Aleppo: Fall or Liberation?
Tonight the excellent Vanessa Beeley gave another important and crucial talk on Syria – Aleppo: Fall or Liberation? The implicit question in the title alluded to the gulf between the western corporate media’s interpretation and reporting of events in East Aleppo during December 2016, and the reality on the ground as seen by Vanessa and other independent witnesses, including the Reverend Andrew Ashdown, who were there to see first hand the liberation of the thousands of civilians held captive for over four years.
The 60 plus people in attendance tonight were shown eyewitness testimonies from civilians fleeing their imprisonment at the hands of terrorist factions inside Syria’s industrial heartland. Those interviewed by Vanessa, Syrian men, women and children, spoke of the atrocities committed by al Nusra and other al Qaeda linked groups: the woman shot in the mouth and left to die in the street because she had the audacity to ask for food, the daughter of a woman interviewed who had been dragged off to become the victim of multiple rape, the children captured and imprisoned just a week before the liberation of East Aleppo only to be found dead when the Syrian Arab Army were eventually able to break the siege, or the many victims of what we might consider minor injury: shrapnel wounds to limbs, easily treatable with modern medicine, who were instead denied medical attention and who subsequently lost feet or limbs to gangrene. A small boy was asked if he knew his captors, if they were from Syria – they were Sudanese was his reply. A few of the recently liberated spoke of the White Helmets. Most had never heard of them; but those who had described them as ‘al Nusra’s civil defence’.
As is becoming the norm for Vanessa’s talks, tonight’s venue came under concerted attack, both prior to the event and on the night itself. According to those in charge of the Marx Memorial Library and Worker’s School in London’s Clerkenwell, pressure had been applied by various groups and individuals for the event to be cancelled. It is testament to the bravery and integrity of the staff at MML that this intimidation was ignored and the event was allowed to go ahead.
During the talk an organised anti-Syrian group of perhaps a dozen people did all they could to disrupt the proceedings. White Helmet apologists – one protester with a megaphone was even wearing a white helmet, this generation’s most potent symbol of genocidal stupidity – were out in force, prepared to go to bizarre lengths to silence a truth teller. After watching the poignant testimony of a Syrian mother whose children had been killed by terrorists (this woman also criticized the Syrian government’s incredibly progressive and successful amnesty program – she was, in her grief, in favour of killing those responsible) the group began their attempts to bring the meeting to an abrupt end: two young women seated in the audience threw stink bombs to the ground and proudly announced that ‘this meeting is over’. Once the confusion ended the two were shown the door, but as the odour began to permeate the room it became obvious that this audience had the stomach and integrity to hear the truth despite the stench.
Soon after, others from outside rushed the door and let off more stick bombs in the entrance hall. Those inside knew that protection was needed so a group of us formed and we proceeded to eject those intent on disruption in order to allow the talk to continue. I soon found myself outside the library building facing a small crowd of al Qaeda sympathisers. It had been some time since I’d seen those so in tune with the ambitions of the imperial west this animated so it was somewhat shocking to witness this group who were utterly enthralled and mesmerised by the corporate media narrative: Bashar al Assad = bad. Syrian Arab Army = murderers. Russian military in Syria = not wanted or needed.
Having visited Syria six months ago I know for certain how deluded these people are. All the Syrians I spoke with were supportive of their government. Even legitimate opposition groups (those not under arms) understand this crisis to be a fight for their pluralistic, secular Syrian state against the warped Wahhabi fundamentalism so favoured by those cradles of democracy and decency in the gulf monarchies. Many Syrian couples are giving their new born children Russian names, some are pleading with Russian soldiers and airmen to be godparents, such is the overwhelming admiration and gratitude toward the soldiers, to the Russian state and in particular to President Vladimir Putin.
But none of this could be heard by the White Helmets’ London fan club. The two or three of them who claimed to be from Syria some might characterise as cowards – leaving their homeland when their brothers and sisters were fighting the ultimate battle against imperial terrorism. That this proxy war is so like all previous proxy wars was another truth unheard, unthinkable by this band of terrorist sympathisers. The journalists of the western corporate media had done their finest on these imbeciles – perceptions managed, unwilling to open their minds, unwilling to suspend their disbelief and steadfast in their ignorance.
Thanks to all those inside for attending and for being willing to hear what our media is failing to tell us. And if you harbour any doubts about the claims made, do what my co-editor and I are doing next month – visit Syria and see for yourself. The only downside to being an eyewitness is a loss of innocence. Once the destructive reality of the western proxy war sinks in, there is no longer any excuse for apathy.
Vanessa Beeley at Marx Memorial Library (1st March 2017)
Vanessa Beeley Q and A at Marx Memorial Library (1st March 2017)
SSUKers Attempt to Silence Syrian Voices at Marx Memorial Library (1st March 2017)