HAMA 32 YEARS LATER

View of wooden waterwheel on the Orontes River, Hama, Syria, November 2010; photo by David R. Muerdter

HAMA32 YEARS LATER. February 3 was the 32nd anniversary of the Hama massacre. One post caught my attention, as it asked a question that has become both familiar and justified since the onset of the Syrian Revolution: How could such a massacre take place without any mass condemnation, either Syrian, Arab or international? For whatever it is worth, the fault may lie in the absence of today's social media, among other forms of modern media technologies. Not only was there no Arab or world condemnation, but we are fortunate to find any images, pictures of the immense human and economic destruction which befell that great and ancient city. I have found the best sources to be oral histories--interviews with those who lived to describe in chilling detail what happened in 1982, whether in print or broadcast media. I found some of the interviews with the survivors on Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera and other networks to have been invaluable to any student or scholar eager to know what really happened to Hama in 1982. Casting this aside, I am still haunted by a legacy of shame, whenever I read about or listen to some "progressive" Lebanese (and of course some Syrians) considered members of what used to be called Lebanese "popular" and "unpopular" culture, who compose and read poems glorifying the "great" leader and his offspring, or do the same with music and song. That legacy remains painful when, instead of being condemned, it is celebrated instead. Even today, when almost every Syrian city has suffered a similar fate to Hama, little has been done to alleviate the agony of the Syrian people.

E. Chalala

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