Supporting the Syrian Revolution – The Case Against Neutrality.

Much has proliferated over the internet and social media sites regarding what is happening in Syria, and more specifically what is happening in the Palestinian refugee camp in Yarmouk. The disaster that has been unfolding in this country for over three years captured the lives of over 100,000 Syrians and displaced over 2 million. Caught in the fireline of the warring parties are the Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk. Already displaced (some more than once) and subjugated to circumstances that, by all moral standards, are considered abhorrent at best, the Palestinians there suffer from a severe humanitarian crisis characterized by deliberate starvation to extract unconditional subservience.

There is ample evidence uploaded to the internet by Syrian and Palestinian activists that demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that the crisis in the Yarmouk is the doing of the Syrian regime forces. Surely there is no doubt that there are some other forces that are viewed as being in opposition to Assad and his regime that have a vested interest in dragging the refugees into a struggle that they may or may not have any desire to be part of. However, the fact remains that ultimately, as the leader of regime that still wields a reasonable amount of control over the events in Syria, the primary responsibility to ensure that no civilians are put in harms way falls upon Assad’s shoulder.

This is a fundamental principle and a fact that should not be disputed. It is true that the Palestinians, despite their seemingly permanent residency in Syria, are considered as merely guests awaiting return to their dispossessed land; however, this does not change the fact that the government in power does have a responsibility to provide both protection and assistance to these refugees (or at least allow them to have access to such protection and assistance).

However, despite this fact, that I maintain as indisputable, there remains a significant number of Palestinian activists who continue wear the hijab of neutrality. They present unintelligible arguments that unreservedly removes them from being active stakeholders in a conflict that bears direct implications upon the lives and livelihoods of the Yarmoukian Palestinians. They, without any consultation with the denizens of Yarmouk, have accorded themselves the moral agency to make political and public moral determinations, and absolved Assad and his regime from any guilt attributed to him as a result of his heinous treatment of the Palestinians – as though Assad and his associates need self-proclaimed activists to apologize on his behalf and justify the validity of his continuous presence on this throne of dictatorship and ugly subjugatory policies.

It is not enough to demonstrate solidarity with Yarmouk and its denizens. Complementing such support must be an active support for the Syrians and their revolution – a revolution that they instigated with the sole purpose of enhancing their lives and livelihoods, whether through reforms or an outright resignation of the current government, its leader and its ruling party. There should be no doubt that such a task or a mission must be handled with unconditional respect for it represents the desires of a population that has been presented with the ugliest forms of subjugation, humiliation, active and arbitrary detention, torture and outright murder en masse. There should also be no doubt that, given the current situation in Syria, Assad and his associates must leave. They must leave and allow Syria to go through their long-awaited upheaval and social change. They must leave and allow the Palestinians retain whatever dignity they have left after 65 years of complete alienation and political stigmatization.

Omar Chaaban

is a Palestinian activist based in Vancouver, BC. He holds a BA in International Relations from the University of British Columbia and focuses on Syria and Palestine. Omar blogs here and tweets here.

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