March 15th marks the third anniversary of the start of the Syrian Civil War and street artist Banksy is adamant that the day not come and go quietly.
Banksy orchestrated the #withsyria campaign in solidarity with the Syrian civilians whose lives have been uprooted by the conflict and in memory of the over 100,000 men, women and children who have died over the last three years.
The mission for the campaign, as stated on the website www.withsyria.com:
Around the world, people are showing every child, woman, and man caught up in the conflict that we are with them, that we are #WithSyria. We will tell our leaders: don’t let the people of Syria lose another year to bloodshed and suffering. There is always hope.
Banksy, who notably took NYC by storm this past fall, announced the campaign via a beautiful video that features the voiceover talents of actor Idris Elba with music from the UK band Elbow. The video introduces a reworked version of Banksy’s iconic Girl with Red Balloon image that premiered in London in 2002. The rationale for the selection of this particular image being the thread that ties together various aspects of the campaign is further explained on the website:
Banksy’s iconic “Girl with the Red Balloon” is a picture of hope. The red balloon carries the girl above and away from the chaos below, beyond the burnt-out buildings and bullet-potted walls.
While the bloodshed in Syria wages on, it’s easy to forget the conflict started with a couple of kids and some pro-democracy graffiti. Banksy reminds us of such on his personal website:
On the 6th March 2011 in the Syrian town of Daraa, fifteen children were arrested and tortured for painting anti-authoritarian graffiti. The protests that followed their detention led to an outbreak of violence across the country that would see a domestic uprising transform into a civil war displacing 9.3 million people from their homes.
The resulting campaign is in the spirit of freedom of speech and the belief that we have a responsibility to each other.
Balloon demonstrations and vigils are planned for the coming days. You can follow along on twitter using the hashtag #withsyria