This week, Syria’s official news agency sent out a tweet encouraging Syrian Twitter users to post their favourite summer photos, tagging them with the hashtag #SummerinSyria.
They must have been forgetting that almost no one is having an enjoyable summer in Syria, where a 4-year-old civil war has displaced 11.5 million people and killed as many as 320,000 people. The responses they received were unsurprisingly grim, reports Buzzfeed’s Shyamantha Asokan.
The Syrian Arab News Agency was going for a “Hamptons in the Summer” vibe hoped to engender, but the reality of the season is bleak. Every summer in Syria has been miserable since 2011, when President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests, sparking a violent conflict with no resolution in sight.
As violence in Syria has escalated over the past four years, more than half of the nation’s citizens have been displaced, Buzzfeed reports. The Syrian civil war is the biggest contributor to the current global refugee crisis, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.
So, those living inside Syria, those exiled from their country and international critics of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not take kindly to the #SummerinSyria hashtag. The pictures they responded with were anything but cheerful.
Here are some examples:
Even the U.S. embassy in Syria, which suspended operations in early 2012 as the conflict intensified, got involved with the hashtag.
With all of the horror and misery in Syria, it’s hard to imagine that anyone is is having an enjoyable “Syrian summer.” Unless, of course, you take a look at President Bashar al-Assad’s Instagram account.
Although the account has not been updated in seven weeks, it regularly displays cheerful photos of the President ruling over what is made to look like a functional and democratic nation.
Assad and his wife Asma, who Vogue once called “A Rose in the Desert,” are all smiles in their Instagram photos, portraying a high quality of life that is now basically unknown to the citizens of Syria.
Assad, a man who’s repeatedly provoked the international community, has over 37,000 Instagram followers and follows no one. He probably isn’t having a pleasant summer either, as a string of battlefield defeats, manpower shortages, and regime in-fighting have the Syrian president in his weakest position in years.
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