The faces of revolution
The Daily Telegraph / Michael Burleigh

This was the week when the almost anonymous bloody conflict in Syria suddenly found a face, becoming ''real’’ to most of us for the first time. Footage of the battered and mutiliated body of a 13-year-old boy, Hamza al-Khatib, made its way onto YouTube. It is claimed that his secret police tormentors physically emasculated him at some point, before he was shot dead.

While nothing should surprise us about such a brutal regime – slashing victims with scalpels, stitching up the wounds, and then beating the scar tissue at 10-minute intervals is a Syrian speciality – torturing a 13-year-old represents a new low. Even the British-educated ophthalmologist Bahar al–Assad, who presides over Syria, affected crocodile tears, and commiserated with Hamza’s parents in a meeting they could not refuse. ''We are all Hamza al-Khatib,’’ declared Syrian protesters, who brandished placards reading: ''Did Hamza scare you that much?’’

Revolutions and struggles against repression have a habit of crystallising themselves in the image of one person – a single image can come to represent a whole nation’s grievances. This has been the case throughout the wave of uprisings which have spread through the Middle East this year. They have undoubtedly found individual victims of regime brutality who have served to symbolise the conflict, helped along the way by the online technology which has often fuelled the people’s r... >>>

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