“I am a Pokemon at Idlib in Syria, would you please come and save me?”
“I am in Kafr Zeta, save me.”
“I live in Kafr Nabl, the Aleppo countryside. Come catch me.”
I am in Kafrnabol in #Idlib countryside, come find me.”
Come save me. Come find me. Come catch me.
These are the gut-wrenching messages written in Arabic that contrast the happy looking Pokemon they feature under. What makes them all the more troubling are the people holding up these messages – children in war-torn Syria.
— إعلام قوى الثورة (@RFS_mediaoffice) July 22, 2016
A GRIM MESSAGE THROUGH A HAPPY MEDIUM
Carrying this message through Pokemon Go has been a genius move. A global phenomenon hogging headlines everywhere, the game has caught the urban imagination in ways reality doesn’t. This social media initiative by RFS comes closest to them physically holding us by our shoulders and giving us a good shake.
Syrian children holding Pokemon photos in hopes the world will find them and save them pic.twitter.com/pjnSMwSdTn
— Teymour (@Teymour_Ashkan) July 21, 2016
As RFS Social Media Editor Abo Bakr was quoted by NBC News as saying, “We will keep trying to incite the world to stop Assad killing machine.
“We are talking about 7 or 8 years [old] children whom don’t know what is Pokemon is!! Imagine their lives if there is no response, no change to policy or action taken to stop the bombing!! They are dying in different ways from the brutal and indiscriminate attacks that Assad and his allies doing every day from cold in winter, hot in summer or starved.
And after all of this, if there is no action, we can say RIP humanity.”
CHILDREN OF WAR
According to UNICEF, a deeply disturbing total of 35,000 children are currently trapped in and around Manbij, the Syrian city recently struck by aerial bombardment.
A recent study further highlights how bad the plight of children caught in Syria’s war is. Between March 2011 and January 2015, a total of 78,000 deaths were recorded, over 4,000 were children who died in air strikes.
With so many children helpless and unsafe, RFS’ initiative, if nothing else, appears to be a novel effort to rehabilitate them.
— إعلام قوى الثورة (@RFS_mediaoffice) July 20, 2016
“With the media spread wide for Pokemon game we decided to publish these images to highlight the suffering of the Syrian people from the bombing of the forces of order and Air-Assad to the Syrian people and besiege them,” an RFS spokesperson told The Independent.
“Syrian children are victims of the war and the brutal and indiscriminate attacks that are carried out on a daily basis by regime and Russian jets,” the spokesperson added. “The Syrian children are paying the price for the international inaction to stop the Assad killing machine.”
The children in the pictures with their innocent faces and colourful Pokemon pictures grasped in their tiny hands at first look like they’re proudly displaying their artwork. On closer inspection, however, the pictures hit one with a terrible sense of guilt.