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Death Sings A Lullaby

Children in Syria do not hear fairytales about talking rabbits and ponies before bedtime. These days they only hear the stories of death and torture.

Children in Syria cannot scream for their parents at night to come and banish the monsters under their beds and in their closets, because their parents probably will not be around. No one can come and protect these children from the monsters coming after them.

Instead of spending their summer in scout camps, children in Syria spent the summer in prison or in refugee camp. No fairytales are told anymore here in this land, no magic unicorns can carry these children away from the horror they face.

In Syria playgrounds have turned into graveyards.

"How can I stay strong for the people when I see all the atrocities around me? My feet cannot hold my weight when I bury these children everyday." The voice of Hadi Al Abdulla filled the air, followed with heavy silence during which one can almost hear the screams of the children of Syria, echoing across the world.

Hadi is an activist living in one of the most troubled areas in Syria, the city of Homs. Hadi said that most children in Homs are now orphans, severely injured, or have been killed. He described an entire family stabbed to death, including five children; one with special needs, and one, a toddler, found holding onto his mother's hair. Hadi talked about a toddler girl, called Afaf, who was detained with her parents, and later found, dead in the street near the house of her relatives, her helpless, fragile body covered with bruises and marks of electric shocks.

UNICEF has announced that at least 384 children have been killed in Syria and at least 380 have been detained, some of whom are less than 14 years old. Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled: Syria: Stop Torture of Children, saying that it documented the torture, in prisons, of at least 12 children. HRW has gathered testimonies from the children of Syrian refugees that security forces raided their schools and arrested their friends during classes.

Syrian authorities claim that unknown armed gangs financed by unknown sources are coming from unknown places and killing the civilians and children in Syria. But the Human Rights Watch report says that “Children, some as young as 13, reported to Human Rights Watch that officers kept them in solitary confinement, severely beat and electrocuted them, burned them with cigarettes, and left them to dangle from metal handcuffs for hours at a time, centimeters above the floor”. No child talked about armed gangs.

Many families of tortured and murdered children remain silent out of fear for the rest of their children, but a number of families have gone to the media after escaping from Syria. One father told the horrific details of what had happened to his 13 year-old boy in detention. His son, Thamer, was arrested for a couple of weeks and returned lifeless, carrying the marks of electric shocks, broken bones and wounds from a drill used on his face and body.

Humanity must accept the enormous responsibility of protecting these children. One action that must be taken is to send a letter to the Russian and Chinese embassies in your country, urging the Russian government to stop sending weapons to the Syrian regime, and urging Chinese government to stop its diplomatic support. You can find the address on the embassies’ websites in your country. Of course social media is a vital tool to urge the world into action, and tell everyone you know. You can organize a silent rally in your city and light a candle for people's souls. Only together can we save the children of Syria.

And tonight, before you sleep, close your eyes and sing for children in Syria: Hush now baby don't you cry, rest your wings my butterfly, peace will come to you in time.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

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Stella Paul's picture

My heart cries

Dear Hummingbird

You won't believe this, but I am following the Syrian troops and the govt action very closely. I follow their media advisories which I am subscribed to. Everyday I see the bunch of lies, about how they have killed 'scores' of terrorists. Then I read govt-released press advisories from China and Russia and I see how real terrorism is being supported by a part of the world community. After reading your post, I am very tempted to send this to the press officers who send me their side of the stories!

Syria is killing its own future, its own hope. I only join you in your cries for justice and protection of that future generation. Love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Hummingbird's picture

Your care awakes hope

Stella, people like you encourage us to hold on. We do still have faith in humanity. Outrageously, two major powers are supporting the mob in Syria claiming that terrorists are doing this and that, but the only terrorists are the mobs sent by Iran to help governmental militias kill the civilians. I remember what happened in places like Rwanda and Kosovo, the international community has no interests in these places and only intervened after hundreds of thousands of people were killed, I pray we do not go through something similar.

A drop of rain can revive the earth, be the drop.

Hummingbird

mirette's picture

Dear Humming bird, I share

Dear Humming bird,

I share with you my prayers for all the innocent souls that are killed every hour in Syria and the whole Middle East. It's heartbreaking to see our children and youth killed brutally by a corrupt regime, and for what??

My question is why do they target children specifically? are they using it as a tool to pressure the parents? This is so merciless. May Justice and Mercy prevail soon!

mirette's picture

Dear Humming bird, I share

Dear Humming bird,

I share with you my prayers for all the innocent souls that are killed every hour in Syria and the whole Middle East. It's heartbreaking to see our children and youth killed brutally by a corrupt regime, and for what??

My question is why do they target children specifically? are they using it as a tool to pressure the parents? This is so merciless. May Justice and Mercy prevail soon!

Hummingbird's picture

Thank you

To answer your question, the regime thinks that by doing atrocities it will scare people and prevent them from protesting or calling for their rights. It is a message to people that this what will happen to you and your children if you dare to oppose us.

How sick is that!

Thank you for your support dear

A drop of rain can revive the earth, be the drop.

Hummingbird

noreens's picture

What a sad story. The worst

What a sad story. The worst thing is to see the kids suffer. We have plenty of that around here too. I wish we can protect them all. You did a nice job on the op-ed!

Love,
Noreen

I weep reading your final line.

Naturally grateful,
Kat Haber

"Know thyself." ~ Plato

Karoline's picture

Beautifully written . . .

Thank you for sharing this story - you have taken that simple night time ritual that children in many parts of the world take for granted and shown just one effect of war and conflict on children. Your writing is also a call to action for all of us.

Jan K Askin's picture

Rest you Wings

Dear Hummingbird,

After reading your eloquent op-ed, the least that I can do is sing the lovely nighttime lullaby with which you close. Honestly, it defies our sense of humanity as well as common sense, that the world's superpowers (including my own, the US) cannot/does not rise up in protest. I have spent a career nurturing young children in the filed of education. It breaks my heart that there are so many children who do not even have the comfort of the safe haven in their own home.

Articles and activism such as your is what forestalls total pessimism. Thank you.

Your Sister,

Jan

Jan Askin

Rahel Weldeab's picture

To be perfectly honest with

To be perfectly honest with you, I have a really hard time believing this OpEd. You make some pretty tough accusations, but none of the testimonials have any dates. Automatically, people would assume that you are talking about very recent times, especially with the situation in Syria being headline news among all international media channels. But when did UNICEF make that announcement that 384 children have been killed? How recent is it? Does it have to do what's going on today in Syria, or has these instances taken place over the last year or two?

I was also confused with the geographic coverage of your article. You mentioned Homs, and yet your accusations suggests that really all children of Syria are being imprisoned and abused. Are these atrocities happening in all of the cities/regions of Syria? Of course, just one such act of a child is enough to protest, and it doesn't matter where they live. Still, I would like to know if such instances have geographic connotations (i.e. like the situation in Northern Uganda with the kidnapping of children to become child soldiers).

I also couldn't come to grip with why the government would do this to children. I've heard of similar stories when it comes to groups trying to recruit child soldiers and also when it comes to inhumane treatment of juvenile delinquents, but never at children in such a random matter. What is the real motive behind these atrocities? I just don't buy the explanation that the Syrian government would do such things to warn families to not go against them. I have a very hard time believing that that is true.

Hummingbird's picture

World headlines

Dear, these are not accusations, these are facts. And I believe as a member in the 2012 VOF you know that an op-ed is timely, is should be written on something is happening now, it is also a small piece of writing so I cannot just include everything, I believe the article will urge readers to know more and do something about it. Anyway, to answer your question the UNICEF announcement and Human Rights Watch report were issued a couple of weeks ago. If you want to know more, here is the report of HRW issued in the 3rd of February 2012:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/02/03/syria-stop-torture-children

If you also want to know more about what is going on, you can watch these videos by CNN:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7Ilo1Q8Elg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INaUVDLCNE8

You can also read the UN General Assembly report during a session held a couple of days ago regarding Syria. Tomorrow UN General Assembly will vote regarding Syria.

I mentioned one city as an example of what is going on in the entire country. And as for why the government is doing this, well every tyrant in history has his own criminal style. I think we should ask why did Idi Amin killed about 500,000 Acholi and Lango soldiers, according to Amnesty International.

A drop of rain can revive the earth, be the drop.

Hummingbird

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Great piece

This is a great op-ed Hummingbird, and a story that needs to be told. Giving these additional resources for Rahel and our general community to read to back up your pieces is perfect.

Obviously this is a very sensitive subject to discuss. For those of us who are not trying to hold on to power at any costs, it is difficult to understand why anyone would ever submit children to this sort of violence. But it is just as hard to comprehend that around the world, rape would be used as a tool of war to intimidate, break and subjugate people and families--but it doesn't mean it isn't happening. Reason has nothing to do with it.

Someone has to be brave enough to break the silence, and I commend you for doing so.

Sincerely,
Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Your Magnificent Truths

Dear Hummingbird,

Your strength and courage are a model for us all. Despite your own pain, sorrow and relentless, exhausting concern for the beloved people of your country, you are continuing to speak up and speak out, and always in a voice that will make a positive difference.

I, too, wept over the children described in your article, and because of you I am spreading the word to all those I respect to stand up and shout for the children of Syria. The atrocities endured by these children are beyond even the scope of my own imagination and keep me, too, awake at night . . . but we MUST be told these truths. Otherwise, the children will not be saved, and so many are already gone.

The grotesque injustice of it must be spoken aloud, and you are a crucial voice for change. No matter how ineffectual you may feel, every time you speak up you make a positive difference, even if you never witness it or know about it.

It only takes one drop of rain to keep a Hummingbird hydrated, and You are the drop!

With love, respect and support,

Sarah

Your presence in my life, and in the lives of all those who know you, is a blessing.

You have my enormous respect, my support, my friendship and my love.

Debra Engle's picture

Well done

Dear Hummingbird,

You've written this with great sensitivity. It's very difficult to write about a subject that no one wants to believe, particularly when it's about children. But I think you've done it in a way that stirs emotions, provides facts and moves people to action.

I especially appreciate your suggestions for readers, detailing the steps they can take to help the children of Syria. I hope this is picked up by media online so that more people will take those steps. You've written a piece that can truly help make a difference.

Sincerely,

Deb Engle

emilybrews's picture

Dear Hummingbird, What a

Dear Hummingbird,

What a wonderful and brave piece this is. I'm so proud of you for standing up for your people and your country in this way. It is horrific that anyone, and particularly the representatives of nations, would turn a blind eye to the cruelties taking place, and what we all need is strong voices like yours to guide us in the actions we can take to try and bring justice to Syria's women, men and especially children.

With love,

Emily

Jensine's picture

Stunning

Dearest Hummingbird -
What a stunning and emotional piece. This is a powerful cry to the world. Well done. You have successfully taken a horrific story, and tied it to the heartstrings of the reader in a vivid and detailed way with strong facts to back it up.
Excellent and I am eager to read more and more from you.

Jensine Larsen
World Pulse

Greengirl's picture

Dear Hummingbird

Hours earlier, I had been lamenting about the sit tight attitude of the Syrian Government, as I watched a footage of happenings in Syria on Aljazeera News. It just isn't acceptable that a handful of people would choose to enforce their unwelcome leadership style on a vast majority who are seemingly helpless. Little did I know that I would be reading your piece hours later. The details you shared are gory and mind boggling, even worse than what I watched on the news.

What moral justification can be adduced for the unjustifiable killing of innocent children or their parents? Why would anyone insist on staying in Power even when the vast majority rejects such a person? How could any sane person cling to power at the expense of the lives of the very people he presides over?

The pain of those tortured and the blood of those murdered will not rest until peace returns and justice prevails.

May peaceful resolution of the crisis become a reality within the shortest possible time.

Hugs,

Olanike

JamesBurgman's picture

I havent heard situation like

I havent heard situation like this. I admit this rare and lullaby is really a relaxing song. Maybe he chooses this to send his message about having a peaceful end.

Atty. James S. Burgman
http://www.themiamiduiattorneys.com/

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