Assad's Regime Showed Its True Face In Geneva
03 February 2014
By Diana Moukalled
Question: What do you do with your detainees? What
does the Syrian government do with its detainees?
Answer: Sorry, I didn't hear you properly.
Question: What do you do with your detainees? Do they
end up looking like emaciated Belsen [Nazi
concentration camp] victims? Do you gouge out their
eyes and eventually kill them?
Answer: We have been trying in Syria to stop this
terrorism coming to our country, and we have been
trying to convince the international community that it
is very important to have the will to stop this . . .
There's no need to go through the rest of the
interview that Britain's Sky News conducted with
Bouthaina Shaaban, the Syrian president's advisor.
During the interview, journalist Anna Botting put firm
questions to Shaaban about the regime's actions and
did not tolerate her attempts to evade answering them.
Shaaban literally repeated the same statements during
the several interviews she gave while participating in
the Geneva talks on Syria. Her statements didn't
answer the question.
All the murder and terror is the responsibility of the
gunmen and terrorists, and the motive is a massive
colonial conspiracy that aims to harm Syria, Shaaban
She's the same Bouthaina Shaaban who weeks ago told us
that the chemical massacre in Damascus was committed
by the Syrian opposition, that it was also the
opposition who transferred men, women and children
from Latakia's towns to the outskirts of Damascus to
poison them with gas.
There's no use trying to find the funny side or even
discussing this kind of logic. Let's go back to the
question. What does the Syrian regime do with its
detainees? Isn't this the key question which all the
facts have revolved around for years now?
The answer used to be whispered to us in stories we
heard frequently. Then we heard them via diaries and
testimonies. After the revolution came leaked footage
and videos. We finally got the answer from more than
55,000 documents on 11,000 victims, some of which were
leaked by one of the jailors.
We then understood what it means for a person to be a
detainee of the Syrian regime. Starvation, gouged-out
eyes, and death through the worst methods of torture,
turning the victims into just another number buried
far away without anyone's knowledge.
Syrians, as citizens or media workers, cannot ask
their regime and its representatives questions like
those put to Bouthaina Shaaban. Independent media is
forbidden in Syria. But what the Syrians can't do in
their own country, they did at Geneva.
They protested in front of the hotel where the Syrian
delegation was staying, and they were not subject to
gunfire or detention from the security forces. They
pursued the regime officials and held their
microphones in front of them, asking them about
torture and [the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group] the
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The Syrian information minister and the rest of the
delegation members had no other choice other than to
swiftly walk away and hide in their car to avoid the
questions. Regime supporters and some of its media
thugs were there too, and they attempted to do what
they do best: beating up the regime's opponents. Not
only that, but they also mocked the shelling of some
Syrian areas with explosive barrels.
Despite that, the Syrian regime delegation in Geneva
was forced to confront questions, criticism, protests
and cameras. In Geneva, they could not prevent the
media from carrying out its job and could not prevent
cameras from rolling. They could not arrest
journalists or pluck out their eyes.
In Geneva, a confrontation between the Syrian regime
and the Syrian media happened for the first time
before the western media. It is in Geneva that the
Syrian regime was subject to the pure gaze of public
opinion for the first time. The regime seemed fragile
and incapable of speaking. It appeared weak and
The regime's fall in Geneva will pave the way for its
fall in Damascus.
Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected
TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her
phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked
Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas
and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and
satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a
veteran war correspondent, having covered both the
wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the
Isreali "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern
Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained world wide
recognition and was named one of the most influential
women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine