May 20, 2015

Are our politicians helping dictators gas civilians? 11 things you need to know.

There've been more than 20 chemical weapons attacks against civilians in the past several weeks. They all happened in Syria, and they all happened after something our politicians said. Here’s the story.

1. It started in Europe.

Chemical weapons were used for the first time 100 years ago during World War 1 by the Germans. They used chlorine gas on the French at the Battle of Ypres, killing thousands of soldiers and almost every living being around them. It was an idea that caught on.


2. Western companies flogged the chemicals to the dictator Assad …

Back in the 80’s when people weren’t really looking, countries like the UK and Germany made a tidy profit selling chemicals and technology to Hafez al-Assad, the father of today’s chemical weapons fanboy, Bashar.

3. … who then used them. On kids.

In August 2013, when Bashar al-Assad was really getting into his stride crushing the remnants of a peaceful uprising in Syria, he used Sarin gas on the town of Ghouta killing more than a thousand people. There were horrific pictures of children shuddering to death all over social media. The world had to act.

4. So we banned and destroyed Assad’s chemical weapons (phew). Except we didn’t really.

After threatening a military response, Obama, Cameron and their friends managed to get Assad to agree to destroy his chemical stockpile.  But they didn’t include chlorine on the list of banned chemicals so – no surprises – Assad starts using chlorine as a chemical weapon.

Photo: Human Rights Watch

5. In March this year, leaders came together once again. To ban ALL chemical weapons this time – including chlorine.

They passed Resolution 2209, threatening to use military force against anyone using chlorine as a chemical weapon. And that’s when things got really bad. It seems like now Assad is trying to make a point.

6. Since the resolution was passed, there have been more than 20 chemical attacks on civilians. More than TWENTY.

Barrel bombs have been dropped by the Syrian government right near homes, releasing poison gas into rooms where entire families are sitting or sleeping. One doctor said a family’s home had been turned into “a gas chamber”.

The images are heartbreaking.

Photo: Syrian Civil Defence

7. And then the UN Security Council cried

This is actually true. Dr Tennari, the heroic head of a hospital dealing with these chlorine attacks in Syria came to New York to tell the world body tasked with maintaining global peace – the UN Security Council – that they need to stop Assad’s chemical weapons. Of course they didn’t do that. Instead they just cried to his face.


8. … but did absolutely nothing.

By ignoring the promise they made to act, our politicians are basically giving the Assad regime a green light to keep using chemical weapons.

9. So the chemical attacks are still intensifying while we twiddle our thumbs.

Syrian families are on standby for more chemical attacks. But it might not only be chlorine next time. In the last month the inspectors found Sarin at a site undisclosed by the Syrian regime (diplomats made the information public).

10. Historically these attacks meant one thing: a massacre is coming

In the lead up to the Ghouta massacre in 2013 (see #3), there were a series of smaller chemical attacks – just like the ones we’re seeing right now. The White Helmets, Syria’s volunteer and impartial rescue workers who are saving these civilians, are really worried. They’ve noticed this pattern and think it could be leading to a large-scale chemical massacre.

11. So now you know, it’s your responsibility to act

Even though the media is not covering what is happening in Syria daily this cannot be an excuse for inaction. You know what’s happening (well at least you should do now).

So as a very first step, share this page with everyone you know. Share on Facebook. Share on Twitter. Share over email.

Then join the call from Syria’s volunteer rescue workers the White Helmets to the UN for protection from these chemical attacks. The world needs to take action to stop these bombs:

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