Death in Syria has become so normalized that 100 people being killed in a day no longer warrants any international media attention. But there are some images that are so brutal, so gruesome, so inhumane, that they shock us all, no matter how normalized we may be. Well, most of us, anyway.
The discovery of tens of corpses near the Qouaiq River in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood in Aleppo is one of those images. This image will certainly be one of the images that remain in our historical conscience, long after the Syrian revolution is over.
Bustan Al-Qasr is a neighborhood in Aleppo that is famous for its enthusiastic, critical protests (which I have written about before here). Yesterday, the residents of Bustan al-Qasr were doing this:
And today, they are doing this:
A few of the dead have been identified. Their names are:
Mohammad Mounir Rabhaoui
Mohsen Ali Abd El-Qader
Abdo Mouqresh Ibn Yahya
Mohammad Abd el-Rahman Badawi
Mohammad Yahya Najjaz
The rest of the 80 bodies have not yet been identified. Pictures of the unidentified martyrs have been posted online. Once seen up close, it is evident that those who were killed had undergone a lot of torture and brutal treatment before they died. Some have parts of their head missing. Others’ faces are so decomposed that they are hardly recognizable. The images recall images of corpses from the Houla Massacre, and images of corpses in general after they undergo torture by Assad’s Shabiha.
There is no shortage of crimes being committed in Syria today. Many of the armed rebels have made mistakes. Some have committed crimes against local residents. Others have looted and robbed. But despite all that, despite all their misgivings, there is only one party that is capable of such sadistic and heinous brutality and inhumanity. It is not the Free Syrian Army. It is not Jabhat al-Nusra. It is the Shabiha of Bashar al-Assad
The protesters of Hama graffiti’d in 2011: “Here, humanity stumbled.” That is not to say that other humans outside of Syria have failed Syria. That is not to say that other humans should have pressured their governments for a “humanitarian” intervention. What it means is that, in Syria, the concept of humanity was defeated. When the Shabiha step on Syrians’ faces to the point of deformity with their iron boots, they are stepping on much more than a human face. They are stepping on the concept of humanity altogether.