Nearly two years since the Syrian uprising started in March 2011, the conflict has escalated into a full-fledged civil war. A year ago the ongoing slaughter of apparently peaceful demonstrators and civilians was shown to the world uncensored via traditional media and social media.
The massacre of tens of thousands of people by the Syrian regime in the city of Hama in 1982 was well known, but its coverage was "censored" and what could have been officially labeled as crimes against humanity went unpunished.
It was been virtually impossible for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to repeat his father's effective cover-up of genocide of Syrians 30 years ago. The access to the Internet with sites like Twitter and Facebook has shown to the world the indiscriminate killing of his citizens despite the limited access of the press (and in other cases the murder of journalists).
As a journalist, I intended to write a piece a year ago about Syrian people living in Houston who could tell the stories of relatives or friends who were able to communicate the atrocities they were facing back in their homeland.
There were a numbers of them to approach especially in the southwest part of town or the suburbs where many of them reside. There were schools teachers, mechanics, small business owners, college students, etc. I called, emailed and even spoke to a few of them, but basically all refused to speak to me and neither replied emails or called back.
A few of them just referred me to web sites or Facebook pages that were put up decrying the violence against Syrians or in protest of the Syrian government. I sent a message trying to reach those hosting those sites or pages, but never got a response.
I wondered why these people were unwilling to communicate with me and perhaps help further exposed Al-Assad's bloody crackdown on its citizens through family and friends living in the U.S.
"They're afraid of talking to you," finally said one of my contacts who asked to remain anonymous. "If you write about any Syrians in Houston speaking against Al-Assads and revealing anything negative about the government, worse things can happen for their loved ones."
"Sam" (not his real name) suggested the government can track down any family and friends of those average folks speaking to the press in the U.S. So writing a story on that angle had to be postponed indefinitely.
A year later, the uneven confrontations has turned literally into a civil war, and it's not just the ruthless crackdown of a cruel dictator. The once peaceful demonstrators, who were slaughtered and labeled "terrorists," have morphed into the Free Syrian Army, former soldiers and armed rebels who won't stop until Assad is gone.
The international rogue support for Syria's government of countries like China and Russia has waned slowly, and the end of a decades's long oppressing regime is coming to an end.