18/11/2011

To witness the revolt in Syria, a dangerous action for NGOs

The Arab League plan to end the crisis that recently failed was asking above all the end of the massacres in Syria by the Alawite regime. The organization Human Rights Watch alerted in a report in mid-November on the atrocities committed throughout the country, including Homs, the seat of the rebellion. It put the death toll to nearly 600 from mid April to late August, and as many as 200 in September. The NGO was able to do a hundred interviews from a distance and is talking of crimes against humanity. In its report, HRW also referred to thousands of cases of torture, facts usually seen in the development of asymmetrical conflicts, and this on both sides of the belligerents. HRW as a number of Syrian NGOs lobbied the Arab League to push it to punish the regime, and this to compensate the inaction of the international community. As for Amnesty International, it published news release and videos of violences to raise awareness.

But how to testimony when you cannot be in the place or when it is impossible to work properly ? It is often thanks to « syrian refugees who arrive in Lebanon and Jordan » that they can gather information by staying outside the country, stated Nadim Houry from Human Rights Watch, based in Lebanon since the crisis. Considering Syrian NGOs which information is usually relayed by the National Observatory of Syrian Human Rights based in London and directed by Rami Abdul Rahman*, they are the only ones to show the number of deaths, and to daily gather the numbers of the missing ones. In an article published on August 19 in Le Figaro, we learned about « Strategies of NGOs against censorship ». Actually, organizations have been created in a pragmatic ways to circumvent the prohibitions coming from Damascus. A whole bunch of local committees of information, and of facilitators of Facebook pages appeared to show violence of the repression in real-time. Internet plays a significant role as in many revolts in the Arab world so far: testimonials, photos are exchanged on the Internet by email, Skype, mobile phone, or directly through social networks.

The way to transmit information is worthy of an arsenal of war orchestrated in a hurry but effective. The information is encrypted, the lines protected by large international NGOs that collect information from abroad and can cross information. Those techniques are primarily meant to protect sources, but also to continue to talk about the daily tragedy Bashar Al Assad is imposing to his people. It is also to protect and collect materials for the history that the international community will one day maybe be able to use to judge the principal dignitaries of the Alawite regime for the committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Sébastien Boussois

 

* Contested by some who accused him to serve the Muslim brothers and inflate the numbers, it is considered by some as AFP or Le Monde as credible.