August 22, 2023

Tenth anniversary of the Ghouta chemical attack

In the early morning hours of August 21, 2013, over 1,144 residents of Ghouta were killed after inhaling the nerve gas sarin, launched by the Syrian regime on the then-besieged suburb of Damascus. Many, including children, suffocated to death in their sleep. It was the deadliest chemical weapons attack of the 21st century, yet the past ten years have been marked by total impunity for war crimes.

To honor the victims and demand justice, many of us joined events organized by survivors of chemical attacks in Berlin, London, Paris, and more cities around the world. We heard directly from survivors and witnesses. Musicians played somber music and Syrian artists created new artworks to pay tribute to the victims.

Berlin Vigil

London Vigil

There have been more than 222 internationally prohibited chemical weapon attacks in Syria since 2011, all intended to terrorize populations and quell the Syrian peoples’ aspirations for freedom.

Human rights monitoring groups as well as investigations by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have consistently identified the Assad regime as the primary perpetrator – yet there has been no accountability for ten long years. Meanwhile, many governments are shaking hands with the perpetrator, and disinformation efforts by the regime and Russia aim to obscure the facts and smear witnesses and survivors.

Determined to safeguard the truth, and heavy with the grief of ten years of inaction, Don’t Suffocate Truth, a campaign led by survivors of chemical attacks, joined by Syrian communities in exile, organized vigils in 12 cities around the world. In northwest Syria, the White Helmets organized events in the cities of Azaz and Idlib.

To help elevate the demands for justice and accountability, please share this video of the vigils marking 10 years since the Ghouta attack widely.

As survivors of chemical attacks and other crimes, Syrians in exile and inside Syria live with an urgent need for justice and accountability. We cannot sleep soundly until we are reassured that our experiences will not be repeated, which will only happen when impunity for these crimes ends.