A 13-year-old boy has become the new symbol of the grassroots Syrian Revolution that threatens the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Hamza al-Khatib disappeared after his arrest on April 29 after an anti-government protest in Dera'a, where the rebellion was ignited by the arrest by police of children spray-painting revolutionary graffiti from Tunisia.
Last Wednesday, however, the young boy reappeared, albeit no longer intact, and no longer alive.
Syrian security forces returned his body to his parents on the condition they agreed to sign a form promising to bury his body immediately.
Activists made sure to film detailed video footage of the 13-year-old's battered and bullet-riddled body, and to post that video on YouTube, before the boy was laid to rest.
The video was also posted on the Facebook site Syrian Revolution 2011, in Arabic and in English.
After careful consideration, the Israel National News staff has elected not to embed the video or include a link due to the extremely graphic nature of the torture inflicted upon the young boy. Shocking images of his broken head, his bruised body covered with cigarette burns and bullet holes, and the fact that male genitalia was amputated led to the decision.
“There were a few bullets in his body used as a way to torture rather than kill him,” the founders of the Facebook page wrote.
“We are all Hamza al-Khatib, and we all dream of freedom,” an activist wrote on the page. “Today, because of Hamza, we will achieve this freedom with determination and we will not let Hamza's blood and that of other martyrs flow in vain.”
At least 1,500 civilians have been killed so far in the Syrian uprising, according to human rights groups, and more than 15,000 others have been detained.