Conspiracy of silence

Residents receive food aid distributed by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) at the besieged al-Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus January 30, 2014 in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA. (REUTERS/SANA)

The wrangling between Syrian regime and opposition delegations over “terror” and other topics in Geneva always risks overshadowing the urgent need to act on critically important humanitarian fronts.

While a limited amount of food aid finally made its way to the Yarmouk neighborhood south of Damascus on Thursday, it’s simply impossible to keep up with the horrific human rights violations that have accompanied the war in Syria.

Some diplomats and officials have been focusing their attention on relieving the siege on the city of Homs, but without result. To this can be added several other challenges – what to do in response the documented destruction of entire civilian neighborhoods, how to deal with allegations of systematic torture and disappearances in regime prisons, and ensuring that someone is eventually punished for last year’s chemical weapons attacks in areas near the capital Damascus.

In the wake of these damning allegations and reports, the public is left to hear meek statements and pleas by U.N. officials and representatives of the international community. These individuals express their hope that the Syrian regime will take steps to address these brutal acts, or they ask other countries to exercise pressure on the regime so that it will behave in a certain way.

If it hasn’t become clear by now, the world should know that the Syrian authorities believe they have done nothing wrong, because they are confronting an “international terrorist conspiracy.”

It might be easy to dismiss conspiracy theories, but there are grounds to believe that a conspiracy of silence and inaction has allowed all of these horrendous war crimes and human rights violations to pile up, with no punishment in sight.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 31, 2014, on page 7.




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