The mysterious and iconic British street artist Banksy has created an animated video which marks the third anniversary of the brutal Syrian civil war, occurring on March 15, 2014.
Together with the #WithSyria campaign and reworking his classic Girl with a red balloon street painting, Banksy has put together a moving and very beautiful video, complete with a background of music and song.
The video, which is titled #WithSyria has the following opening words: “On March 15, 2014 the world will wake up to the third anniversary of the bloody conflict in Syria,” and is narrated by the British actor Idris Elba, who recently appeared as Nelson Mandela in the film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The original music is by Elbow and is from their recently released album The Take Off and Landing of Everything.
On Thursday this week, in around 35 cities worldwide, a new campaign was launched in an attempt to end the bloodshed and this video was projected onto iconic buildings for all to see.
The video shows the girl with her red balloon as a young Syrian refugee, floating over the war-torn country and showing buildings, destroyed by bombs, as well as children kneeling next to the bodies of their dead family members. Eventually she is joined by other people, both children and adults, also holding on to red balloons. The scene fades out to a view of the globe, covered in red balloons.
In New York City, people crowded in to watch the video as it was projected on to the Fox jumbo screen at the south end of Times Square. Paris, France, saw the video against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. Londoners enjoyed the view in Trafalgar Square on Nelson’s Column. Muscovites watched in amazement as the film was shown on the side of the Tretyakov Art Gallery, as Banksy marks the third anniversary of the Syrian civil war.
Once the film concluded, those attending the global screenings released red balloons up into the sky. The video can be viewed in its full form below:
As background to the event, on Banksy’s website we are reminded of the March 2011 arrest and torture of the children in Daraa, Syria. Their only crime was to paint anti-authoritarian graffiti on the walls of the town. The protests that emanated from this incident led to an “outbreak of violence that would see a domestic uprising transform into a civil war displacing 9.3 million people from their homes” that is the Syrian civil war.
The website reminds everyone that more than 4 million Syrians are displaced inside the country. A further 9.3 million Syrians are desperately in need of humanitarian help. A quarter million Syrians are living under siege conditions within the country. Syrian refugees are moving to surrounding countries, such as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and living in dreadful conditions in refugee camps. Around three-quarters of these refugees are women and children. Over 2.4 million have fled their home country.
2.7 million Syrian children are no longer able to attend school and more than 10,000 children have been killed in the conflict. With the media estimating that currently around 140,000 Syrians have been killed, Banksy does what he does best, and marks the third anniversary of the brutal Syrian Civil War in video form. Also included below is a video showing what it would be like if the Syrian situation should happen in, for instance, the United Kingdom, which brings the idea of the conflict that much closer to home:
By Anne Sewell
Global Vigil for Syria 2014