Highlighting Hama, Syria
August 3, 2011 § 3 Comments
As the world watches Bashar al Assad’s forces indiscriminately kill his own people, news continues to flow from the city of Hama about the atrocities occuring there, despite the military’s best efforts to cut all lines of communication. Although William Hague praised EU sanctions and warned Assad that he would soon find himself ”isolated internationally”, little has been done to actually stop these attacks. All the while, the people of this beautifully historic city continue to endure some of the most barbaric acts of violence since the beginning of this year’s revolutionary Arab spring.
I always find it harder to relate to news stories when you don’t know a place. If you’ve visited, you can picture the sights, remember the smells and run around inside your own memories. Without these it can sometimes be difficult to engage with a story. I visited Hama in 2004 and while I can’t get to any of my own pics (gathering dust in a box at my parents’) I thought now might be a good time to share a few images of this pretty city to try and bring it to life online.
Perched on the Oronotes River, Hama is Syria’s fourth largest city and, until recently, known mainly for one thing – its ancient wooden water wheels, or norias.
Picture courtesy of www.photos8.com
The use of wheels such as these in Syria can be traced back to the Byzantines, however it was the Mamluks that increased both the size and number of wheels in Hama.
Picture courtesy of www.allposters.com
At one time 30 wheels would have been turning in Hama, 17 of which are still in use today. Originally used for irrigation, spreading water across Hama through a series of aqueducts, the wheels act more as a traditional attraction these days and it’s easy to see why.
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
In the summer heat of a bustling city, the calming pace of flowing water provides some much-needed respite.
Sadly the relaxing nature of the water wheels is far from the minds of Hama’s residents at the moment. Having been at the root of the 2011 Syrian uprising, Hama has hosted massive protests and is home to the official body of the revolution, the National Salvation Council.
As I write, tanks are reported to be occupying the main square which has been central to the protests . It is said that Syrian forces are hoping the media will focus on Hosni Mubarak’s trial which began today, leaving them free to act without fear of international retribution. We cannot let this happen; Hama and the Syrian people must not be forgotten or sidelined by other events happening across the globe.
I fear there is no right answer as to whether or not we should intervene. From a humanitarian perspective, we most definitely should but sadly humanitarian needs rarely make the cut when it comes to decision making; politics and money usually win out – especially where there’s a chance of angering Iran. No one wants to stoke that fire.
That aside, it’s a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation and what with the bitter taste left by our ongoing efforts in Libya, I can’t see how the British government can justify the cost of another war. Here’s hoping the currently divided UN security council comes to an agreement soon; the people of Hama need their help.