I was reading the official report of Save The Child Foundation; UNTOLD ATROCITIES, THE STORY OF SYRIAN CHILDREN. It is troubling to know what has been happening to Children in times of war. It is not enough that the children of such worlds are already burdened by poverty, hunger and disease; they are now being subjected to the harshest of the horrors of war. There used to be a time when children were the crown jewel of the society; diamond absolutes. A child was the cognizable mark of the innocence of mankind at heart. Human beings have since then fallen short of grace, children are as an old grandma told me in a matatu the other day, ‘tuvitu twa kuwekwa kwa nyumba’; mere household objects that can be owned.
The Official reports from the Syrian Center for Policy Research paints a very grim picture of Syria, since the war begun in March 2011, 250,000 people have lost their lives and of this 14,711 are children. Syria is a country in ruins; its air is fouled by the overpowering stink of blood, decaying flesh, smoke, diesel fuel; that is the smell of war, the kind of smell that is so thick that you can almost cut it with a knife.
It is said that a soldiers duty is not to reason why, it is to do or die but the story of Syrian children talks of more than just doing. It marks the deepest in men’s evil nature. Here are some of the accounts of children who were tortured by forces as accounted for by Protect The Child Foundation.
Muntha, 10 years old.
I was on the street when the bullets were first fired. We were standing outside a school
, we’d just posed for a photo. There were lots of children around.
Then the shooting started. There was chaos, everyone was screaming. There were bullets and blood everywhere. A boy called Amjad was standing next to me. He was shot in the head. I didn’t realize at first that he was dead. He fell forward on his knees, in a praying position. He was 15. Then I felt a terrible pain. I’d been shot too – in my neck. Here, see my scars [Munther has two bullet-sized wounds on his neck, one in the front and to one side of his neck, the other in the back of his neck]. Luckily I was with my friend’s mother. She picked me up and took me straight to a clinic to get help. I recovered from the shooting. We held a funeral for Amjad. Lots of people came. We made a statue of Amjad and put his own school uniform on it. Then we carried the statue through the streets. I was so sad that day.
My biggest problem now is that I’ve been out of school for a whole year – and I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back to school. I want to become a doctor, but I know can’t do that without a good education.
I just don’t know what’ll happen to us.
I was walking home in Karak, Dera’a. I came behind two armed men and overheard them taking bets on something. They were planning to use something for target practice.
When they then agreed the bets I realized they were talking about an eight-year-old boy who was playing alone on the road. I realized too late – one of them had taken the bet and shot him in the head. Everyone ran and the street was deserted.
The child was lying on the street, I couldn’t move. It wasn’t a clean shot and he didn’t die straight away. It took hours. His mother was inside the house on the same street and she was screaming. She wanted to reach her child, but the men kept firing into the street and taunting this mother: “you can’t get to your child, you can’t get to your child.”
He died alone on the street outside his home.
Great men take life as God made it and this is not how God designed life. The entire document has testimonies of more than 13 children, a tiny fraction of the innocent children that bear the same narrative of children being tortured, killed, raped, nails plucked off… If children are not being shot at by crazy religious fanatics their roofs are being blown off by incompetent soldiers. The end cannot afford to be justified by the means. It is recognized that a price has to be paid for change, but that price should never fall on women and children.
I wonder what the current generation is leaving for the future generations, why can’t the world just get over cave men behaviors that fuel hate and war? This world has many dynamics which are hard to understand and for the sake of peace, systems of power have to curve their destinies by themselves. Systems cannot be imposed on nations that have taken decades to lay their foundations. This is why post the Arab apprising Arab nations have fallen to chaos and in the space of transition, terrorism has erupted and it now plagues the whole world.
From a pure humanitarian perspective, I wonder why the world maintains Economic sanctions on countries like Zimbabwe. We all agree that the guy went crazy and is not fit to run a country, but think about it. Economic Sanctions only hurt the very poor. The rich have connections all over the world, they barely feel the pinch. Sanctions only hurt innocent women and children.
The world should not fall to the human weakness of fighting as the solution to provocations; we should not be torn apart by cultural, political, ideological or even religious differences. I am a Christian and I believe that God has his special design of different religions but men have perfected the art of institutionalization. In this light, I don’t care what your faith professes, so long as you speak the language of peace, love and unity, we are brothers and sisters of the same faith; who is man to judge what religion is right?
~ Antony Mwangi.