7:32am

Tue May 31, 2011
The Two-Way

In Syria, The Death Of 13-Year-Old Hamza Creates A Child Martyr

A video showing a 13-year-old boy's mutilated corpse has shocked many Syrians and is turning the victim, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, into a martyr. Many of those demanding the end of President Bashar Assad's regime say his death will strengthen their resolve and inspire others to come to their cause.

Too graphic for us to post, but not hard to find, the video, as The New York Times writes:

"Shows his battered, purple face. His skin is scrawled with cuts, gashes, deep burns and bullet wounds that would probably have injured but not killed. His jaw and kneecaps are shattered, according to an unidentified narrator, and his penis chopped off."

Now, GulfNews says, "Social media [is] abuzz with talk of a turning point in Syria's pro-democracy uprising."

Indeed, "#Hamza" is generating much discussion on Twitter and a Facebook page about what happened to the boy and the situation Syria has almost 61,000 followers.

The Financial Times says "the alleged torture and killing" of Hamza "could galvanize the country's troubled protest movement." The deaths of others who protested against corruption in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere have helped spread the "Arab spring" movement across North Africa and the Middle East.

According to The Washington Post:

"The details of exactly what happened to Hamza are sketchy and cannot be independently confirmed because most foreign journalists have been denied visas to enter Syria, and the few who are there cannot operate freely.

"But according to the accounts of family members interviewed by Arabic news channels and by human rights activists, the boy had been among a group of people detained when his father took him to an anti-regime rally April 29 in their home town of Jiza, a small southern farming community near the protest flash point of Daraa."

Then last Wednesday, nearly a month after Hamza was detained, Syrian officials informed the family of the boy's death. After his body was handed over to the family, an activist made the video.

Al-Jazeera has a video report here.

According to the Financial Times, "in an indication of how seriously the case could damage the government's image, state television has broadcast an interview with a doctor saying the boy's injuries could have been caused by decomposition rather than torture."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.