On April 17, The Telegraph published a terrible piece on Syria in its News section. I immediately wrote the following letter to the editor; he refused it because it attacked the writer and was too long. The Telegraph published a shorter version today (photo) but here is my full original text.
That Peter Oborne has been a fan of Syria’s genocidal dictator for some time is clear; that he presents distortions and fables as facts in a quality publication like The Telegraph, however, goes beyond his right to have an opinion, as morally objectionable as that opinion may be.
Oborne suspects that some of the accounts of the government’s dreadful atrocities “have been exaggerated”; would that include the evidence of the Assad regime’s systematic mass torture and starvation until death of over 11,000 Syrian men, women and children, presented to the Security Council on Tuesday? Would that include the Secretary General’s report on UNSCR 2139, blaming the Assad regime for flouting the legal obligation to lift its numerous sieges on desperate civilian populations? Would that include the irrefutable proofs, documented by international and British media and NGOs, of the Assad regime’s barbaric missile and barrel bomb campaign in every corner of Syria? Would that include the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ plea to bring the regime to the International Criminal Court and hold it accountable for massive crimes against humanity, now that at least 150,000 Syrians have been killed (including hundreds who were gassed to death in a chemical weapons attack) and nearly 10 million have become refugees, fleeing Assad’s bombs?
The Assad regime’s atrocities are far from exaggerated; on the contrary, we are merely skimming the surface of what the Syrian people have been subjected to for not only three years of uprising, but for over 40 years of brutal dictatorship by the same clan.
It is outright dishonest of Oborne to claim that “jihadist groups make up the opposition” when the Free Syrian Army, formed initially by brave defecting soldiers who refused to carry out Assad’s orders to kill their compatriots, is the only force actually fighting the very jihadists of ISIS who the Assad regime never attacks. When barrel bombs and missiles continue to rain on schools, breadlines, hospitals and homes, the headquarters of these Al Qaeda terrorists have remained miraculously untouched by Assad’s bombs, which he reserves for civilians and the moderate nationalists of the Free Syrian Army.
It behooves honest journalists to give facts, and The Telegraph’s readers should have been told there is no such thing as an independent MP in Assad’s Syria, nor can there be a “free and fair election” when over two thirds of the population have been turned into refugees, are starving, maimed, ill and in no condition to vote – even if they had wanted to take position on this farce which Mr Oborne seems to be the only journalist to describe as “election.”
It is a pity that Mr Oborne fears leaving the comfort of his central Damascene surroundings under the supervision of the Assad regime; we would be happy to put him in touch via phone or Skype with hundreds of Syrians all over the country, or to take him on an actual fact-finding mission to the camps housing millions of Syrian refugees in the region, so that they can tell him, and readers of The Telegraph, why they had to flee the hell which Assad has unleashed on them.
National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces