Double standards

Smoke rises behind damaged buildings in the besieged area of Homs March 9, 2014. Picture taken March 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Yazan Homsy)

News items about the horrors in Syria have become so commonplace that many people are tuning out, as they prefer to focus on less distressing developments elsewhere. But for those who still follow the tragedy, there is no shortage of news, and nearly all of it is bad.

On a daily or weekly basis, credible international bodies are documenting the thousands, or tens of thousands, of human rights violations that have taken place in Syria, and these institutions often spread the blame among the various sides to the conflict.

Massacres, random shelling and airstrikes, blockades of civilian areas, arbitrary arrests, torture, the dropping of barrel bombs, kidnapping – the documented list of violations and atrocities is growing by the day.

However, the international community has yet to act in any forceful way to stop the carnage; not a single international agency, or combination of influential countries, has been able to produce any kind of deterrent so that the Syrian regime and the other human rights violators stop their oppressive actions.

In contrast, the imprisonment, torture or killing of a single prominent dissident in a given country, other than Syria, can sometimes move mountains. Western and other leaders might be prepared to exert huge amounts of pressure to secure the release of an unfortunate individual or two elsewhere, but not in Syria.

The scale of the horrors is becoming clearer with each damning report that is issued, while the lack of international action deserves its own, special report.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 11, 2014, on page 7.




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