by Paul Conroy (click link source for Facebook page)
The Butcher of Homs
Last Tuesday I was asked to join a panel discussion at the House of Commons. I readily agreed as it was to screen Jonathan Miller’s fantastic and ground breaking film ‘Syria’s Torture Machine. One of the most insightful and inspiring pieces of filmmaking I have seen in many years.
The event was hosted by Anne Clywd MP with representatives from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, a Syrian torture victim, a representative from the Russian federation and me.
After an introductory round of speeches we watched Jonathan’s superb film and the panel then opened for answers. By this time I had moved back to the audience as my leg injuries were not ideal for sitting up front. Still wishing to take part in the panel discussion and perhaps do a little Q&A I asked if I could have a microphone. My colleague asked one of those media study, large red glasses and tight jeans assistant producer types if this was possible “It’s not going to happen” he was told in a rather bolshie and self-important way. “I think you will find he’s doing it anyway” my colleague Miles Amoore from the Sunday Time grinned.
The point in this is that all week I had been trying, unsuccessfully, to get a comment from the Russians regarding arms supplies to Syria. Now, right there in front of me, was a real life, in the flesh card carrying representative of the Russian federation and a Channel 4 work placement fruit bat wouldn’t give me a microphone.
I was reduced to putting up my hand and rather grumpily waiting my turn. In the event the wonderful Ann Clywd chairing the proceedings saw my rather desperate outstretched hand, similar to that of a child at school who finds he miraculously knows the answer to a question and is desperate not to go unnoticed.
Given that I had had a large piece of Russian shrapnel removed from me a few days previously I was eager to ask about the Russians continued supply of arms to Syria. I started by reminding him that it was a piece of a Russian made shell that had just been removed from my back. He looked suitably embarrassed but said nothing.
My main question I said was a three part yes or no question which he agreed to have a pop at
Q Is it true that Russia is supplying arms and heavy artillery munitions to Syria
Q. Are you are aware that these weapons and munitions are being used against civilians
Q. Knowing this will Russia stop selling weapons and heavy munitions to Syria
A. No (brief gasp from me and others) if we don’t do it somebody else will.
Now excuse me but that seems like an answer that a crack dealer would resort to when caught outside of a primary school with a huge bag of class A drugs he has been peddling to pre-teens, not the answer of a representative of one of the most powerful (and dangerous) nations on the planet.
So there we have it, direct from the horse’s mouth. Vladimir Putin ‘The Butcher of Homs’ as he so fondly known on the streets of Babr Amr is indeed supplying the Assad regime weapons, munitions and who know what else on the solid conviction that ‘If they don’t sell it someone else will’.
It’s little wonder we live on such a peaceful and harmonious planet.