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Stop the Killing

June 1, 2012

I can’t pretend to know much about what’s going on in Houla, Syria, but when lovely Potty Mummy asked me to join in and write something about the situation, in order to try and focus as much attention as possible on what is going on there, I was very pleased to join in. Of course my mite, written from comfy Dulwich where my most pressing concern is where to find the right shade of organza present bags to match the bridesmaids’ dresses for my wedding – happening in 22 days time – is probably not going to tip the balance as far as concerted international action goes. But you never know. Potty Mummy’s own post is called the Tipping Point and, with any luck, we bloggers can make a difference.

So, diverting my attention from the extraordinary number of wedding accoutrement websites out there, we turn to the massacre. A week ago, 49 children and 34 women were killed in Houla. Most of them had stab wounds or had been shot, meaning their attackers got very close to them. But who were the attackers? Everyone thinks they know the answer. Yet no one is taking responsibility. The Syrian government blames ‘terrorists’.

It’s another bloodstained chapter in a 14-month long disaster, which has seen civilians attacked indiscriminately, and journalists targeted as well. Marie Colvin, the hugely respected foreign correspondent, was killed in Homs (Houla is in the Homs province of Syria) and the bombing there was so extreme that her loved ones could not even reclaim her body for days. I actually started my journalistic career on the Telegraph foreign desk, as a researcher of sorts (my main job was to be taken out to lunch by correspondents) where I knew Marie’s dashing first husband. The stories of her coolness under fire became legendary. She died trying to bring the full horror of the situation in Homs to the world’s attention. Let’s not make her death be in vain.

I think it’s fair to say the situation is out of control. Action needs to be taken, if we don’t want to see the slaughter of more innocents. If you’re a twitter user, look out for and use the hashtags #Syria, #StopKilling and #TippingPoint, or sign the AVAAZ or Save the Children petitions.

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