Life During WartimeSubmitted by Peace Gold Love on Mon, 07/23/2012 - 10:11
by JANINE DI GIOVANNI | July 22, 2012
WHAT does it feel like when a war begins? When does life as you know it implode? How do you know when it is time to pack up your home and your family and leave your country? Or if you decide not to, why?
For ordinary people, war starts with a jolt: one day you are busy with dentist appointments or arranging ballet lessons for your daughter, and then the curtain drops. One moment the daily routine grinds on; A.T.M.’s work and cellphones function. Then, suddenly, everything stops.
Barricades go up. Soldiers are recruited and neighbors work to form their own defense. Ministers are assassinated and the country falls into chaos. Fathers disappear. The banks close and money and culture and life as people knew it vanishes. In Damascus, this moment has come.
I spent nearly two weeks in Syria earlier this month; I was privileged — and lucky — to get a visa because there is a near-total media blackout. The fear that rises with civil war was palpable. Car bombs exploded in the streets; there was a shootout in a television station. The week after I was in Damascus, the Red Cross declared the 17-month uprising a civil war, which means that international human rights law applies throughout the country. More essentially it means that Syrians can’t any longer deny, as some did, that their country is at war and that the life they’ve lived is rapidly coming to an end.