Target: President Bashar al-Assad
Goal: Stop demolishing homes in Syria and compensate victims with adequate housing
During the Syrian conflict, satellite imagery, video footage, and witness statements show evidence of authorities unlawfully demolishing thousands of homes. Syria’s government claims these demolitions are military-related, but political experts believe that Syria is doing this to punish its citizens. Syria’s government needs to halt these demolitions at once and compensate victims with adequate housing.
Illegally razing neighborhoods violates international law, adding to Syria’s list of crimes during the conflict. It is also not considered a legitimate tactic of war. However it is succeeding in driving the citizens away from the country. Thousands have already fled the country to avoid the violence and if these citizens do not have homes to return to, then what reason do they have to come back? Syria and other world leaders have met during the Geneva conference, and as part of Syria’s agreement, the nation should make a commitment to end the demolition and compensate the victims.
Several neighborhoods were destroyed during the conflict. Human Rights Watch was able to document these areas: the Masha`al-Arb`een and Wadi al-Jouz neighborhoods in Hama, and the Qaboun, Tadamoun, Barzeh, Mezzeh military airport, and Harran Al-`Awamid neighborhoods in and near Damascus. Satellite imagery shows before and after shots of the neighborhoods, where some eight-story apartment buildings were leveled. Some neighborhoods had a few buildings left standing, while others were completely flattened, leaving only piles of rubble and debris. The demolition took place around strategic sites, where the government and opposition forces tended to clash. The operation was also overseen by government military forces, who claimed that the demolition was meant to remove illegally constructed buildings and as an urban planning effort. Testimonies from residents say that they had all of the necessary permits and documents for their homes.
The total building area demolished is estimated to be 400 hectares, or 200 soccer fields. Thousands of families have lost their homes to this illegal operation, and it needs to stop. The Syrian government needs to recognize that its citizens are suffering because of this conflict and should compensate its citizens with alternative and adequate housing.
Dear President Bashar al-Assad,
It has to come to my attention that thousands of Syrian citizens have lost their homes due to illegal demolition on the part of your government forces. Political experts believe that these demolitions have nothing to do with the military and instead are a way to punish the civilians. It angers me to think that your government wishes to punish their people. During the entire Syrian conflict, the people who have been affected the most are your civilians. Unlike the military they are not armed, they have not received training to fight or defend themselves, and they don’t wish to take part in the fighting. And yet, the government razes their homes as punishment. I have to ask, “Punishment for what?”
I demand that you halt these illegal demolitions at once and compensate your citizens with adequate housing. Their lives are ruined because of this violence and the least your government can do is try to make amends. Your people deserve to be treated like human beings, not pawns in this war.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Emanuel Yellin via Wikipedia Commons