The Dead Become Statistics in Syria

“Let us commemorate the dead with a minute’s silence.”

Those words make us stand up during the introduction speech of a ceremony. We remain silent, the silence seems to last forever, although in reality it is far less than a minute, and the voice of the speaker is heard once again – Thank you.

We sit down. The ceremony starts.

Peaceful protests, street protests… There is shooting. News spread: two people wounded in Homs; one of them severely injured… People have been wounded in Damascus as well, in Daraa, Hama… Fear surrounds us, and another dead person: First name, last name… We get frightened, we get sad, deep, we get to feel very deep pain… The funeral is broadcast on different television channels. Thousands participate in the funeral, wearing expressions of fury and protest on their faces. Teardrops fall from the faces of some, calls to extract responsibility are heard, to punish the murderer and his master …

Two explosions rattle the city of Aleppo. Aleppo turns into an ocean of fear… There is an Armenian among those killed: Viken.. Viken was a soldier in the Syrian army. Hundreds of Armenians attend the funeral.

Blood has been shed, reconciliation is therefore impossible. An opposition army is formed, opposition armies, and blood keeps being shed.. ”There are two deaths today, this and that… Eight deaths today, that person among them… The incidents develop from cannons and artillery to MIG and Sukhoy bomber jets.. The number of Syrian deaths is multiplied, funerals increase, the number of participants decrease.. The number of innocent Syrian-Armenian deaths passes a hundred, Vrej: the last one.. And the final one: Krikor…

The Syrian Arabs? Sunni, Shia, Ismaili. How many deaths do they have? Kurds? Islam, Yezidi. The total number of deaths exceeds one hundred fifty thousand, among them: Mohammad, Ali, Ismail, George and Aram… Alia, Fatima, Sama, Haykuhi…

And the number of names becomes greater, they become forgotten while their numbers increase, they turn into meaningless numbers… How many what? – Fifty sheep? Five kilos of oranges? Three dozen goats? Or hundreds of thousands of dead people who did not deserve this…

Deaths, deaths all around Syrian lands, number-numbers…

What happened? What has occurred? How did the Syrian, who did not even want to hurt a fly, get paid to become a murderer or, as some people believe, was transformed into one, and has killed, has slaughtered, when not so long ago it was hard for him or her to slaughter a sheep or even a chicken?

How much higher will the number of handicapped people go? The number of innocent deaths? And they are going to remain numbers, just numbers.. But weren’t they human beings? Abdo was a father of two, the children were going to go to university, serve the country, make their family proud… Armine was engaged and hoped to marry the man she loved, hoped to get pregnant, have children, bring them up to become responsible citizens… And find personal, impersonal happiness.. Ali was a doctor… Ismail had just recently defended his thesis and was to pass on his knowledge and findings to the upcoming generations… Ahmed, the elder… Hasan, the laborer… The beautiful Aisha… Samir, who had a broad chest… The intelligent Antranig… All of them… Names, which have been turned into numbers and even reading each and every one of their names, in front of the UN center in Washington D.C. recently, did not change a thing, even worse, the UN officially silenced the Syrian deaths… Even the counting…

Our deaths have become name-numbers, simply numbers…

Does any purpose or belief justify killing this many people?

Deaths that are added to the number of innocent deaths in the history of humanity and change nothing? Is it because these numbers are too small compared to the billions of Earth, or because they hold no meaning in the eternity of the universe? But are not the millions the sum of Ahmed, Alice, Johnny, Smith, Armine, Yokoyo? Is not the eternal universe the sum of the smallest atoms? And is not it clear that a human being can excavate the whole universe, or the the smallest particle that makes it up? And what is the meaning of the universe without human beings? Or would we also like to strip the HUMAN of his or her worth?

To witness all this, to be a witness and not lose your mind, because you feel, you reason that you are an abettor as well in a way, because you too lie on the same denominator with the dead and their killers, you are a human as well… And you only run in order to save your own skin.

Where is humanity? Where is the human in the image of God? We often accuse Islamic fanaticism of being inhuman. Why do we forget that the one who supports them, who provides them with weapons and power, is the civilized Christian, the one who professes the monotheism of another religion, the peaceful buddhist too…

Where is humanity? Or is the perception of the human we have had in mind for thousands of years wrong? Good, kind, conscious, soulful…. Is this all a huge SCAM? Is this the HUMAN? Robber-immoral-fratricide…

And now, HUMAN! Shut up for a second! Look at the dead who had first and last names just yesterday, and have become numbers today, they are silent as well, but they yell in your face; they ask you for justice…

Manuel Keshishian

Aleppo, 14 July 2014

Read this in Armenian.