The Syrian regime-affiliated Syrian Arab Athletics Federation on December 20, 2020, announced the upcoming ‘Will and Life’ marathon, taking place from December 24-26, 2020, beginning in Hama city and ending at the grave of Hafez al-Assad in Qardaha city in the suburbs of Latakia governorate, with the event being staged to hail and glorify the late dictator.
A number of citizens and state employees are being forced to participate in the marathon and similar activities, which harness state resources to promote obedience and submission to the ruling Assad family, with regime-allied totalitarian states also being invited to participate in them; such events no longer take place in this obsolete manner except in the world’s most wretched dictatorships such as North Korea and Syria under the rule of the current regime.
We at the Syrian Network for Human Rights estimate that this event requires the expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Syrian state’s treasury, even while citizens are suffering from severe shortages of bread; even worse is that the state is blatantly ignoring the grave global concerns about the second wave of Coronavirus, with new strain threatening to be even more infectious. While many countries of the world have announced stringent lockdowns, the Syrian regime is organizing worthless and grotesque festivals amid the unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Syria, despite the high death toll resulting from it. This confirms our repeated assertions that the Syrian regime bears the major responsibility for the spread of the coronavirus in Syria as a result of its catastrophic mismanagement of the crisis and its indifference to the health-related and economic ramifications of the pandemic.