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General News    H2'ed 10/14/16

Political Defamation campaign targets Rescue Workers in Syria

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James Le Mesurier, who helped the White Helmets get organized when they were untrained random neighborhood citizens trying to help save their neighbors, told the UK Independent recently that allegations of a clandestine Western schemes have become a common tactic among some who oppose the White Helmets. "This is a standard line of attack by the regime and trolls on the Internet. But there is nothing secret about what we do and where we get our funding. We are a non-profit organization and we try to raise between $20m to $25m ( 19m) annually for all the equipment, training, vehicles and protective clothing and salaries for the rescue teams. The members of the teams get around $150 a month each," He added, "We are funded by the Dutch, Danish, German and British governments. We also get individual donations. The London Fire Brigade, for instance, sent us some surplus equipment. The US funds the White Helmets through a separate organization. I think theirs come to about $23m."

A recent attack on the White Helmet published on the internet employs numerous pejorative terms defaming rescue workers. One laments that "The White Helmets have proven to be one of the most effective tools in the Syria Campaign's public relations arsenal. Apart from the group's own calls for a no-fly zone, the White Helmets have been at the center of the Syria Campaign's ongoing attack on the United Nations, which it accuses of illicit collusion with Assad." More defamatory nonsense!

White Helmet rescue workers are intensely focused on saving lives including their own, during rescue missions and none this observer has discussed the subject with even knew of the petition or the radar information request. They are focused on digging bombing victims from rubble and few if any have the time or ability to surf the internet. The observer is ignorant about the efficacy of the project, but if such radar information were available perhaps it could help some White Helmet rescuers save lives.

The same author complains that "Footage of the White Helmets saving civilians trapped in the rubble of buildings bombed by the Syrian government and its Russian ally has become ubiquitous in coverage of the crisis." That is a gross oversimplification but it's true that as an international symbol of courage under fire, the group has become a leading resource for journalists and human rights groups seeking information inside the war theater, from casualty figures to details on the kind of bombs that are falling.

The author spins another conspiracy theory claiming "The White Helmets' leadership is driven by a pro-interventionist agenda conceived by the Western governments and public relations groups that back them.

So where's the Beef? No probative evidence is offered his readers to support his claim and if there were any, what does it have to do with the nearly 4,000 Syrian citizens, 145 of whom have been killed in the line of duty while another nearly 450 have been wounded, while saving as many if not more than 65,000 Syrian citizens, many being their neighbors, families and friends? The White Helmets, whose current number of 62 women rescuers is expected to increase to approximately 500, over the next five months as training courses are completed, have one of the most dangerous commitments in this waging war as they focus on war victims and their own rescue team comrades often under fire. Not someone's possible political views. How many of us work for or with organizations achieving humanitarian results in Syria or elsewhere with someone in the group's administration, who perhaps they do not know or ever met, feels strongly that efforts should be made to end the slaughter? To attempt to smear White Helmet rescuers as a group for someone associated with the organization or who supports the organization's work but who may have expressed political views is defamatory and egregious.

One example of the massive use of pejorative language used to smear rescue workers, the author claims that "the bravado displayed by the White Helmets under Syrian government and Russian bombardment has captivated some of the most influential observers of the Syrian conflict." "Bravado" which in English means "a pretentious, swaggering display of courage" is not what White Helmets are doing in Aleppo, Idlib, or elsewhere. Neither are SARCS, the ICRC or other rescuers daily risking their lives to save innocent Syrian victims of this intensifying carnage.

Those who overstretch to defame for political purposes Syrian rescue workers such as the White Helmets civil defense workers risking their live in Syria to save others owe it to themselves and their readers to come to Syria and have a look of what's really going on with these humanitarian groups.

This observer invites them to spend just 72 hours on the scene observing, talking with, and getting to know the character of these amazing Samaritans. Perhaps as a result of this experience some who defame them may rethink some of their doubly egregious calumny and be better humanitarians for the experience.

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee ChildrenLebanon (MSRCL) which works to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. He is reachable c/o

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)

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