In a recent New York Times article, Dan Bilefsky sheds light on the atrocities that occur on the battlefield and, more importantly, on how it is the responsibility of the individual soldiers to prevent such things from happening. Unfortunately, all too often soldiers are willing to shed their guilt by blaming their superiors and asserting that they just did their duty. However, every now and then there are soldiers willing to take a stand against these international atrocities. Once such soldier is Ammar Cheikh Omar.
The first time that Ammar Cheikh Omar was ordered to fire into an unarmed crowd of civilians, he mercifully fired his AK-47 just over the heads of the innocent protestors, but unfortunately he was one of the few who did. The United Nations estimates that Syrian foot soldiers such as Ammar Cheikh Omar are responsible for murdering over five thousand innocent protestors since March of last year. Sadly, this number is just a small representation of the staggering number of similar atrocities around the globe.
Fortunately, people like Ammar Cheikh Omar are finally beginning to take a stand by refusing to take part in these atrocities and defecting in order to avoid being placed in these gruesome situations. Currently, it is estimated that at least five thousand of these Syrian foot soldiers have defected, some of which defected after being ordered to return to their own villages and gun down innocent protestors whom they had know their entire lives. One soldier even underwent the tragedy of finding his brother among the bodies of innocent protesters that members of his unit had recently slaughtered. Considering the harsh penalties, such as death, that can result from defecting; the fact that these soldiers have the courage to stand up for what is right is incredible, especially considering the amount of soldiers who are willing to hide behind their orders. However, as remarkable as these efforts are, the efforts of these individuals is not nearly enough. The international community needs to take steps on a global scale to combat these problems. If a single man is willing to say no to committing these atrocities when at times there is literally a gun pointed to the back of his head, the international community should have the courage and conviction to match these contributions.