Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Flotilla Wanted

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The Syrian situation continues to simmer along, although it seems to be slipping out of the headlines. The latest daily death toll from the clashes between the regime's military forces and the amazingly courageous protesters seeking liberation from the long-standing Ba'athist dictatorship is barely reported. At least ten reportedly killed yesterday, at least 12 killed on Wednesday - it seems to be simply background noise at this poinyt, just more additions to a death toll already up around 2600. Very disturbing videos of the victims surfaces periodically, but not that many people seem interested.

Even reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last week declared a "state of war" and a complete mobilisation of the armed forces against the protesters got almost no media coverage in Australia.

Another story that got almost no coverage but should have was the theme of the protests for last Friday - to call "for foreign protection" of Syrian civilians.

The Facebook page which has been at the centre of the Syrian protests announced, ""To the youths of the revolution, Friday we will be in all the places after the [Muslim] prayer, in all the streets... We will gather at the besieged towns, and call for international protection to protect our civilians."

This followed an appeal from the leading opposition groups for "the international community to send in human rights groups to monitor and help deter military attacks on civilians" in the increasingly bloody crackdown.

So my question is where are the human shields and flotillas? Here we have a situation where civilians are being murdered in large numbers on a daily basis. The people being killed are specifically calling for human rights groups to come and help them. Where are the activists who flew into Iraq to act as human shields to attempt to prevent the use of force against the regime of Saddam Hussein? Where are those who insisted flotillas were essential to break the "siege of Gaza" even though it is very clear that there is no starvation there or other significant loss of life from the blockade itself (though of course Israeli responses to rocket fire do cause some casualties, mostly among combatants.)

So are flotillas to Syria now on the way or at least being planned? And if not, as I suspect is the case, is this because Arabs being killed by their own governments do not count as a human rights issues the way Arabs killed (or even inconvenienced) by Jews or Americans do? Or is it because, despite all the claims from activists groups about the supposed heartlessness of Israelis and the preening about their own courage in confronting Israeli forces, these same groups recognise that, unlike Israel, the Syrian regime genuinely is heartless, and would not hesitate to add foreign nationals to the toll of martyrs to freedom rising every day in Syria.