Feature

Syria: Where burial has become a luxury

For the people of Homs, even simple ceremonies are often impossible.

Yazan al-HomsySyriaDeeply.org

I still remember the day in April 2011 when tens of thousands of men and youths in the city of Homs turned out for the funeral of a dozen rebel martyrs, said Yazan al-Homsy. That was in the early days of the Syrian revolution—before it became a “luxury” to be able simply to bury your dead in a proper grave. There are no such processions today. They ceased abruptly after one was infiltrated by shabiha—gunmen loyal to Assad. In the subsequent bloodbath 17 mourners died and many more just disappeared. “Today, funerals can only include two attendees: one family member and a grave digger.” For the people of the 14 besieged neighborhoods of Homs, who’ve faced 16 months of bombardment and sniper attacks, even simple ceremonies are often impossible. With the death toll increasing every day, the city has run out of burial plots. Cemeteries were set up in mosque yards, and then in public parks. Now that those spaces are full, the dead are buried near people’s homes, or wherever they fall. In fact, those now living under siege worry that they might not get buried at all. “They now say, ‘Lucky are those who died before. At least they had someone to give them a proper burial and mark their graves.’”

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