We, as concerned academics, legal, humanitarian and media professionals, condemn the Syrian government’s grotesque massacre in its aerial bombardment of a well-known and busy market in the Damascus suburb of Douma on Sunday 16 August 2015. As we write the killing continues.
We call on the UK government to condemn this act and to demand, as per UN resolutions, that the Syrian government immediately and unconditionally stop bombing its civilian population. The death toll has reached over 100 – among them women and children – with at least 200 injured and maimed by the bombings. The UN’s own humanitarian chief, Stephen O’Brien, was in Damascus pushing for more humanitarian access with the Syrian government just before these indiscriminate bombings took place.
Such utter contempt for international conventions by a so-called state actor reaffirms, if any further evidence were needed, that the Syrian government long ago relinquished any claim to legitimacy or sovereign power and should be expelled from the UN altogether. The UN must urgently consider carrying out its chronically underfunded humanitarian work in Syria without having to pander to Bashar al-Assad’s security forces via the ministry of the interior.
Assad’s killing machine has become the norm – and our silence makes us complicit in his crimes. The media has focused on the vile crimes of Isis, yet the overwhelming majority of Syrians continue to be killed and maimed by the Syrian government, which drops crude barrel bombs on the towns and cities that bravely rose up against tyranny and dared to demand their political rights in 2011.
Besieged Syrians in rebel-controlled Douma have continued to maintain their dignity, while the Syrian government wilfully ignored the unanimous UN Resolution 2139 (2014) adopted by the security council (and reaffirmed in the UNSC meeting on 18 August 2015) calling for unfettered humanitarian access to allow food and medical supplies to flow. Once again Syrians are reduced to picking up the mangled body parts of their children from the rubble. The international community has lost its moral compass and as a matter of principle for our humanity, not only for the Syrians who have been abandoned in this conflict, we must act to find it.
Dr Miriyam Aouragh Leverhulme fellow, Communication Media Research Institute, University of Westminster
Dr Sune Haugbolle Associate professor, global studies and sociology, Roskilde University
Dr Rupert Read Reader, School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies, University of East Anglia
Dr Joschka Ivanka Wessels Postdoctoral researcher, Copenhagen University
Dr Phil Hutchinson Senior lecturer, philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Sara Ababneh Researcher, Amman
Dr Anat Matar Philosophy department, Tel Aviv University
Dr Mandy Turner Director, Kenyon Institute, Jerusalem, and visiting fellow, Middle East Centre, London School of Economics
Bissane El-Sheikh Al-Hayat newspaper, Beirut
Laila Alodaat Crisis response programme manager, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Geneva
Malath Al-zoubi Media specialist, London
Maia Malas Television producer, London
Amr Salahi Syrian exile, London
Safaa Jousif Syria NGO worker, London
Ibrahim Fakhry Syrian activist, Oxford
Clara Connolly Human rights lawyer, London
Nora Ababneh Project director, Internews
Sai Englert Postgraduate representative, national executive council, National Union of Students
Reem Shafiq Doctoral counselling psychology trainee, researcher, London
Nick Evans PhD candidate, Wadham College, Oxford University
Juliette Harkin PhD candidate, School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies, University of East Anglia
Sonny Dubabuse Liverpool
David Phillips Brighton