Last weekend, the Syrian government killed over 100 civilians, more than 40 of whom were children, according to reports -- but the news of an 11-year-old boy who survived the massacre by smearing his murdered brother's blood over his face to pretend he was dead is perhaps one of the most chilling details to come out. The boy's entire family was slaughtered in front of him. Syrian activists said the victims were army defectors killed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Reuters reports that the killings were execution style -- in the head and at close range.
According to The Takeaway's John Hockenberry, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan met with Assad and said, "We are at a tipping point. [The Syrian people do not want] their future to be one of bloodshed and division."
Though protest from the international community has grown since Syrian civilians began non-violent protests for political change 15 months ago (over 10,000 have died since the initial uprisings, according to The Washington Post), we've only begun to hear from parents. From mothers and fathers. Families. Though these courageous mothers recently stepped up to protest targeting al-Assad's wife, it's clearly not enough. When Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel asked, "How could Assad still be in power?" during a Holocaust Museum event in April, President Obama, who was in attendance, said: "We cannot control every event."
This doesn't mean Obama is putting Syria on the back burner, says New Yorker staff writer Philip Gourevitch:
He announced new sanctions as well as "a legal effort to document atrocities so killers face justice, and a humanitarian effort to get relief and medicine to the Syrian people."
He noted that he is the first President to have declared that "preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national-security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States." That's why we flew against Muammar Qaddafi, in Libya, he said; and why American Special Forces are in Uganda to help hunt down the child-abducting warlord Joseph Kony.
This is all well and good, and of course it's more than well and good, but it says nothing to the helpless children who are forced to not only watch these incredible atrocities, but who are subjected to them as well.
The first tenet of parenting -- outside of emotional support, nurturing and education -- is to protect our children. To simply keep them alive. I cannot imagine as a parent how agonizing this must be for the parents of Syria who are unable to protect their children. Can you imagine this? Unable to protect your child?
I'm not sure if Kofi Annan is suggesting that this "tipping point" means that we or other countries should intervene -- not that he has this power or authority. Even Hockenberry suggested that Annan's quote was more of a "plea for humanity."
But humanity only spared children temporarily in the past. We all know the story of Anne Frank, arguably the Holocaust's most famous child. In the end, the Nazi's murdered her. Isn't that the same situation we're talking about with Syrian children? But this time, we have photos to prove it.