Syrians remember horrors of 1982 Hama massacre 40 years on
Up to 40,000 Syrian civilians were killed during the massacre after resistance to the regime of Hafez al-Assad, the father of current President Bashar al-Assad, grew and an Islamist insurgency targeted military and government figures, leading to a government military attack on the city.
During the attack, Assad regime forces carried out a series of mass executions of men, women and children under the pretext that Muslim Brotherhood militants were present in the city.
The total death toll remains unknown with estimates of civilian casualties ranging from 5,000 to 40,000.
At least 18,000 civilians remain missing, Syrian Network for Human Rights Chairman Fadel Abdul Ghany told The New Arab.
"The Assad regime used its media machine to deny the death toll, and portrayed [the victims] as Islamist militants," Abdul Ghany - who is from Hama - tweeted.
The city was bombarded with various types of weapons, and then Assad's forces entered the city and killed more than 40 thousand civilians and arrested more than 100 thousand people, and there are more than 15 thousand missing.#Syria #Hama_massacre #Hama #مجزرة_حماة pic.twitter.com/TDaUc9Crx1— Fared Al Mahlool (@FARED_ALHOR) February 2, 2022
Some survivors of the siege recounted the horrors of the massacre to Amnesty International.
Survivor Maha Mousa said her uncle was killed and returned to his family with his eyes and fingernails missing, after being detained for being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood - a charge which he denied.
Abdul Ghany said that Hafez al-Assad set a precedent for his family to run Syria like a "family farm" which only they could gain from, at the expense of the Syrian people.
The late Syrian dictator ruled Syria with an iron fist after coming to power in 1970 and was succeeded by his son Bashar in 2000.
"The forgiveness from western countries and the international communities... and the lack of accountability... was a green-light for [Bashar] al-Assad to try to copy this experience after March 2011," Abdul Ghany told The New Arab, referencing the Assad regime's brutal suppression of pro-democracy protests, which led to the country's ongoing civil war.
They besieged civilians, cut off everything from them, and then shed the blood of more than 40 thousand of them for a whole month, amid absolute silence from the world. 41 years since the #Hama_massacre the criminality of the Assad family has not ended. pic.twitter.com/krUdGpqdsC— Ibrahim Alsaleh | أبو ريَّان آل الشيوخ (@Reyyan_arslan88) February 2, 2022
On social media many Syrians agreed, including one Twitter user who said that decades after the massacre, "the criminality of the Assad family has not ended".
At least 500,000 people have died and millions more have been displaced during the conflict which began in Syria in 2011, mostly as a result of Assad regime bombardment of civilian areas.