Syria: Will Bashar Assad Repeat His Father’s
By Heshmat Alavi
The recent riot in Hama Central Prison and talks of a possible massacre of the prisoners by Bashar Assad has revived memoirs of the tragic 1982 massacre led by then Syrian president Hafez Assad and his brother Raf’at. More than 30 years ago the city of Hama witnessed a horrendous massacre, and today the son of Syria’s then dictator has killed ten times more Syrians than his father. For many Syrians and others who had heard about the 40,000+ massacre of Hama locals by Hafez Assad back in 1982, there are fears that a new tragedy may is in the making. The Hama massacre was carried out in a span of 27 days, and it seemed impossible to visualize for Syrians and all others. However, now that Bashar Assad and his allies have reportedly killed more than 470,000 Syrians, the massacre of 40,000 people unfortunately becomes imaginable. More than 6 million Syrians have been ruthlessly forced out of their homes becomes of this raging war. The question is will Bashar Assad resort to a similar massacre to desperately cling on to power?
Syrians Fall Victim To Assad Dynasty
The 1982 Hama massacre began with Hafez Assad encircling the city with main battle tanks and cannons, pounding residential areas with artillery fire. After they city was leveled Special Forces were dispatched to massacre the locals. Eyewitnesses say Hama had turned into a ghost town. Today, Bashar Assad is creating more carnage by dropping incendiary barrel bombs and massacring women and children using heavy weaponry, bombs and chemical substances in his attacks against neighborhoods. Hafez Assad had ordered anyone even in sympathy with Hama to be killed. The entire massacre took place under extreme media censorship, as no news agency, TV station or newspaper was able to report the catastrophe. The figure 40,000 was confirmed by human rights reports, eyewitness accounts, and Raf’at Assad and Abdul-Haleem Khaddam, Hafez Assad’s deputy, admitting to this devastation.
Tens of Thousands of Syrians Fled In Fear of Torture & Massacre
Syrian security forces would raid the city of Hama and arrest anyone left alive, even if they had no role in the opposition uprising. Around 10,000 people were reported missing. All Hama citizens, including women and children were indiscriminately considered suspects. Every Syrian was facing the threat of being arrested, tortured and murdered. They had no choice but flee, similar to the flock of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees we are witnessing today in the worst such crisis since the end of the Second World War.
The Assad Legacy: A Dynasty of Crimes
In the 1982 massacre, Hafez Assad security officials used a number of military and non-military organs to maintain the thousands of detainees behind bars. Entities that never enjoyed any assets to hold people in jail. In this day and age, Bashar Assad is repeating the experience of his father. Not only like his father did Bashar Assad fill the prisons of Syria, he has also closed down all military forts and schools to use as facilities where the thousands of Syrian detainees were held. The prisoners in these facilities lacked basic services, faced food and water shortages, lack of adequate clothing and a decent place to sleep. Many of these prisoners truly perished from severe hunger.
Riot & Civil Disobedience in Hama Central Prison
From early May around 800 prisoners launched a disobedience campaign in Hama Central Prison. This riot began after the prison management attempted to transfer a number of the inmates to the Seyednaya Military Prison near Damascus where dozens of prisoners have recently been executed. The prisoners have called on the international community to rise to their duties and prevent such vengeance measures by the Assad against these prisoners and the regime’s gross human rights violations. The French Foreign Ministry warned the Assad regime of any “lethal revenging operation” and called on Damascus allies to pressure this regime to prevent “a new massacre in Syria”.
Is Bashar Assad in a position actually to carry out such a horrendous massacre in Hama or any other city of Syria for that matter? Will the international community finally rise to its duty by probing into all the crimes committed by the Assad regime? The truth is Bashar Assad is no Hafez Assad. Bashar relies heavily on Iran and Russia for his advances, while both countries are juggling a slate of crises of their own, and of course, seeking their set of interests in Syria. It is up to the West and the entire international community to bring an end to the Syria war and close the book of the Syrian people’s suffering. Only through a firm and robust policy against the Assad/Iran/Russia alliances can the democratic world actually end the carnage and destruction in Syria.