The pictures from Al Houla, Syria, last Friday are almost too brutal to look at. I have a 5 year old daughter and I know it's only luck of birth that separates her from this horror. But my shock led me to write this today as I know there is something we can all do together to stop this.
Dozens of children lie covered with blood, their faces show the fear they felt before death, and their innocent lifeless bodies reveal an unspeakable massacre. These children were slaughtered by men under strict orders to sow terror. Yet all the diplomats have come up with so far is a few UN monitors 'observing' the violence. Now, governments across the world are expelling Syrian ambassadors, but unless we demand strong action on the ground, they will settle for these diplomatic half-measures.
The UN is discussing what to do right now. If there were a large international presence across Syria with a mandate to protect civilians, we could prevent the worst massacres while leaders engage in political efforts to resolve the conflict. I cannot see more images like these without shouting from the rooftops. But to stop the violence, it is going to take all of us, with one voice, demanding protection for these kids and their families. Click to call for UN action now and send this to everyone:
A child's death is tragic in any circumstance. The UN says 108 people were killed in the onslaught, 49 of them children under the age of 10, and the youngest was a 2 year old girl. 90% of the population of Al Houla has now fled their homes. As I put my daughter to bed last night, I tried to consider what the mothers and fathers and grandparents of these children feel. The sheer pain and desperation is unimaginable, but there will also be deep anger and hate for those that did this. Until all of us stop these attacks on the people of Syria, the cycle of violence will not end.
Let's not forget -- this bloodbath began over a year ago with thousands of people peacefully protesting on the streets -- calling, like their brothers and sisters across the region, for freedom and democracy. But the regime responded with brutality and violence -- murdering, torturing, abducting and laying siege to entire cities. The international community did not intervene, letting geopolitical concerns obstruct our responsibility to protect. Then, in desperation to protect their families and fight back against the repression, some took up arms. Now it is an armed conflict -- and if the world continues to do nothing it will become a full blown sectarian war that may last for generations and breed the kind of terrorist attacks we have yet to imagine in our worst nightmares.
When dozens of children are murdered in cold blood by the army and their militias -- it is time for serious action. Assad, his henchmen and his murderous army must be held to account and the people of Syria protected. Nothing the international community has done yet has pried Assad from his murderous grip on power. The few UN monitors on the ground were powerless to stop the Al Houla killings -- they only served to count the tiny bodies. But if we sent in hundreds of monitors to each of the fourteen regions of Syria, Assad's assassins would think twice.
The world looked away with Srebrenica, and with Rwanda. If all of us respond today -- we can make sure that these children's tragic deaths act as the tipping point for all of us everywhere to say NO MORE! But if we turn away, so will our leaders. Let's join voices from every corner of the earth and make it impossible for our leaders to ignore our cry. In respect for these dear children and their families, click to join the global call to demand a massive UN presence on the ground now!
The Avaaz community has stood with the people of Syria for fifteen months, denouncing the Syrian regime, calling for sanctions, supporting communities across the country with aid, and giving equipment to citizen journalists to get the word out about the violence. Let's today make the Al Houla massacre the watershed moment for change and insist that our governments no longer stand by shaking their heads and turning their backs.
With deep sadness and determination,
Alice and the whole Avaaz team
Annan: 'Bold steps' needed for Syria peace (Al Jazeera)
UN envoy 'horrified' by Syria massacre, 108 dead (AP)
Fresh violence in Syria despite Annan warning (BBC)
Exclusive dispatch: Assad blamed for massacre of the innocents (The Independent)
Syrian Ambassadors expelled (The Guardian)