Friday, September 11, 2015

Getting Familiar With Syria

Without the Daily Show with Jon Stewart I've been feeling a little bit lost in terms of International news. It says a lot of me that I rely on a comedy channel for news though, to my credit, I do tend to use it as a launching board i.e. I go and read up on the events portrayed on the show that pique my interest.

So when I saw a photo pop up on social media of a kid lying dead on a beach, I cried. It was horrific. Along with that photo, there was lots of "posting pictures of dead kids on FB is not cool" and cries of "that's shock porn!". So I decided it was time that I had a look at what the hell is going on there.

The extent of my knowledge: Back during the Arab spring, Syrians called for the resignation of their president. Unlike all of the others though, he didn't step down. He instead responded militarily. This is where I think the media often goes wrong. Rather than keeping with a story that's on a slow burn, we're treated to stories about what was trending on social media that day. Or we get to see someones next attempt of breaking some sort of record. Stuff that just doesn't belong on the news is on the news front and centre. It wasn't that long ago that I started this blog as a annoyed "that's not news!" outlet (5 years?). Does anyone know what's going on in Zimbabwe? Fiji? Even Christchurch? After the initial "holy crapballs on toast" response, we don't get much follow up.

And ISIS/ISIL/IS (whatever the abbreviation is now) have taken over areas in Iraq and some place else - which turns out to be Syria.

What are the bits that I was missing? Well... Things erupted into a big arse civil war. Rather than being the government against protestors, it turned sectarian with various rebel groups, ISIS, having originated in Iraq, being but one.

So we've now got various rebel groups fighting each other, the Syrian government trying to keep some sort of control via military means. There's be use of chemical weapons which has involved the use of sarin, chlorine and ammonia though the government blame the rebels and the rebels the government (though I'm pretty sure the jury is in on this one. The government's stockpile has been dismantled though there have been some more reports). The large scale bombing is mostly done by the Syrian armed forces (government) though the rebels have employed suicide bombings.

This all leads us to refugees... There are people, not involved in the fighting, in danger of their lives, in the middle of a war zone where "control" can suddenly change overnight and individuals/families persecuted for silly things like the religion they follow or what sect of Islam (or is it better described as tribe? I'm really not clear on this point) they are. The sane response is to try and find safety. Away from the fighting. Remembering that this started back in 2011.

Honestly, I'm disgusted. The response to refugees has been horrendous. If a simple photo had me in tears, it's the things that I associate to being a New Zealander being completely trampled upon by a morally bereft ruling party that keeps me up at night. We had a reason once to be proud. Now... I honestly don't recognize this moralless, neoliberal place I'm seeing around me. It's a no-brainer. EVERY OTHER party in parliament have stood on the side of taking in more refugees. And our PM's compromise is to take in an additional 600 refugees over 3 years. Just 200 more a year for 3 years.

Australia, with it's detention centres and associated human rights violations, have offered to resettle 12,000 refugees. This is a Tony Abbott government we're talking about. Putting NZ to shame on humanitarian issues...

Germans and Austrians (individuals) are driving over the border to Turkey to transport refugees while food and shelter is being set up around train stations. Mean while, homes earmarked for refugees in Germany have been victim to arson attacks.

Okay... a picture of a dead child might bruise your sensibilities. The callous attitude toward real people trying to find safety injures mine.

Pray I never meet Winston Peters. I'm not good at violence, but for that special penis head, I'll give it a good go. It would be for my country I'd be fighting...

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