Human RightsNorth AmericaSyria

NY Times staff physically ill by Syria rebels’ brutality

NY Times staff physically ill by Syria rebels' brutality

The raw video of rebels in Syria executing Syrian soldiers was so grisly, and so barbaric, that the New York Times staffers who watched and edited it for online publication were made “physically ill,” according to the newspaper’s spokeswoman.
Shortly after the Times posted it in the wee hours Thursday morning, the video went viral, leading the influential Drudge Report, proliferating on Twitter, Tumblr, and other social-media sites, and dominating cable news and broadcast outlets. It also became a tricky problem for the Obama White House.
The scene of Syrian rebels standing over seven soldiers of the Syrian regular army while the rebel commander recited a bloodthirsty poem—and pointing rifles and a pistol at the heads of their prostrate, shirtless, and badly beaten prisoners—was shocking enough.
Times video editors tactfully blackened the screen as the rebels—who, just like the United States government, oppose the Syrian government—began to execute the soldiers; the only indication of the slaughter taking place was a noisy fusillade of 10 seconds in length. Then an image flashed of the broken bodies in a mass grave.
The top of Thursday’s Times front page carried a five-column color photo of the ghastly scene, a screen-grab from the video, alongside a lead story about the horrifying footage. And, as is frequently the case, the pictures were far more powerful than the words.
“That why Human Rights Watch now has a multimedia department that extensively engages in the use of imagery as a way of conveying information and trying to increase the impact of that information,” said Carroll Bogert, executive director of external relations for the nongovernmental organization that globally investigates violations of international law and personal rights, including atrocities of war. “The tools are in the hands of everyone” who uses a smartphone and the Internet, giving them the means to document atrocities and share them with the world.
“What’s amazing to me,” Bogert told The Daily Beast, “is that the authors of [various crimes against humanity] often photograph themselves in heroic poses at the scene. That was true in the 1999 massacres of Kosovo, the guards at Abu Ghraib, and now the rebels in Syria. It’s the same kind of macho and bravado that leads the perpetrators and killers to boast about their acts—and it’s our job to make sure those pictures come back to haunt them.”
The video—which the Times reported was obtained a few days ago from “a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings” and smuggled it out of Syria—is suddenly haunting the Obama administration, and it could not have surfaced at a more opportune moment.
The US is planning to bomb Syria and weaken the Syrian army based on conflicting reports of an alleged chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, which killed hundreds of Syrians.
The US cites rebels’ claims that the Syrian government has carried out the attack, while there has been no evidence on the matter.
But the Syrian government has totally ruled out any involvement in the heinous use of chemical arms and says it was a false-flag by militants to open the way for US military intervention.

Back to top button