End the silence — Support Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk

Middle East
on 12 Comments

The case of Palestinian refugees is a prevailing topic when discussing Palestine and liberation.

However, it appears that when Palestinian refugees are being besieged and slaughtered in Syria there is a piercing silence towards them. Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus has been under siege for nearly 550 days and counting. Over 1,020 Palestinians have died in the camp by torture in regime jails, execution, and bombing. Each death atrocious, and each whimper echoed with silence. Of those that have died, over 200 and still counting have died as a direct result of the siege.

While there is a sentiment of lamenting what is happening to Palestinian refugees in Syria; when implored to take action, our shortcomings are coated under the emblem of complexity and controversy. Excusing this grotesque siege with proclamations “but remember, that the regime has supported Palestinian resistance”, or that there are “too many factors in this conflict for us to take a real stand.” As the regime pretended to extend an arm to Palestinians it slaughtered them with the other with impunity. There too were many factors in all oppressive situations, yet we have managed to take stand against them.

To muddle the situation simply in order to justify the oppression provides the oppressive regime with further opportunities to continue its crimes. As we attempt to rationalize the intentions of those oppressing the residents of the camp, we are doing so at the expense of the lives.

It seems that when we speak of the right of return and Palestinian refugees, most efforts are being directed towards a select privileged group. Perhaps it is due to their ability to have a platform to express their opinions and demands. Simultaneously, the voices of refugees enduring the imposed oppression in camps such as Lebanon or Syria are being muffled. This should cause us to reconsider our perspective, as Palestinians. Who are we fighting for if we silence those whose names we speak of?

When the Palestinians in Syria called upon the international community and placed their demands of ending the siege and creating a safe path in order to exit, they were faced with a silence, which continues to extend a year and a half on. In addition to the failure of the international community to show support, Palestinians themselves have failed to provide camaraderie for their brethren as they withstand the cruelty disseminated by the ongoing conflict.

Adjacent to our silence towards Syria and Yarmouk, despite the struggle and the blunt force of the conflict both Syrians and Palestinians inside the camp continue to express solidarity with struggles across the globe and Palestine.

There is a discrepancy between grieving a monstrosity and genuinely voicing active solidarity through attempting to place pressure on the government and those involved in the destruction of Yarmouk as well as other camps in Syria.

Once hailed as the capital of Palestinian refugees, Yarmouk lays half empty and besieged as the number of its inhabitants dwindles in the face of death. Prior to the conflict, Yarmouk had a population over 1,000,000 people of whom 148,500 were Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations. Today, only 18,000 remain in the camp struggling with the siege and the arduous task of remaining alive.

It is our own shortfalls, as part of the international community but more specifically as Palestinians that will be spoken of when this macabre siege ends. It is not the time to feel helpless, rather the moment to take an active stand against yet another injustice being committed against Palestinians.

Those in the camp have reached out to Palestinians outside and to the international community ad infinitum. If we continue to prolong our silence we are taking an active role in sustaining the siege; therefore we too are complicit in this injustice.

It is vital to not only expose the siege, but the culprits responsible for the ongoing monstrosities. The Palestinian Front for The Liberation of Palestine- General Command and others have assisted the Assad regime-the primary perpetuator- in besieging the camp. Until now, many efforts to remove the siege have been obstructed due to our inability to voice our support for the people in the camp and concurrently our ineptitude to divulge the criminals responsible.

To omit such facts, and to disregard the offenders in this scenario is to act under the banner of solidarity through neutrality. Essentially, we may break our silence on the siege yet remain complicit in validating the tyrannical oppression being endured by both Palestinians and Syrians through our denial of the perpetuators of this calamitous injustice.

As we memorize United Nations resolutions to promote the Palestinian cause, as we speak of the remnants of homes since the Nakba, as we reiterate stories passed down by our grandparents about their exile and their hopes to return, as we ululate resistance and efforts to reconstruct destroyed Palestinian villages, we must ask ourselves: what’s the point of fighting when many will return as ghosts?

About Mariam Barghouti

Mariam Barghouti is a Palestinian translator and journalist, and a student at Bir Zeit University.

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12 Responses

  1. Johnsen
    January 26, 2015, 10:52 am

    The Palestinians in Syria should be brought home immediately to Palestine and given available useful land or a business start. Israel must stop stealing land and begin giving back all they have taken.

    • Kay24
      January 28, 2015, 2:19 am

      Surely you realize that will never happen? Israel has a very, very, bad habit, of taking what belongs to others, and acting like it always been entitled to it. They are greedy, vicious, and always needy.

  2. amigo
    January 26, 2015, 11:37 am

    Palestinian refugees have been spread to so many locations it is very difficult to explain this to the ordinary ill informed European.They tend only to think of Gaza and secondly the West Bank.

    The plight of the Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk works well as a response to zionists who rattle on about the 200,000 dead Syrians.They usually have no idea what I am talking about.Must have something to do with self denial and disowning any zionist responsibility for this tragedy.

  3. realpalestine
    January 26, 2015, 7:04 pm

    This misinformation propoganda campaign about syria and yarmouk started with talal alyen. He has been trying to trick real palestinians into thinking that the only person fighting for them the syrian leader bashar al assad is an enemy. but most palestinians know that president bashar is the only friend of the palestinians and they are not fooled by the lies and propoganda campaign that talal has started. i hope one day everyone who has fallen for his propoganda will realize he is just a zionist liar who is against palestinians! palestine and syria are one!

  4. Bandolero
    January 26, 2015, 11:39 pm

    I feel deeply sorrow for Palestianians who are victims of the Zionist psychological warfare divisions and promote Israeli hasbara lies aimed to destroy their most steadfast supporter for more than half a century.

    In lieu of my own respinse, which I have given here to a similar hatchet job composed of zionist sponsored rumors against the resistance people of the Syrian state, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia and Iraqi militia defending a secular Syria with their blood against Israel and Israeli stooges – may they know or not know what job there are eally rdoing – some days ago, now I want just to post a link from Susan Dirgham here:

    Response to American activist Mariam Barghouti’s “End the silence – Support Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk”

    Mariam Barghouti posted a long text here, and almost in every sentence there are crucial hasbara lies to switch victims and perpetratots included, so it would take me hours to just refute all the hasbara here one by one. And if I did so, my comment would likely be filtered out by the spam filter, because it would be too long and have too many links. So, just one example:

    Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus has been under siege for nearly 550 days and counting.

    Click on ethe link, and you see that there is nothing behind it that says the Yarmouk refugee camp is under siege for nearly 550 days and counting, and more so not to assign blame who is responsible for that, because that would mean taking sides in conflict. However, the Syrian media say wahhabi terrorists reign in Yarmouk, terrorize remaining civilians, prevent the distribution of aid and videos not distributed by Israel, terrorists or their common friends seem to prove that.

    And a second example:

    It is vital to not only expose the siege, but the culprits responsible for the ongoing monstrosities. The Palestinian Front for The Liberation of Palestine- General Command and others have assisted the Assad regime-the primary perpetuator- in besieging the camp.

    In reality, besides the PFLP-GC, among others, the PFLP, the PLO, Hamas (though sectarian reasons made it take Hamas long to come to this), support the Syrian government with public statements in how they are dealing with the terrorist problem in Yarmouk camp. Those, who support the terrorists with false statements and other propaganda lies are Israel, Al Qaeda, and all their stooges in the West and the GCC.

    Sorry for being this blunt, but as I said, I feel deeply sorrow for Palestianians who are victims of the Zionist psychological warfare divisions and promote Israeli hasbara lies aimed to destroy their most steadfast supporter for more than half a century.

    • Walid
      January 27, 2015, 2:32 am

      Bandolero, the truth lies somewhere between the 2 versions of this story; the camp’s Palestinian leadership screwed up when it welcomed-in the rebels. In a nutshell, it wagered on the wrong horse and the Syrian regime made all the camp dwellers pay heavily and with a vengeance for it. It wasn’t without cause that after all these years Hamas’ Big Boss packed-up and moved from Damascus to a 5-star Doha hotel as a guest of the Qatari government, that incidently was backing the rebels. Now that Qatar is begining to wash its hands of the Syrian conflict, Khaled Meshaal as well as 7 other high ranking Hamas leaders that had taken refuge in Doha have been asked to move out of the country.

      Another truth is the never-ending competition for the hearts of the camp dwellers by the different Palestinian political factions that you mentioned and not only at Yarmouk but at every other Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Sadly, innocent Palestinian refugees are caught in these messes.

      Same shit as at Yarmouk happened in Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared refugee camp that had become a haven for Islamic fundamentalists that were using the camp as a base of criminal operations because of the immunity from Lebanese authority granted to Palestinian camps in that country. After the cold-blooded throat-slitting of a dozen sleeping soldiers in their tent by the Islamist terrorists and their taking refuge the camp, the Lebanese army over a period of months levelled the camp and wiped it clean of the fundies but a cost of 160 Lebanese soldiers’ lives and having made 40,000 Palestinian refugees homeless yet one more time and for some, it was their 4th time. Syria repeated the levelling of Bared at Yarmouk and today, it’s not known how many of the remaining 18,000 residents of Yarmouk are innocent Palestinian civilians and how many are terrorist rebels and Syria isn’t bothering to make the distinction.

      It started with with Nahr al-Bared, then to Yarmouk and the next big battle will most probably be at Ain el Helweh in Lebanon, a camp with over 100,000 Palestinians with its own paramilitary forces armed to the teeth of different political factions and currently hiding Islamist terrorists wanted by the Lebanese law.

      Of course, all this plays perfectly in the Zionists’ plans and really big losers are the innocent Palestinian refugees.

  5. Bandolero
    January 27, 2015, 2:14 am

    I can’t hold back to write another comment here.

    This article here presenting false allegations against the Syrian people I find so outragous, because it serves the hatred fueling the caused the slaughter of tens of thousands of people in Syria. I see it as the moral equivalent of German government papers in the 30s pushng propaganda lies like “how Polish jews raped and killed German girls” in Poland. Back then lot’s of innocent jewish and Polish people were killed in Germany and Poland due to the hatred stirred up by such propaganda lies, and so it is today in Syria.

    What’s especially damaging here is that unlike propaganda rackets well-known to serve the interests of the Zionist war lobby like AI and HuffPo Mondo Weiss really has otherwise some credibility among people opposed to the Zionist war lobby.

    When Mariam Barghouti writes that “there is a sentiment of lamenting what is happening to Palestinian refugees in Syria” it’s absolutely not true. Many Palestinian refugees fight side by side with the Syrian army in Brigades known as Quds-Briagdes or PFLP-GC to liberate their refugee homes in Syria from the scourge of Israeli-backed terrorism, and it’s well-known. Israel, however, fights with her airforce on the other side, that side, what Mariam Barghouti supports with her lies, namely Al Qaeda and other head-chopping wahhabi terrorists trying to conquer Damascus, bombing Syrian soldiers and their Palestinian comrades fighting against the Israeli-sponsored terrorism alike.

    When Mariam Barghouti writes that “our shortcomings are coated under the emblem of complexity and controversy” it’s not true neither. Her comrade in activism, the neocon Michael Weiss, formerly known to do war planning against Syria in the service of the Henry Jackson Society, and now known for working for the Russian Zionist oligarch Khodorkovsky for example, published already in 2013 a similar propaganda piece titled: Assad’s terror-famine. Shortly after that Brooklyn Middleton from Israel published a similar story in the Saudi wahhabi propaganda racket Al Arabiya titled “Assad’s latest war crime hits Yarmouk refugee camp.” And Eric Reidy from New York also published a similar piece in the Qatari-wahhabi propaganda racket “Al Jazeera” titled “Starving to death in Syria’s Yarmouk camp.” And so on and so forth. The murderous zionist-wahhabi propaganda lies of Syria starving Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk were published over all Zionist and Wahhabi major mass media. Just WINEP/AIPACs Aaron Y. Zelin seems to have missed the zionist propaganda memo when he tweeted: Yarmouk update: Nusra’s (the wahhabi head-choppers also called Al Qaeda) apparent return complicates UNRWA’s hopes for food program ‏.

    Ooops. So Al Qaeda complicates UNRWA’s delivery of food in the Yarmouk camp? Mariam Barghouti didn’t say a word of Al Qaeda being in the Yarmouk camp. But if Mariam Barghouti would have been out to inform people in a balanced way, how could she have missed this? What Mariam Barghouti doesn’t look like an attempt to inform people in a balanced way, it looks like a hacthet job designed to fuel hatred to make Palestinians kill their Syrian hosts and neighbors, thereby ultimately serving noone except Israel. And at the same time Israel is working hard to use it’s airforce to kill the very same Syrians and true friends of Syria, like Hezbollah, IRGC, or PFLP-GC.

    It’s a shame.

  6. Rusty Pipes
    January 27, 2015, 5:00 pm

    “It is vital to not only expose the siege, but the culprits responsible for the ongoing monstrosities.”: the Takfiri insurgents (and the Palestinian factions which enabled them) who took over Palestinian refugee camps which had been trying to remain neutral.

    “Prior to the conflict, Yarmouk had a population over 1,000,000 people of whom 148,500 were Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations. Today, only 18,000 remain in the camp struggling with the siege and the arduous task of remaining alive.”

    Prior to the conflict, around 15% of Syrians strongly opposed the Syrian Government and around 30% supported it. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the violent insurgents, most of the other Syrians who had been dissatisfied with the Syrian Government for a variety of reasons now support its leadership and resent outside efforts to impose solutions on their country. In 2014, as Ukraine and Egypt were trying to drum up higher turnouts for their elections, Syria had to keep their polls open longer to accommodate the huge crowds wanting to vote — with an overwhelming majority of those votes going to Assad. The Takfiris who took over Yarmouk have managed to drive out the majority of Palestinians who lived there. The small percentage of those remaining are either part of the Takfiri friends and family plan or they are Palestinian civilians with no other options outside the camp.

    War is hell.

  7. Keith
    January 27, 2015, 5:42 pm

    I find it curious that yet another article appears on Mondoweiss claiming that the situation in the Yarmouk refugee camp is all or mostly Assad’s fault. The failure to discuss the consequences of the imperial destabilization campaign against Assad has obvious implications. What next, ISIS and the Takfiris as freedom fighters? This recurring de facto support for imperial objectives is troubling. As to the facts of the matter, I have nothing to add to the several comments already made which demonstrate the astonishing bias of the author.

    • Walid
      January 28, 2015, 3:34 am

      “I find it curious that yet another article appears on Mondoweiss claiming that the situation in the Yarmouk refugee camp is all or mostly Assad’s fault. ” (Keith)

      This is the opposite of what you read on the Moonies’ blog that believes that Syria has never done anything wrong and all its woes are to be blamed on the imperialists. Both pro and anti-Syria versions have to be blended to come up with something closely resembling the truth starting with “no smoke without fire” and had the regime played straight with its people in the first place, the imperialists in attempting to break up Syria would have ended up pissing in the wind.

  8. Walid
    January 28, 2015, 1:37 am

    “What next, ISIS and the Takfiris as freedom fighters? ” (Keith)

    Keep watching what happens with Turkey now that the Kurds have routed ISIS in Kobane. Erdogan is furious and is saying he will not tolerate a Kurdish autonomous zone in Syria as the one in Iraq. Now the pressure is on the Americans to send in troops to train the “rebels” to fight Assad. Rather than having rounds of training in Turkey and Jordan as planned, I suspect the American trainers will go straight to Syria to do their work there directly. The tide is starting to turn on ISIS in Iraq and Syria and Western and Gulf countries aren’t very happy with this prospect. The US-led coalition hitting an ISIS pickup truck every 3 or 4 days is theatrics. And the Syrian regime is no angel in all this mess; it wasn’t that long ago that Syria was party to the inglorious American renditions program.

  9. Scandipope
    May 4, 2015, 4:21 am

    Of course, all the conspiracy theories in the world about Assad being a target of ‘Imperialist destabilization campaigns’ AND Taqfiris AND Zionists (I suspect the Freemasons or the illuminati will soon make their debut as well…)

    Can’t explain a simple fact: A few years ago Assad ruled all of Syria, and his army of hundreds of tanks and thousands of APCs was one of the strongest in the region.

    Today he’s a warlord among several, and only in control of parts of Syria. His army and air force, which once had a formidable arsenal of WMDs has been reduced to throwing primitive barrel bombs and containers of industrial cyanide out of the back of old Russian helicopters. Something you’d imagine some crackpot African dictator ruling an impoverished country may do.

    In fact if it wasn’t for the constant influx of Russian and Iranian arms, money and foreign volunteers, it’s doubtful whether Assad would have been in control of any of Syria today.

    A reversal of fortune like that, would have been impossible, if not a significant majority of the population were strongly opposed to his rule.

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