.
Today and throughout the past weeks, women from Ghouta have been reporting from the ground – writings that should go straight into the history books.
Nivin Hotary wrote from Ghouta this morning:
“This could be my last post. The catastrophic situation is now well-known to all… we have said all we could say. A criminal regime that kills its own people with the approval and support and sponsorship of other countries. Yesterday was an indescribable day. Chlorine and cluster bombs, barrel bombs, and rocket shells. They tried everything to bury us alive in the basements. No words left for us to say and no conscience or humanity left in those remaining silent and allowing this to happen. The last thing I want to say to all people everywhere: our regime is murderous and won’t escape justice. But your governments are more murderous than the regime. They are watching and remaining quiet, acquiescing. And those who accuse us of being terrorists, Islamists and more to relieve their conscience… The Syrian regime might kill us all – how would you ever make peace with that? I salute all women of the world on International Women’s Day, and I extend my condolences to our women for such a shameful world. 8/3/2018 Day 18 in the basements #Ghouta”
To stand in solidarity with our sisters right now in Ghouta –
1) Share Nivin’s words. Copy and paste Nivin’s message above to your Facebook page and forward this email to your friends and family.
2) Share these writings from Syrian women about women in Ghouta
Lina Sergie Attar writing about Nivin Hotary, “the real-life Scheherazade of the siege”
Muzna Dureid writing about Bayan Rehani, the head of the women’s office at the Local Council in Douma, Ghouta
3) At women’s marches, lift a banner in solidarity with the women of Ghouta
Please send a photo from the march to email@example.com so we can share it back into Ghouta.
4) Donate now to women’s initiatives in Ghouta
Faten, known as Um Samih, leads an organisation called “One Hand” where she cooks for those in need, driving her car across Ghouta to distribute the food. You can donate here to support Um Samih’s kitchen: https://www.youcaring.com/civiliansineasternghouta-1107715/
Women Now for Development run centres across Ghouta that empower women and girls. You can donate here: https://women-now.org/donate/
5) Share this album of portraits and profiles of the inspiring women in Ghouta.
At this stage it feels hard to know what to do to stop the killing in Ghouta. But we can bear witness and make sure that we give our ears and hearts to the brave and heroic people of Ghouta.
Photo by Mohammad Badra
“Gluttony for the grotesque.” Exactly
Dawn, I must report to you and your readers that there is a very different “other side of the Syrian story” to which I subscribe with vigor and the love I have felt for the land and people of Syria since my first encounter with them in 1964 (a somewhat tenuous encounter, I admit, by a then-21-year-old naif…but an encounter that has been strengthened and deepened over the course of the ensuing now-54 years).
I have read innumerable accounts of the perfidy to which Syria has been subjected by the colonial West (which, tellingly, includes Syria’s neighbor Israel, the illegal occupier of a significant portion of Syrian sovereign territory), most recently centering on 2011 and the US(rael) lust to accomplish “regime change” in Syria. Here, I’ll simply refer you and your readership to two narratives that explicate the “other side”: one by Professor Jeremy Salt, whose (infrequent) geopolitical analyses never fail to impress me; the other routed to me via a Europe-based woman e-correspondent whose acumen and humanity are always manifest and trusted by me:
https://alethonews.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/the-human-rights-war-on-syria/ [sourced from https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/syria-crisis/2166-human-rights-war.html ]
I haven’t tried this today or recently, but I also suggest that the investigative-journalistic truth-telling by these two women be googled or otherwise ferreted out: Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley. They are heroes of their profession.
Thanks for reading and commenting,Bob. I appreciate your sending alternative perspectives. Mine is this: I don’t know enough. I recognize the long murderous arms of superpower machinations,in the field of battle and the field of public opinion, and I recognize that the “truth” is complicated. But what remains incontestable is that innocent people are being slaughtered and we–the people outside–are fiddling while Ghouta and other places that are the pawns of warring factions, burns. I don’t know what the answer is, but I think it all starts with paying attention, but we are distracted by shiny objects. I am not sure you could walk down any street in this powerful country and have anyone tell you anything about what is going on in Syria. Nor would most people recognize names like Ghouta and Douma. But everyone will recognize the name Stormy Daniels. There is something deeply wrong with that.
I agree viscerally with you, Dawn. Adequate words fail — but it is always the innocent children, vulnerable women, and “good” men who suffer over and over again.