Stop Killing Syrian Children Protest
On Friday, when James asked me what I wanted to do on our rare weekend off as a family, I replied, “Actually, I’d like to go to a protest on Sunday.” I explained that a friend of ours had sent us an invitation on Facebook to attend the Stop Killing Syrian Children protest at the Syrian Embassy and I really wanted to go.
To my surprise, James didn’t even bat an eyelid before he said, “Okay.”
I’m not an activist. The last time I went to a protest was in University for Take Back the Night. I sign petitions and I make donations, but I generally don’t turn up anywhere holding a placard.
But this time, as soon as I heard about the event, organised by journalist Louise Tickle, I had to show my support. Like many people who have been sickened by the stories of senseless murder in Houla, I’ve felt completely powerless to do anything meaningful that would express my disgust and sadness. At least going to the protest would be doing something.
The reason I felt so strongly about going is that they are killing children the same age as my daughter, children who have no political opinion, no care about who is in power. As a mother, I dream about what the future will hold for my daughter. I also have nightmares about the same topic. These murdered children in Syria lived their mothers’ worst nightmares.
Just to be clear: Assad’s people tied up babies’ and toddlers’ hands and then slit their throats. That’s why I had to go today. Because I can’t understand how anyone could order for that to happen or how anybody could then follow that order. And I also don’t understand why other countries aren’t doing anything about it.
As we approached the Syrian Embassy, I suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to cry. Perhaps one of the downsides of being such a creative person is that I have an incredibly active imagination. And as a mother, every child becomes my own child. The images from Houla have been burned into my mind and my imagination has cruelly filled in the rest.
Upon arrival, each child at the protest was given a rose and a name on a sheet of paper – the name of one of the 49 children murdered at Houla. The name on Baby’s paper was Rasha Aref Al-Siad. I don’t know much about Rasha. I think she may have been 5 years old and the sister of a young boy who survived the attack by pretending he was dead, but I’m not sure. If you know anything more about her, please do let me know.
Louise read out the names of the 49 slain and we sang “Rock-a-bye, baby” four times to the souls of the children. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house at this point. I had tears pouring down my face, while Baby grabbed playfully at the placards that read “Assad: Stop Killing Children”.
The original idea was for each of the children at the protest to go across the road and place a rose in front of the embassy, but the police on site wouldn’t allow it. Instead, we threaded our roses through the barriers so that the staff remaining in the embassy would see them when looking out the windows. I had brought a dozen roses with me, so two Iranian women helped me thread them through.
As I finish writing this, I can hear Baby waking up from her afternoon nap downstairs. First come the cries as she wipes sleep from her eyes, followed by the giggles as daddy takes her out of her cot and covers her in kisses. My heart feels torn in two as I enjoy the sound of her while thinking about the cries of the children of Houla and the victims of other atrocities being committed in Syria. I am not a religious person, but I will be keeping all the Syrian mothers, fathers and children in my thoughts, hoping that the help they need to survive comes soon.
If you want to protest, there are people opposite the Syrian Embassy every weekend. You can also keep an eye on the Stop Killing Children Facebook page for future planned protests or follow the Twitter hashtag #stopkillingSyrianchildren.
Thank you again to Louise Tickle for organising this important event.