Should the British government be ashamed of its treatment of Syria?

‘They could have done so, so much more’

Whether you’ve seen it on the news, or scrolled through Twitter reading the pleas of those people who are trapped, you’ve probably heard about what’s going on in Aleppo. This week Syrian President Assad’s forces officially took control of the city. The Syrian army is reportedly going from house to house, killing civilians on the spot. We don’t know the numbers massacred for certain, but we do know that thousands are still trapped within the city limits at the hands of the army.

We’re watching this disaster unfurl in a torrent of social media posts with Syrians saying their last goodbyes via Twitter. They’re pleading for help from everyone and anyone, meeting mixed opinions internationally. In the UK there have been countless reports condemning British MPs, pushing them to claim some of the blame for the events unfolding in Syria.

In 2013, the British Government voted against military intervention against the Assad regime. This has become a much debated issue, with many arguing we have not done enough to help Syria’s victims – especially around London. We wanted to see if these reports were actually based upon the concerns of the public and if these debates were as strong as they’re made out to be.

Damien, 25

“It’s difficult to say if the government should have done more. You can say yes, but you’ve got to weigh it up: If we are sending lots of help to Syria, you’ve got to think of the repercussions back here. If we are sending so much help somewhere else, we are going to suffer ourselves. Obviously we are not going to suffer, but I think that’s why not enough was done. It’s down to selfishness because in our country we have everything we want so we are sort of ignorant to it.”

Samuel, 26

“I don’t think you can prevent things like that from happening. If you try and intervene you may make the situations worse, so we can do all sorts of things but it doesn’t actually prevent anything from happening.”

Tom, 31

“Basically the government could have done so much more. To be honest I’m ill informed fundamentally. I’ve kind of steered clear of reading too much about it because it seems we’re all so fucking powerless and there’s so much that can be done.

“The issue with all the social media coverage is that people can you know, re-tweet stuff saying they’re outraged and that’s part of the problem really. That makes people feel better and less guilty, but nothing changes.”

Seb, 24

“A lot of the problems come from democracy. I was watching the UN call their emergency meeting what stuck out the most was that they have been damning it – they have been condemning it as a criminal act. But it’s actually getting anything done which is the difficulty and how any country can stop another country without further war.

“I don’t think any global leader really has helped the case. We’ve seen this time and time again in other countries.”

Michael, 45

“I look at it and I think that the government should have gone in. I also look at it and think it’s far more complicated, because obviously you’ve got different countries with different agendas. You’ve got Russia who are playing the power game, so there is far more going on than we know.

“We are in relative safety, celebrating Christmas and going about our business, and there are people who have nowhere to live and nothing to eat.”

Leo, 23

“Of course the government can do more. They have the potential to decrease the civilian deaths by targeting the people they actually need to target rather than targeting a whole area, which is allowing innocent lives being lost, civilians’ lives being lost, children dying, especially those who we have heard about on social media and in the news. It’s really terrible. There are a lot of changes that can be done to stop people’s suffering. It’s not too late to make a change – it’s never too late. People can always deal with things differently.”

Caroline, 34

“I certainly feel someone should be doing a lot more about the situation because everything I read about it is absolutely shocking and they obviously don’t have the resources to prevent what’s happening themselves.”