“To everyone who can hear me: We are here exposed to a genocide in the besieged city of Aleppo,” she said.
A Syrian activist described a “genocide” unfolding in the streets of Aleppo Monday, hours before reports surfaced that pro-government forces had executed civilians on the besieged city’s streets, including women and children.
Lina Shamy, who describes herself as an Aleppo-based member of the “Syrian Revolution,” said in a video that more than 180 people had died at the hands of forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Aleppo’s eastern half, an area once controlled by rebel fighters.
“To everyone who can hear me: We are here exposed to a genocide in the besieged city of Aleppo,” she said. “This may be my last video. More than 50,000 of civilians who rebelled against the dictator al-Assad are threatened with field executions or dying under bombing.”
The message marked one of many by Syrians who prepared for possible death as the United Nations received reports of pro-government forces killing men, women and children in summary executions and heavy bombing. Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. human rights office, recounted reports of at least 82 civilians killed, including 11 women and 13 children.
So is it genocide?
Norman Naimark, a Stanford University history professor and author of Genocide: A World History, said he wouldn’t use the word genocide to describe the horrors reportedly occurring in Aleppo — not that the label really matters.
“What is happening in Aleppo is terrible, and one should not worry excessively about whether to classify the atrocities as genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity,” Naimark said in an email. “I think the latter category probably fits best.”
Crimes against humanity include “attacks, systematic attacks, murder, rape, mayhem, on a civilian population,” he said.
Naimark said he he didn’t think it met the United Nations definition of Genocide, described as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” in in Article 2 of its Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Nearly half a million Syrians have been killed since the nation’s civil war began five years ago, with millions displaced. In a 2015 video from the Holocaust Museum, Holocaust survivor Margit Meissner lamented the actions of Assad’s regime, comparing it to the mass slaughter she lived through in the 1930s and ’40s.
“I find it most disheartening that again, 80 years after the end of World War II, the world is faced with a regime that targets its own people for destruction,” Meissner said. “One of the major differences it that the destruction of the Jews in Europe was secret. The humanitarian crisis in Syria is certainly not a secret.”
By late Tuesday, the Associated Press had reported that Syrian rebels reached a cease-fire deal allowing them to evacuate eastern Aleppo as Russia declared the area to be under Syrian government control. [USA TODAY]
(Photo: @linashamy / Twitter)