Massacre by Putin’s Airforce Today In Syria’s Idlib Raises Question Is Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Lobbying Russia For Seat on UN Security Council Normalising Crimes Against Humanity?

Massacre by Russian airforce bombing vegetable market in the centre of Maarat Al Numan in Syria’s Idlib murdering over 30 civilians: Image from BBC story today Monday, 22 July, 2019: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-49074091

RONAN L TYNAN

I wrote in a letter published yesterday in the Sunday Times (July 22, 2019) that Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney let Ireland down in lobbying for a seat on the UN Security Council in Moscow promising Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov more trade and apparent silence on the country’s many international crimes from Ukraine to almost daily crimes against humanity in Syria bombing hospitals and targeting civilians in Idlib to keep the Syrian regime in power. But worse still in the same paper a headline under scored just how far Mr Coveney seems prepared to go to secure that seat – “Coveney avoids Uighur topic with Chinese dignitary” – referring to the fact that China has interned over a million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps and the “dignitary” in question was responsible for building these camps when head of Xinjiang province.

Russia and China do not respect human rights and their Presidents show contempt for democracy and the rule of law. Indeed, Putin recently went so far as to imply that liberal democracy and human rights were outdated concepts. Against that background how could Simon Coveney seriously lobby the support of these powers for a seat on the Security Council when the price clearly implies silence and complicity in their crimes against international law and none more egregious than Russia’s almost daily crimes against humanity in Syria?

A good illustration of just how dangerous this Russia China axis on the Security Council has become was well illustrated when President Putin’s ambassador, backed by his Chinese counter part, vetoed referring Syria to the International Criminal Court with the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria describing the Assad regime as engaged in a policy of “extermination” against civilians, and Amnesty stated one of the regime’s most notorious torture prisons is ‘a human slaughter house.”

Some estimates suggest as many as six hundred thousands have been killed in Syria since the peaceful uprising in 2011; more than half the population have been forced to flee their homes with six million internally displaced and almost the same number are refugees outside the country.  Meanwhile, the Assad regime so terrifies most refugees they will not go home, not least with reports that some returnees have been tortured, imprisoned or forcibly disappeared and some dying under torture. At the same time the regime has confiscated the property of many refugees enriching some of its major supporters underlining its quite brutal and unscrupulous crony capitalist nature. And most significantly the regime is responsible for over 92% of civilian casualties with many accusing Assad of using ISIS atrocities as a cover for its own industrial level of depravity on a vast scale that making it by far the biggest and worst human rights abuser in Syria.

Does Simon Coveney’s campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council imply normalising the reign of terror by Russia in Syria and China in Xinjiang?  Indeed, to say the Minister has “let Ireland down” which I wrote in the Sunday Times seems like an understatement? The real crime in lobbying despotic regimes is to send a clear message that egregious abuses and unimaginable depravities need not upset our relationship implying so ‘normal’ unworthy of outrage! 

Please Minister Coveney do not seek to normalise crimes against humanity in my name.

Ronan L Tynan is Director of the multi award winning ‘Syrian – The Impossible Revolution’ and co-founder with Anne Daly of Esperanza Productions:
Web site: http://www.esperanza.ie
Twitter: @RonanLTynan

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Why is largescale corruption and misappropriation of humanitarian aid by the Assad regime in Syria being tolerated by the UN and the EU?

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Open Letter to HE Secretary General Antonio Guterres of the United Nations and
HE Vice President of the European Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Maria Mogherini

Dear Mr Secretary General and Madam Vice President

I write to express my alarm, which I know is shared by many, that there was no acknowledgement at the Brussels Conference on Syria recently of the large-scale misappropriation of humanitarian aid by the Syrian regime or any announcement that this grand larceny and high level corruption at the expense of the most vulnerable would be investigated. Therefore, in securing a further $3.3 billion for Syria, you must be aware given past form it is almost certain much of it will be misappropriated and further embolden a brutal dictatorship to continue its war against civilians which is characterised by a stream of crimes against humanity, so many documented in reports since 2011 by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria established by the UN’s Human Rights Council. What hope for transitional justice and a democratic future for the people of Syria if the regime is allowed to sustain itself stealing humanitarian aid?

The leading humanitarian Dr Annie Sparrow, who helped save thousands of children’s lives in Syria, exposed the Syrian humanitarian aid scandal in a number of articles, and most recently in the prestigious international relations journal Foreign Affairs showing how UN agencies effectively helped the Syrian regime evade the impact of sanctions in allowing as she put it ‘the Assad regime to take control of the $30 billion international humanitarian response, using donor funds to skirt sanctions and subsidise the government’s war effort.’ Indeed, to underline the importance of aid to Assad, Dr Sparrow quoted an unpublished report from the Syrian Centre for Policy Research which showed that total humanitarian expenditures in Syria, including both UN and non-UN sources of funding, made up 35% of the war ravaged country’s GDP.

Dr Sparrow also showed the quite shameless way in the which the Syrian ministry of defence and various branches of the intelligence agencies took direct control of aid through the regime’s establishment of the Higher Relief Committee (HRC) which handles all requests for UN humanitarian access. She presented prima facie evidence in the form of an HRC facilitation letter she obtained from a source within the Syrian aid community, authorising a Red Crescent aid delivery signed by the minister for health and officers from air force and military intelligence services, exposing the long suspected role of these agencies in directing humanitarian aid. In other words, the Ministry of Health, and the heads of the air force and military intelligence all sanctioned by the US, UK and the EU are “managing” humanitarian aid!

However, as Dr Sparrow pointed out the Assad regime does not only control humanitarian aid it also siphons off large portions to pay for its “war” and to line the pockets of its key figures. This siphoning process extends from levying a tax on the salaries of up to 20% on all relief staff to insisting that all international humanitarian aid organisations must only operate through “local partners” who can only be selected from a list from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has also been sanctioned by the US. These “local partners” can better be described as fronts for the regime’s explicit theft of humanitarian aid as Dr Sparrow explains that these

“….regime-controlled entities, such as Syria Trust (founded and chaired by Syrian First Lady Asma al-Assad), or shell companies disguised as charities, such as Al-Bustan, owned by Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf. Both Asma al-Assad and Makhlouf are subject to international sanctions, as is Walid Moallem, the minister of foreign affairs. In May 2017, the U.S. Treasury added Al-Bustan to its list of sanctioned entities. Yet since the UN does not require its partner organisations to disclose their own subcontracting partners, National NGOs such as Syria Trust can still subcontract Al-Bustan and similar entities, channeling UN funds to regime insiders.”

Tolerating this level of corruption against a background where the former UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has described the Assad regime’s war efforts as a ‘monstrous campaign of annihilation’ of civilians is not only reinforcing the climate of impunity but also allowing the diversion of humanitarian aid to fund crimes against humanity? Potential crimes against humanity that were again being committed during the Brussels conference, and still continue with the Syrian regime bombing civilians in Idlib, albeit on a smaller scale than usual only because they have not yet launched a full scale offensive against these defenceless civilians. Meanwhile, as you are aware the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs has warned that if Assad and his allies do attack that region deploying their usual scorched earth tactics against the three millions civilians including one million children living there, most of whom were forcibly displaced by his regime from other parts of Syria, it will result in the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the whole history of the conflict.

The case for an urgent investigation into corruption and the misappropriation of humanitarian aid in Syria is beyond dispute. However, if you fail to insist on that you will continue to make us complicit in the crimes against humanity being committed there by helping to fund these crimes and sustaining an egregious climate of impunity.

Yours respectfully and sincerely

RONAN L TYNAN
Director
‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’

25 March, 2019.

Ronan L Tynan is Director of the multi award winning ‘Syrian – The Impossible Revolution’ and co-founder with Anne Daly of Esperanza Productions:
Web site: http://www.esperanza.ie
Twitter: @RonanLTynan

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Why the silence about one of the biggest mass rape campaigns of recent times on International Women’s Day? #IWD

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RONAN L TYNAN:

“I screamed, but no one came,” a chilling line from the testimony of a woman raped in Dara’a, Syria quoted in a recent UN report, and reflects the almost invisible nature of one of the biggest mass rape campaigns of recent times by President Bashar al-Assad to suppress the 2011 peaceful uprising against his dictatorship.

This has troubled me since we made our documentary ‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’ because of the number of times reference was made to the Assad regime’s rape campaign and yet that is not reflected in coverage of the Syrian conflict.

(In this article I deliberately avoided describing explicitly the nature of these crimes which many might find too difficult to read.)

But why has this potential crime or crimes against humanity received virtually no publicity as more and more evidence surfaces not least with the publication of the report by the UN Commission of Inquiry – ‘ “I lost my dignity”: Sexual and gender-based violence in the Syrian Arab Republic’. The report underlined the scale of these crimes and horrific abuses suffered by of Syrian women and young girls, some as young as ten years old. And while the UN extensively reported on the egregious nature of the Islamic State’s horrific campaign against Yazidi women which used rape and sexual violence as a form of genocide the latter may also explain why Assad’s systematic mass rape campaign received little or no attention. However, the latest report also noted that while armed groups were responsible for similar crimes they were ‘considerably less common than rape by Syrian Government forces and associated militias.’

On International Women’s Day one still must ask why have the tens of thousands of victims of rape and sexual violence at the hands of the Syrian regime and its associated militias been ignored for so long? However, as a rising tide of evidence about their systematic rape and sexual violence comes to light it is clear that the day of reckoning for these crimes is approaching? More so because Syrian women themselves are starting to raise their voices and demand justice? Women like Zahira (not her real name) interviewed in the UK ‘Independent’ which described her story as ‘not easy to read’ and what she went through as ‘beyond the imagination of most of us.’

Very important to point out, as all reports on Assad’s rape campaign note, that men and boys were also subjected to rape and sexual torture but on a much smaller scale than women and girls.

A Grave Humiliation

The relative delay in these mass rapes and sexual crimes coming to light is partly explained by a great irony. Rape and sexual violence are perceived as a grave humiliation in Syrian culture with considerable social stigma and shame attaching to the victims. In our own society women and girls who are victims of rape also find it difficult to come forward and seek to ensure those who rape them are brought to justice. In Syrian society as London School of Economics researcher Marie Forestier explained in her report ‘“You Want Freedom? This is your freedom”: Rape as a tactic of the Assad Regime’ women and girls are even less likely to come forward as they face being rejected by their husbands or families even though they are victim of the most egregious of crimes.

Forestier revealed how she was told by one defector: ‘There is nothing worse in our culture’ as if to underline that when Assad resorted to a rape campaign its potential and objective were clear. As one activist explained to her: ‘By extension, the humiliation of women spills over to her family, and her community. ‘In Syria, honour is associated with women. So, in order to humiliate a community, the regime targeted women’.’ Her report showed that anywhere regime forces engaged with the population which was perceived to be part of the opposition women and girls were raped whether as check points, at home or in detention centres. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of that attempt to break communities was the way in which women were raped in front of their families with wives and mothers for example raped in front of husbands and children like the case of Fawziya in Al Houla.

However, if Forestier’s report was shocking the UN Commission of Inquiry Report was even more disturbing because of its revelations about both the scale and nature of the use of rape as tactic by Assad in attempting to break the opposition. The report also showed how the use of rape mirrored the conflict on the ground. For example, in the early phase when the Syrian regime prioritised ground operations and house raids most women and young girls were raped at home, often in front of their families. However, as conflict developed from 2012 ‘Government forces began to prioritise the use of airstrikes, thus decreasing the interaction between Government troops and the wider population. As the conflict progressed, most sexual and gender-based violations by Government forces therefore occurred at checkpoints or in detention.’ In other words, rape remained a key part of Assad’s strategy but women and girls were more likely to be raped at check points and in prison than at home.

This is but a very short summary about one of the most egregious crimes committed by the Syrian regime against its own people. But as more and more women find the courage against incredible pressure to provide evidence, prosecutions that must include Assad himself are inevitable?

Ronan L Tynan is Director of the multi award winning ‘Syrian – The Impossible Revolution’ and co-founder with Anne Daly of Esperanza Productions:
Web site: http://www.esperanza.ie
Twitter: @RonanLTynan

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Illegal Cluster Bombs Killing Children in Idlib, Syria – Ireland where convention to ban cluster bombs first adopted must lead in demanding Assad stop these crimes against humanity

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Ronan L Tynan:

More reports from Idlib provide clear evidence Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, is using illegal cluster bombs against civilians which exact a heavy toll, a threat that also lingers long after the initial bomb attack as so many unexploded lethal bomblets are left strewn across a wide area. Ireland where convention to ban cluster munitions was first agreed at an international diplomatic conference in Dublin should lead in demanding an end to civilian slaughter with these egregious weapons.

The latest report from citizen journalist and photographer FARED (@Fared60350386 on Twitter) shows video of the remains of a cluster rocket one of many fired by the Assad regime on Ma’arat al-Nu’man in the southern Idlib countryside yesterday (Saturday, March 2, 2019).

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In using illegal cluster munitions Assad with Russia and Iran are potentially not only implicated in warcrimes but crimes against humanity because these lethal munitions are directed at civilians. The terrible toll these weapons exact on civilians in the first instance is amplified over time because so many are killed or suffer horrific injuries especially children when they encounter unexploded bomblets.

Given the support for the Syrian people in Ireland as exemplified by the internationally recognised Irish Syria Solidarity Movement the Irish government should raise its voice to demand adherence to the convention in Idlib to halt the use of cluster bombs and save civilians.

The international Convention on Cluster Munitions was agreed in Dublin in May, 2008 and has now been ratified by almost 110 states and prohibits the use, transfer and stockpiling of these egregious weapons. Leading Irish diplomat Daithi O’Ceallaigh then Ambassador to the UN in Geneva who chaired the conference played a decisive role in securing the adoption of the convention.

Ronan L Tynan is Director of the multi award winning ‘Syrian – The Impossible Revolution’ and co-founder with Anne Daly of Esperanza Productions:
Web site: http://www.esperanza.ie
Twitter: @RonanLTynan

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Courageous Citizen Journalist & Photographer under fire in Idlib – like Marie Colvin and Paul Conroy rolled into one – paints a terrible picture of civilians slaughter

FARED or @FARED60350386 on Twitter is a young citizen journalist and photographer in Idlib who hour by hour has been fearlessly reporting on the relentless attacks on civilians and where children in particular are paying a terrible price. He asks “why has the world abandoned us” and where is our commitment to “human rights and children’s rights?” His reports on Twitter make him a compelling witness to warcrimes and crimes against humanity and a shocking reminder of our abysmal failure to stop mind numbing slaughter in a area of Syria where three million civilians including one million children are at grave risk if these relentless and merciless attacks continue by the Assad regime.

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It is hard not to see the attacks on Idlib right now as a naked campaign against civilians with so many images of dead and wounded children. This slaughter underlines there is absolutely no respect for human rights or the rights of children and no attempt to stop these latest egregious attacks by the Syrian regime backed by Russia and Iran they will continue without an urgent demand by the international community that they stop the body count will continue to mount.

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FARED tweets vividly tell the story of civilians under extreme fire as the world appears to have turned its back. Day after day children women and men are killed as the Assad regime break the cease fire and maintain withering fire on defenceless people whose only crime is to have fled to Idlib from other other parts of Syria to escape regime savagery.

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What is remarkable about FARED reports is that he is continuing to maintain them as only recently a rocket landed only fifty metres from where he was taking shelter in the midst of an attack. But what is really shocking is the nature of his eye witness testimony of what is being done to civilians by Assad with no international media focus on Idlib.

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FARED is almost like war correspondent Marie Colvin and her working partner photojournalist Paul Conroy rolled into one. Many people will be familiar with their extraordinarily courageous work in Homs where under relentless bombing by Assad they continued to report and she paid her life and Paul was critically wounded. FARED much younger but with equal courage is now under similar fire in Idlib already narrowly escaping death.

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One citizen journalist working alone under fire using Twitter as his only outlet is up against it trying to alert the world to the slaughter of civilians in Idlib. We can help him by asking our national and international media to join him in reporting on the plight of his fellow Syrians – children, women and men – who are killed and wounded now around the clock because they peacefully protested against the Assad regime in the Syrian uprising in 2011 and are still paying a very heavy price.

RONAN L TYNAN

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IDLIB – Open Letter to UN Syria Envoy Staffen de Mistura re proposal about “safe corridors” that would put civilians at risk of arrest, torture and death

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Dear Mr de Mistura

I was shocked and frankly appalled that you could seriously propose sending hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians in Idlib, many extremely vulnerable families with over one million children, back to the government controlled areas from where they fled through allegedly “safe corridors”. Worse still you cannot but be aware that such a suggestion gives encouragement to the Assad regime, Russia and Iran to launch an attack on a region that has become if anything one of the world’s largest de facto refugee camps, albeit for internally displaced people  Indeed, so many there have already been forced to flee multiple times already to escape slaughter by the regime and its allies before reaching Idlib. But you know all that! Therefore, how could you even make such a suggestion when you also know about the warcrimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian regime and its allies against civilians, and documented by various UN agencies? 

Your job is to help to protect civilians and in making your “safe corridors” suggestions you give the impression you are feigning ignorance of what happened in Syria over the last seven years? Indeed, reflecting on the recent statements by Assad’s Air Force Intelligence chief Jamil al-Hassan, you will be well aware that the Syrian regime has already begun building an even more repressive state. Speaking to a group of 33 senior officers he reportedly said: “A Syria with 10 million trustworthy people obedient to the leadership is better than a Syria with 30 million vandals. … After eight years, Syria will not accept the presence of cancerous cells and they will be removed completely.”  He also said that there are three million Syrians on his wanted lists and that judicial cases have been prepared against them, and that anyone deemed a ‘hindrance’ to the regime’s consolidation of power would be labeled a ‘terrorist’ and dealt with accordingly.  In Syria, as you know, a “wanted list” is usually a “death list.”

Germany has issued an international arrest warrant for Jamil al-Hassan, a welcome move by the European country that has welcomed the largest number of Syrian refugees. Indeed, al-Hassan’s comments about refugees were especially disturbing (and even more chilling from the perspective of civilians in Idlib) describing those planning to return as ‘sheep’ saying the corrupted ones would be filtered out and the ‘good ones’ would be used. But what does that mean? A recent investigation by the Irish Times showed that returning Syrian refugees faced threats, arrests and even death. For example, of four who were killed, three died in regime custody between two and four months after returning.

Surely people forced to flee multiple times in Syria have suffered enough at the hands of the regime and its allies  because the latter have chosen to fight their “war” primarily against civilians using scorched earth/ethnic cleansing which explains why Idlib now has a population of up to four million people. Those who made it to Idlib have lost everything. Meanwhile, tens of thousands remain ‘forcibly disappeared’ by the regime; over five hundred thousand are probably dead; more than half the population of Syria have been forced to flee their homes; millions are wounded physically and mentally including a majority of the country’s children, and 92% of civilians casualties are blamed on Assad and his allies.

If your “peace making efforts” in Syria are based on sacrificing potentially millions of civilians you should resign because you have apparently chosen not to confront all of those responsible for warcrimes and crimes against humanity?

Yours sincerely

Ronan Tynan

Producer/Director

‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’

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Paul Conroy To Introduce Premiere ‘Syria-The Impossible Revolution’ – Hong Kong Theatre, LSE Wed. Next 6.30pm

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Paul Conroy wounded when his colleague the late Marie Colvin, Sunday Times war correspondent was killed in Baba Amr by Assad regime artillery.

RONAN TYNAN – Producer/Director – ‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’ 

Could not think of a better person than photographer Paul Conroy to launch our documentary ‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’ because he was wounded in a brutal attack on the press centre he was working from in Baba Amr, Homs in 2012. A targeted artillery barrage in which his colleagues Sunday Times’ war correspondent Marie Colvin and French Photographer Remi Ochlik were killed because the Assad regime, as documents that have come to light show, wanted journalists covering indiscriminate civilian slaughter stopped. The regime succeeded beyond its wildest dreams because after these murders the major networks effectively withdrew and the phrase “could not be independently verified” or similar words became common discounting the incredible courage of local Syrian media workers risking their lives to report on what often appears like a brutal war against civilians.

Paul Conroy was seriously wounded in an attack designed not just to intimate the media, but to erase Western media coverage from the frontline in a conflict in which civilians have paid, and continue to pay a terrible price.

But why does there appear to be such little outrage at the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, an apparent lack of interest and concern even as the numbers now dead exceed more than 500,000 by some estimates. Worse still against a background where half the population have fled their homes and five million are now refugees outside the country?

ISIS or Daesh certainly helped Assad to cover up his relentless repression as they sought publicity for their crimes against journalists, and anyone deemed an “apostate”,  distracting from his regime’s industrial scale repression.  All of which only serves to underline that Syrians who risked their lives in 2011 taking to the streets to peacefully protest and demand an end to brutal dictatorship and some form of democracy ultimately still find themselves often caught between fascists with beards and fascists in suits?  In that context, I am constantly haunted by Amnesty’s description of the regime’s Saydnaya prison as ‘a human slaughterhouse’ where thousands have disappeared and many tortured to death.

‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’ 

Three years in the making this feature length documentary offers unique insights into the roots of the Syrian Revolution and how what began as a peaceful uprising turned into a very brutal conflict as the Assad regime cracked down.

‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution,’ a film by Anne daly and Ronan Tynan, seeks to unravel the roots and ‘complexities’ of the bloodiest conflict in the Middle East as well as the politics of the Western response. It also examines why some elements on the Left are on the same page as the extreme Right defending the Assad regime against “US imperialism” apparently oblivious to the role of Iran and especially Russia and her indiscriminate bombing of civilians as well as hospitals which many charge are warcrimes?

The film traces the roots of the Syrian revolution through the regime of Assad’s father up to the fall of Aleppo. Using extensive archive and interviews with a wide range of people directly involved as well as experts on the region, the documentary seeks to offer some understanding about a conflict that has plumbed new depths in terms of the toll it has extracted on civilians. Some suggest more than five hundred thousand are already dead, half the population have fled their homes and five millions are now refugees in Europe and neighbouring countries with little prospect of returning any time soon.

‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’ was made by Esperanza Productions co founded by award winning filmmakers Anne Daly and Ronan L Tynan.

esperanza.ie

Ends.

 

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The Power of Art & ‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’ – How Drawings Allow Us To Confront Horror & Not Turn Away?

Syria-The Impossible Revolution – TRAILER from Esperanza Productions on Vimeo.

The world turning away from Syria as if people do not want to know – my abiding impression after three years working on the documentary ‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’. Why such indifference to egregious violence and horrific suffering inflicted on civilians including children? Normally the world starts to pay attention when the death toll mounts but over five hundred thousand have already been killed in Syria and it does not seem to make any difference? Indeed, in the seventh year since the Assad regime brutally crushed a mass peaceful uprising in 2011 the regime and its allies are still bombing hospitals in Idlib. Not only are these warcrimes being ignored they are not even making news anymore!

Making a film of any kind about the conflict in Syria means showing egregious violence against civilians. But how do you do that without making it impossible to watch even by hardened veteran? Marc Nelson the artist solved that problem for us when I approached him after seeing how powerful his drawing are on Twitter. Of course we had to plough through hours of archive video, including footage of so many extremely violent atrocities of all kinds making this documentary. However, Marc’s drawings convey the horror and the crimes, but in not forcing the viewer to turn away he also leaves room for outrage!

Many have already commented very positively to us about the drawings we used are in the trailer. Obviously in a feature length documentary that focuses on the Syrian Revolution and the conflict that developed in Syria when the peaceful uprising was brutally crushed must use considerable video archive. But in telling that story when people are already turning away we wanted to make it possible for anyone to watch without switching off. “The power of art” may have been turned into a cliche in some quarters but as some have already told us the drawings helped draw them into the story where graphic violent video footage might have turned them away!

Thanks Marc!

Ronan L Tynan
Director and Co-Producer
‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’

A feature length documentary made by Esperanza Productions ‘Syria-The Impossible Revolution’ will premiere in London on October 18 in the Hong Koing Theatre at 6.30pm in the London School of Economics. The film with be formally launched by photographer Paul Conroy who was wounded when his colleague war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed when the Assad regime targeted their press centre in Homs, Syria in 2012.

esperanza.ie

BACKGROUND:

Syria – The Impossible Revolution’

Three years in the making this feature length documentary offers unique insights into the roots of the Syrian Revolution and how what began as a peaceful uprising turned into a very brutal conflict as the Assad regime cracked down.

‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution,’ a film by Anne daly and Ronan Tynan, seeks to unravel the roots and ‘complexities’ of the bloodiest conflict in the Middle East as well as the politics of the Western response. It also examines why some elements on the Left are on the same page as the extreme Right defending the Assad regime against “US imperialism” apparently oblivious to the role of Iran and especially Russia and her indiscriminate bombing of civilians as well as hospitals which many charge are warcrimes?

The film traces the roots of the Syrian revolution through the regime of Assad’s father up to the fall of Aleppo. Using extensive archive and interviews with a wide range of people directly involved as well as experts on the region, the documentary seeks to offer some understanding about a conflict that has plumbed new depths in terms of the toll it has extracted on civilians. Some suggest more than five hundred thousand are already dead, half the population have fled their homes and five millions are now refugees in Europe and neighbouring countries with little prospect of returning any time soon.

‘Syria – The Impossible Revolution’ was made by Esperanza Productions co founded by award winning filmmakers Anne Daly and Ronan L Tynan.

esperanza.ie

Ends.

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Will A US-UK Trade Agreement Threaten Public Services in Britain and Reduce Food Standards Based on American High-Intensity, High-Chemical, Low-Animal Welfare Farming?

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Growth hormones in beef and GMOs as standard in the British food chain only part of the high cost of a US-UK Trade Agreement

 

Ronan L Tynan

The reality of what a trade agreement with #Trump’s ‘America First’ might look like came painfully into focus for many in the United Kingdom this week. First, full competition in the realm of public services is a given as far as the Americans are concerned. This no doubt will alarm many after the reassurances from brexit campaigners that leaving the EU would allow Britain to protect the NHS. Worse still the UK will have a very weak bargaining position. Indeed, desperation weighing on the British side will tempt the Americans to extract the toughest imaginable deal. That is the nature of trade negotiations.

But it is not only the NHS that will be at risk in any trade agreement with Trump’s America. Food standards will also come under enormous pressure. This means beef and pork produced using growth hormones, chicken washed in chlorine, fruit and vegetables treated with endocrine-disrupting pesticides and genetically engineered and modified foods will all have to become legal in the UK in the interests of “fairness” to giant American food corporations. In fact it is important to emphasise that Trump’s negotiators would be seen as negligent if they do not absolutely insist on that. Never mind that such dangerous methods of foods production pose a threat to human health – which US corporations pay large amounts in campaign contributions to get through Congress – but also could spell the end for much of British agriculture.

Perhaps that is why in spite of her renowned euroscepticism Margaret Thatcher was such a big fan of the Single Market because as one of the Big Three with France and Germany inside the EU, the UK could never be pushed around. Not so as we see now? Outside the EU the British market is very small in global terms and the UK’s ability to negotiate will correspondingly be drastically reduced.

EU regulations ban American style food production in Europe protecting not only European farmers but also the health of consumers. Indeed, the EU has easily resisted immense pressure by the US to accept its high-intensity, high-chemical, low-animal welfare farming. But outside the Single Market, May and her government will not have that leverage to resist American style food regulations.

Public services, agriculture and food productions are only some areas that will be affected by a US-UK trade deal. Again it is important to constantly remember these are hard fought negotiations but outside the EU, and under pressure to secure a trade agreement, acceptance of US labour and environmental standards must inevitably be demanded of the UK to ensure a “level playing field” for American corporations as well.

Many in Britain who criticised the so called “burden of EU regulations” in advocating brexit are in for a very painful shock when they realise the role they play in protecting consumers and businesses. In the United States on the other hand business seems to have the upper hand – in terms of influencing regulations – and this will be reflected in the trade agreement that the UK will be forced to accept if it wants an agreement?

Ends

 

Ronan L Tynan is a documentary filmmaker and co-founder of the award winning Esperanza Productions.

Twitter: @RonanLTynan

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‘The Singer of The Revolution’

I was reminded on Twitter yesterday of Syria’s ‘Singer of The Revolution’ Ibrahim Kashoush – a compelling  symbol of the 2011 peaceful Revolution which demanded an end to the Assad dictatorship and its replacement by democracy. Kashoush’s inspirational voice leading the chorus of the song that became synonymous with his name – Bashar, Leave From Here’ – can be seen in this video recorded at a mass demonstration against regime violence on the main square in Hama in late June, 2011.  That very inspiring performance – a seminal moment in early months of the Revolution – is believed to have cost him his life as immediately afterwards he was murdered by Assad’s Shabiha with his vocal chords out.

Assad’s propaganda machine including well paid PR companies in the West and his army of social media trolls have sought to bury the peaceful mass uprising for democracy dismissing those courageous Syrians who took to the streets as terrorists as he brutally sought to put down the Revolution. Indeed, many Syria specialists expressed amazement at the time that so many turned out to demand democracy because of the very brutal nature of the dictatorship – they thought the people would be too afraid!

Hama where the ‘Singer of the Revolution’ became famous was the location of a chilling massacre by Assad’s father when he put down an uprising there in 1982 which cost anything up to 40,000 lives. There remains much speculation about how many were killed in Hama in ’82 but one thing is certain, an enduring hunger for freedom and democracy is palpable, and was very evident on the main square that fateful night in late June 2011 when Ibrahim Kashoush sang his heart out.

Bashar, depart from here
You lost all your legitimacy
Depart depart, Bashar
Bashar, you are not one of us
Take Mahir (Basher’s brother) and depart from here
Depart depart, Bashar
Bashar, you are lying
You had bad speech
Freedom is very near
Depart depart, Bashar

Since the murder of singer Ibrahim Kashoush more than half a million Syrians have been killed mostly by Assad and his allies Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, as he showed he was and is prepared to literally wade through the blood of his fellow citizens to stay in power. Meanwhile, half the population of the country have been forced to flee their homes creating the biggest humanitarian crisis of the 21st Century.

Ronan L Tynan

Ronan L Tynan is currently producing a film documentary about the Syrian Revolution with Anne Daly. He is co-founder of the award winning Esperanza Productions.

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@RonanLTynan

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