According to numerous reports from the Western media, human rights organisation, as well as the UN, countless peaceful civilians have been killed by the Syrian forces since the beginning of the unrest in the country in mid March. But where do the numbers come from?
Many media reports on the alleged deadly repression by the Syrian government fail to mention the sources of their information, which are very often referred to solely as "human rights groups" or "activists":
"Rights groups said Sunday that troops cracking down on pro-democracy protesters killed eight people in northern Idlib province and four more in central areas near
These protests are an unprecedented challenge to President Bashar al-Assad — and his family, which has ruled the country for more than 40 years. The cost has been high: at least 200 dead, according to human rights groups, and many cyber activists have been jailed. (Deborah Amos, Syrian Activist In Hiding Presses Mission From Abroad, NPR,
At least 75 people have been killed today in
Thirty were killed in the southern town of Izzra’, 22 in Damascus, 18 in the Homs area and the rest in other towns and villages, activists said [...] (Scores killed in Syria as 'Great Friday' protests are attacked, Amnesty International, April 22, 2011.)
Although the necessity to remain "anonymous" where dissent is said to be life threatening may under certain circumnstances be understandable, this stance inevitably raises suspicions: The "'numbers" can be used to demonize the government, as part of covert operations by any state or organisation looking for regime change in Damascus. It is no secret that the overthrow of the Syrian regime has been a long-sought goal by several foreign powers, including the
The reliance of the mainstream media on information emanating from anonymous groups provides a biased understanding of the Syrian protests, which in turn supports the broader objective of destabilizing the Syrian regime.
it's a game of telephone, the article explains. amensty starts noting the possibility that 171 people have died, al jazeera broadcasts that 171 people have been killed (not confirmed but the possibility is no longer part of the story) and it just builds and builds from there.
remember the game telephone? you played it when you were kids.
obviously the government remembers and so do compliant members of the media.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'