Hamza al-Khatib was a beautiful boy. His chubby face, his rose cheeks and his tinseling eyes revealed a good hearted soul.
Today marks Hamza’s first death anniversary.
The 13-year-old boy was detained by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces on April 29, 2011 as he was taking part in a protest in the city of Deraa demanding more freedom in Syria.
Hamza lived with his parents in a village called al-Jeezah and had a reputation for being generous. Although coming from a modest family, stories about Hamza report that the boy had often asked his parents for money to give to the poor.
A year ago, his dead body was carried back to his family in a devastating state. Hamza’s body was covered with bruises, his jaw and knee had been smashed, he had cigarette burns all over his body and his genitals were cut off.
Hamza’s brutally-tortured body was displayed in a shocking video and the young boy soon became the new emblem of the Syrian uprising as thousands of people carried his photos during protests or put his pictures as their Facebook profile picture. Tunisia has its BouAzizi; Egypt has Khlaed Said and Syria has the youngest of them all, Hamza al-Khatib.
A Facebook page was set up to mark his memory under the title “We are all Hamza al-Khatib.” The page has more than 500,000 fans now.
Videos of Fridays’ protests showed crowds chanting for Hamza, and people carried posters of him wearing a blue polo shirt with his famous smile.
Hamza was just a child when he was tortured and killed. But he was also only a child when he stood up for his rights.
Hamza’s story is the tale of many children in Syria who are brutally killed, while still in the first phases of their lives.
Late last year, several former detainees informed the U.N. commission of inquiry in Syria that young boys were tortured at detention facilities. They were beaten mercilessly, including 10-year-old children.
Hamza al-Khatib did not celebrate his fourteenth birthday… only because a dictator had decided so.