For the past few days I have been trying to pursue my annual ritual of reviewing life in the past year and writing down goals for 2013. But I have failed doing so, having read the latest news on the death toll in Syria’s civil war. According to the United Nations Commission for Human Rights, the total death toll has risen to more than 60,000 since the conflict began in March 2011.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay was quoted as saying, "The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking."
What started out as peaceful protests seeking political change, the conflict has become a full-blown civil war because of the adamant behaviour of President Bashar Assad who continues to cling on to power. He reacted with iron-fist hostility using the full-might of the military to quell the rebellion without regard to the growing number of civilian deaths.
The major power players in world politics cannot make up their minds; thus Assad remains focused in his armed campaign to overcome the growing number of opposition who now have obtained support in arms and ammunition compliments of countries who believe in their cause.
The United States and a good number of European and Arab nations have sought Assad’s resignation, while Russia, China and Iran maintain that the conflict is internal and should not have intervention from outsiders.
Why should not countries intervene? Why should we be concerned? When a leader turns the gun on the people that he has sworn to serve, then something is very wrong. I have always seen Ferdinand Marcos in bad light because of the institutional corruption, the human rights abuses and the curtailment of freedoms but there was some good in the man, and that is, he prevented bloodshed in EDSA where nearly a million gathered to seek his ouster. The United States had a part in that peaceful transition of power.
But in these times, the US no longer holds as much clout as it used to have. Russia and more particularly China have balanced the world’s most powerful country in terms of weaponry and infantry.
What can we do? As sure as the sun will rise, Assad will continue to murder his people to keep himself in power. Now that the ‘fiscal cliff’ was put to a stop in the US, President Barack Obama must use his Inaugural Speech to tell Assad that his time is nearly up. If Obama does that – then he will not only prevent more bloodshed, but he will place the US in a higher moral ground and earn goodwill among many nations in the world. Russia and China will realize that they must heed the call from nearly all nations in the world for an end to senseless killings day after day.
Pope Benedict XVI, during the traditional Christmas mass called for an end in the conflict. “I once again appeal to end the bloodshed, to provide refugees access to care and to open a dialogue in search of a political solution to the conflict…there is hope even in the most difficult of times and in the most difficult situations”. He prayed that “peace may return to the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by the conflict, which does not spare even the defenseless”.
All nations must unite under the flag of the United Nations. We must never allow leaders to get away with mass murder. Not in the past, not today, not in the future.