Today marks the thirty-second anniversary of the Hama Massacre, which began on 2/2/1982 and lasted for 27 days, and in which approximately 30,000 were killed in addition to 15,000 that disappeared and have not been found since. Approximately 100,000 residents left the city after a third of the districts were completely destroyed, and other districts suffered wide-scale destruction. Tens of mosques and churches were wiped out, as well as old historic areas, due to tank shelling.
Forces of the Syrian army lead by the Defence Brigades which was chaired by Rifa’at al-Asad, the brother of the previous President Hafiz al-Asad, surrounded the city and bombed it before raiding it and committing massacres in almost every district, in addition to arresting a large number of residents.
At the time, the massacre witnessed a full media black-out due to the city being cut off from all forms of communication. Nobody was allowed to enter or exit the city. Due to this, no news of the massacre or images reached the outside the world, except very few.
In addition to the media blackout imposed during the massacre, international and local groups were unable to collect all names of victims or record the violations which had taken place. This was due to the fact that the years following the massacre were among the most harsh and brutal in the history of Syria.
The Hama Massacre represents the height of oppression which took place during the “years of blood” which stretched from the late seventies till the end of Hafiz al-Assad’s era in 2000. This model has also been represented by his son in his dealing with popular movements which began in March 2011 and which have continued till today.
The International Community has helped the culprits of the Hama Massacre to escape justice all these years, and has in face offered them security and helped them to move around Europe freely.
The Hama Massacre is a similar crime to other massacres and dangerous human rights violations: it cannot be dropped due to the passing of time nor can its criminals be allowed to escape punishment. It is incumbent upon the international community to work very hard in order to establish a system of human rights in Syria, and especially due to the impact on the region as a whole, instead of focusing its efforts on finding safe outlets for criminals and preventing them from justice.
Syrian Human Rights Committee