Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, talks about his mission to close the facility.
By Lucky Gold
So many wounded kids
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Robert King, a photojournalist who spent a month filming in Syria. “It’s the Butcher of Syria. He’s targeting civilians.”
Speaking Tuesday from Beirut to Christiane Amanpour, King said: “In twenty years I’ve not photographed so many wounded kids. And it seems like a lot of the world is indifferent about these horrific crimes.”
Asked why children were often the targets, he offered several reasons: “They (the survivors) assumed it was collective punishment. Then they believed it was because of their religious beliefs, that they were Sunni… and also because they were supporting the revolution. So you have this regime that’s trying to kill the revolutionaries; then they’re trying to kill the offspring of the revolutionaries – it’s ethnic genocide.”
Blood stained shirts
King acknowledged that the horrific images of wounded children were difficult to record and hard to view, but he said that they reflect the reality of life in many parts of Syria: “It was terrible. Just constant death, and pain, and suffering – and everyone’s walking around with blood stained shirts, sleeping when you can, trying not to let the shells that are exploding intimidate you.”
According to King, the hospital where wounded children were treated in the besieged city of Al-Qusayr has been taken over by the Assad army: “They use it as a staging ground and a sniper’s nest.”
As for the doctor, King said, “He works in a bombed out house. He basically converted a couple of bedrooms into a recovery center and an operation center…They use a desk lamp to illuminate the operating room. They have some type of tool that heats up and cuts though skin but they have to plug it in sometimes the electricity goes off and they have to run it on a generator.”
The toll on future generations
Also speaking from Beirut was Nadim Houry, a former corporate lawyer, now working for Human Rights Watch, assembling legal evidence of possible war crimes in Syria.
He said children have been a target of the Assad regime from the very beginning: “What started the whole uprising was the detention of a group of young teenagers who had been inspired by the Arab Spring and went and scribbled on some walls on their school – ‘down with the regime.’
He added, “And it was the subsequent torture of these children and the way the head of one of the security agencies dealt with their parents when they came asking to see their children – that sparked the whole thing.”
In documenting abuses, Houry said, “We’ve interviewed children who were detained with adults for weeks; sometimes held in solitary confinement, subjected to horrible torture. Some of these kids are fourteen, fifteen, find themselves today peeing on themselves at night because they still can’t control their anxiety. The toll on future generations of Syria cannot be underestimated.”