hama

Hama Massacre | World History | Free PDF Download

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BACKGROUND

  • The Ba’ath Party of Syria, which advocated the ideologies of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism had clashed with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with a Sunni Islamist ideology, since 1940.
  • The two groups were opposed in important ways. The Ba’ath party was nominally secular, nationalist. The Muslim Brotherhood, like other Islamist groups, saw nationalism as un-Islamic and religion as inseparable from politics and government.
  • Most Ba’ath party members were from humble, obscure backgrounds and favored radical economic policies, while Sunni Muslims had dominated the souqs and landed power of Syria, and tended to view government

BACKGROUND

  • The first full-scale clash between the two occurred shortly after the 1963 coup, in which the Ba’ath party first gained power in Syria. In April 1964 riots broke out in Hama, where Muslim insurgents put up “roadblocks, stockpiled food and weapons, ransacked wine shops
  • Tanks were brought in to crush the rebellion and 70 members of the Muslim Brotherhood died, with many others wounded or captured, and still more disappearing underground.
  • After the clashes in Hama, the situation periodically erupted into clashes between the government and various Islamic sections. In July 1980, membership in the Muslim Brotherhood made a capital offense.

 BACKGROUND

  • Throughout the first years of the 1980s the Muslim Brotherhood and various other Islamist factions staged hitand-run and bomb attacks against the government and its officials, including a nearly successful attempt to assassinate President Hafez al-Assad on 26 June 1980.
  • Surviving with only light injuries, al-Assad’s revenge was swift and merciless: only hours later a large number of imprisoned Islamists were executed in their cells in Tadmor Prison by units loyal to the President’s brother Rifaat al-Assad..
  • In an incident in 1981, over 300 residents of Hama were killed by security forces, in a revenge attack for an Islamist terror incident.

GOVERNMENT MEASURES

  • Before the attack, the Syrian government called for the city’s surrender and warned that anyone remaining in the city would be considered a rebel. Besieged by 12,000 troops, the fighting in Hama lasted for three weeks – the first week in regaining control of the town,” and the last two “in hunting down the insurgents.
  • According to Amnesty International, the Syrian military bombed the old city center from the air to facilitate the entry of infantry and tanks through the narrow streets; buildings were demolished by tanks during the first four days of fighting. Large parts of the old city were destroyed.
  • Torture and mass executions of suspected rebel sympathizers ensued, killing many thousands over several weeks.

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MASSACRE

  • Initial diplomatic reports from western governments in 1982 had stated that 1000 were killed in the fighting. Subsequent estimates of casualties varied from 7,000 to 40,000 people killed, including about 1,000 soldiers.
  • The president’s brother Rifaat reportedly boasted of killing 38,000 people.Amnesty International initially estimated the death toll was between 10,000 and 25,000.
  • Reports by Syrian Human Rights Committee claimed “over 25,000“ or between 30,000 and 40,000 people were killed.
  • In addition to the 15,000 missing who have not been found to this day, and the 100,000 expelled

AFTERMATH

    • After the Hama uprising, the Islamist insurrection was broken, and the Brotherhood has since operated in exile while other factions surrendered or slipped into hiding.
    • Government attitudes in Syria hardened considerably during the uprising, and Assad would rely more on repression than on political tactics for the remainder of his rule, although an economic liberalization began in the 1990s.
  • Most members of the rebel groups fled the country or remained in exile, mainly in Jordan and Iraq, while others would make their way to the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood—the largest opposition group—split into two factions, after giving up on armed struggle

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