Letter From Syria

Dear friends, writers, and journalists across the world, especially those in China and Russia, I am writing to inform you that my people are being subjected to genocide.

A week ago, the forces of the Syrian regime stepped up their attacks on rebel towns, specifically Homs, Zabadani, the suburbs of Damascus, Rastan, Madaya, Wadi Barada, Figeh, Idlib, and the villages of Jabal al-Zawiya. For the past week and up to the moment I am writing these lines, more than a thousand martyrs have fallen, many of them children, and hundreds of houses have been destroyed over the very heads of their inhabitants.

The blindness that has stricken the world has encouraged the regime's attempt to eliminate the peaceful Syrian revolution with a repressive force that is unrivaled. The aid of Russia, China, and Iran and the silence of the world before these crimes committed in broad daylight have permitted the regime to murder my people for the past eleven months. But in the last week, from February 2 until now, the signs of the massacre have become clearer. The scene of hundreds of thousands of Syrians in the streets of their towns and villages on the night of the Khalidiya massacre, last Friday night into Saturday morning, their hands raised in prayer and in tears, breaks the heart and places Syria's humanitarian tragedy in the center of the public eye. It is a clear expression of our feeling of being orphaned, abandoned by the world and its politicians satisfied by their vain words and their economic sanctions, which do not stop the assassins and do not hold back the blood-bathed tanks.

My people, who have faced death bare-chested and singing, are at this very moment being subjected to a campaign of genocide. Our rebel towns face sieges unprecedented in the history of world revolutions. Medical personnel are prevented from aiding the wounded, and field hospitals are bombed in cold blood and destroyed. The entry of relief organizations in prevented, telephone lines are cut, and food and medicine are blocked so well that smuggling a bag of blood or a tablet of Setamol into the affected zones is considered a crime worthy of imprisonment in the detention camps, the details of which will one day horrify you.

In all its modern history, the world has not known such courage as that manifested by the Syrian revolutionaries in our towns and villages. Neither has the world known such silence, now considered complicity in the extermination of my people.

My people are a people of peace, of coffee and music I hope you will one day savor, of roses whose perfume I hope will one day reach your nostrils, so that you will understand that it is this heart of the world that is today exposed to genocide, and the entire world is an accomplice to the spilling of our blood.

I can say nothing more in these difficult times, but I hope that you will act in solidarity with my people through whatever means you judge appropriate. I know that writing is powerless and naked before the cannons, the tanks, and the Russian missiles that are bombing our towns and our civilians, but I have no desire for your silence, either, to be an accomplice to the murder of my people.

~ Khaled Khalifa from Damascus

Translated by Addie Leak.