Syrian regime, what to do with your detainees?
We now understand what it means for a human to be a detainee of a regime: starvation, plucked out eyes and doom through the worst methods of torture
Q: What do you do with your detainees? What does the Syrian government do with its detainees?
A: (Long silence). Excuse me, I didn't understand the question.
Q: What do you do with your detainees? Do you starve them to the point of emaciation? Do you pluck their eyes out and then kill them?
A: We were trying to stop the terrorists and convince the world of the importance of an international presence to stop extremism.
There's no need to go through the rest of the interview the British Sky News conducted with Bouthaina Shaaban, the Syrian president's advisor. During the interview, journalist Ann Botting firmly asked Shaaban about the regime's acts and was not lenient regarding her attempts to evade answering.
Shaaban literally repeated the same statements during the several interviews she gave while participating in the Geneva talks on Syria. Her statements don’t answer the question.
All the murder and terror is the responsibility of the gunmen and terrorists, and the motive is a massive colonial conspiracy that aims to harm Syria, she claims.
She's the same Bouthaina Shaaban who weeks ago told us that the chemical Ghouta massacre was committed by the Syrian opposition and it was also the opposition who transferred men, women and children from Latakia's towns to the outskirts of Damascus to poison them with gas.
The Syrians, as citizens, media and public opinion, cannot ask their regime and its representatives questions like those asked to Bouthiana Shaaban. Media is forbidden in Syria unless the regime is satisfied with it. But what the Syrians couldn't do in their country, they did at Geneva.Diana Moukalled
There's no use to laugh or discuss this unproductive logic like this one. Let's go back to the question. What does the Syrian regime do with its detainees? Isn't this the substantial question which all facts revolve around for years now?
The answer used to be whispered to us as we frequently heard of faraway stories. Then we heard of them via narrated diaries and testimonies. After the revolution came many leaked footage and videos. We finally got the answer from more than 55,000 documents for 11,000 victims. Some documents were leaked by one of the jailors.
We then understood what it means for a human to be a detainee of a regime. Starvation, plucked out eyes and doom through the worst methods of torture, turning the victims into just another number buried far away without anyone's knowledge.
Freedom to face the regime
The Syrians, as citizens, media and public opinion, cannot ask their regime and its representatives questions like those asked to Bouthiana Shaaban. Media is forbidden in Syria unless the regime is satisfied with it. But what the Syrians couldn't do in their country, they did at Geneva.
They protested in front of the hotel where the Syrian delegation was staying, and they were not subject to security forces' gunfire or detention. They pursued the regime officials and held their microphones in front of them asking them about torture and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The Syrian information minister and the rest of the delegation members had no other choice other than to walk quickly and hide in their car to avoid questions asked. Regime supporters and some of its media thugs were there too and they attempted to do what they do best: beating up the regime opponents. Not only that, but they also mocked the shelling of some Syrian areas with explosive barrels.
Despite that, the Syrian regime delegation in Geneva was forced to confront questions, looks, criticisms, protests and cameras. In Geneva, they could not prevent the media from carrying out its job and could not prevent cameras from rolling. It could not arrest journalists or pluck their eyes out.
In Geneva, a confrontation between the Syrian regime and the Syrian media happened for the first time before the western media.It's in Geneva that the Syrian regime was subject to the pure public opinion for the first time. The regime seemed fragile and incapable of speaking. It appeared weak and unconvincing.
The regime fall in Geneva will pave way for its fall in Damascus.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Jan. 27, 2014.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.
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