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Friday, January 17, 2014

Mondoweiss: While you were neutral about Yarmouk

This is how Amy Goodman finally reported on the siege of the Yarmouk, the Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, Syria on Democracy Now,31 Dec 2013:
The United Nations is urgently appealing for access to a Palestinian area of Damascus where people are dying from hunger. A U.N. official says some 20,000 Palestinians are trapped inside the Yarmouk district of Damascus amid fighting between the regime and rebels. Since the last delivery of U.N. aid in September, 15 people have died there from malnutrition, including five this past weekend.
This is a good answer to her shameful cover-up. Republished from Mondoweiss:
While you were neutral about Yarmouk
17 January 2014
by Talal Alyan
While you were insisting on neutrality about Yarmouk, the Syrian regime dropped barrel bombs on it. Mohammad Al Far. Husam Abo Ahmad. Mohammad Tafori. Mohammad Suhaib Al Qides. Ala’a Fri’j. These men are all dead. Mohammad Taha would later die too when he, along with a larger demonstration, approached a regime checkpoint in frustration after the carnage rained on them from above.

The Pro-Palestinian movement was delayed in picking up on the tragic unraveling of Yarmouk. It took the work of a great deal of dedicated activists to force it into the forefront of the solidarity movement’s agenda. What couldn’t be predicted, however, was that, in the place of silence, an ugly neutrality would hover over the new-founded concern. And that said the neutrality was often an unconvincing veil for something much more vile. Perhaps, in our naivety, we believe that when Yarmouk became visible, it would be nearly impossible to omit the clear fact that the siege was being imposed by the Syrian regime. Instead, it was the oppositional fighters in the camp who fell under the spotlight. A chorus emerged, one familiar enough to evoke a surreal sense of Déjà vu.

Yarmouk had transformed into Gaza. But this time, it was our side that was rationalizing the blockage, entertaining and validating the motives offered for collective punishment, instead of flatly rejecting it as a cruel practice.

As Lebanese blogger Mahmoud Mroueh wondered, “‘The Terrorists need to leave the refugee camp so civilians stop dying’–Zionist or Palestine solidarity activist?”

Al Awda, an organization dedicated to the Palestinian Right of Return, released a statement mourning Yarmouk. The culprit, however, was left obscured. “We call upon all parties, the Syrian government and the armed opposition, to take responsibility for any actions on their part.”

There is no equivalence to be drawn. By definition, a siege is forced by one party on another, imposing a collective punishment. The Palestinians of Yarmouk are starving? Agreed. The government is blocking the flow of goods? Agreed. Who is to blame for Yarmouk? Neutrality.

The US Palestinian Community Network issued a bolder statement calling on, ”all parties involved to immediately uphold the agreement of the Palestinians in Yarmouk itself: that the armed groups hiding in the camp must exit, and that the siege of the camp must end immediately”
The starved of Yarmouk
The rationalization of collective punishment. They oppose the siege. But peddle the reasons given by those implementing it. While there have been calls from within Yarmouk for armed groups to leave, it is a distant secondary thought. Palestinians from Yarmouk know that the regime is responsible for the imposed siege, and they resent that this point is muddled.

Salim Salamah, a Palestinian from Yarmouk, told me, “I mean with everything we are going through today, our belonging to Palestine is not defined anymore of our dream for our grandfather’s land, it is not embodied in a demonstration we hold on land day. With all the severe conditions, the romantic idea of Palestine is collapsing. We are third generation Palestinians; most of the ones inside Yarmouk now never saw Palestine. And then Palestinians outside Syria hold apolitical events to support us! They think they understand us and they do things like that!”

And he is right. For Palestinians from Syria, it has always been a lot clearer. “People in Yarmouk today and everyday saw where the mortars were coming from,” Salim explains, “and heard the warplane that approached today and bombed my friend’s building in Yarmouk. It should be clear to everybody who is to blame: Assad, Assad and then Jibril’s militia. The solution is clear, open Yarmouck from the north.” More...

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