Read this story for free.
To continue reading without a subscription, please create a New Yorker account.
GoogleE-mail
Or, see our 
Already have an account? Sign in
Subscribe
Daily Comment
The Arab Winter
By Philip Gourevitch
December 28, 2011
In Syria, over the past nine months, agents of President Bashar al-Assad’s security apparatus have killed more than five thousand citizens, according to the United Nations. That’s an average of about twenty citizens a day since March, when peaceful demonstrators took to the streets to protest the Assad family’s forty-year dictatorship and the slaughter began. Videos uploaded to the Internet at the time showed throngs of defenseless men, women, and children, many of them waving olive branches, scattered by gunfire. Some videos showed Assad’s men (there are seventeen distinct security forces at his service) hunting down stragglers; other videos showed fallen bodies, bleeding and dead; and later, when people gathered to bury those bodies, there were more videos, of Assad’s forces opening fire on the funerals. There is no independent press in Syria, and foreign reporters are rarely allowed in, but as the protests and the crackdown continued through the summer and fall, the videos kept coming, denying the state the power it gets from invisibility. Shot on cell phones, the clips convey the terrifying pandemonium in the streets and linger insistently on its aftermath: a relentless array of cadavers—heads and torsos punctured, ripped, smashed, and spilling—memorialized in forensic close-up.
You’ve read your last complimentary article this month. Subscribe Now. If you're already a subscriber sign in.
Philip Gourevitch has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker since 1995 and a staff writer since 1997.
More:
Arab League
Bashar Al-Assad
Libya
Syria
The Daily
Sign up for our daily newsletter and get the best of The New Yorker in your in-box.
Enter your e-mail address


By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement and Privacy Policy & Cookie Statement.
Subscribe for unlimited access, plus get a free tote.
Subscribe Cancel anytime.
NewsBooks & CultureFiction & PoetryHumor & Cartoons​Magazine​Crossword​Video​Podcasts​Archive​Goings On
Customer CareShop The New YorkerBuy Covers and CartoonsCondé Nast StoreDigital Access​Newsletters​Jigsaw PuzzleRSSSite Map
About​Careers​Contact​F.A.Q.​Media KitPressAccessibility HelpCondé Nast Spotlight
© 2021 Condé Nast. All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement and Your California Privacy Rights. The New Yorker may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. Ad Choices