Hamza Al-Khatib would have turned 14 recently if it weren’t for the Syrian Baath security forces. He disappeared from a peaceful protest and was returned to his family, dead. Videos show his body bloated and bruised as a result of severe torture.

He had broken bones and gunshot wounds – shot into his body as a method of torture. His jaw and kneecaps had been smashed, and he had cigarette burns all over his body. Thirteen years old. His genitals were cut off, and he had been beaten with a cable and electrocuted.

The Syrian government denies that there were any signs of torture, as they have with thousands of others. They claimed his body was just “naturally decomposing.”

More than 14,000 men, women and children have been massacred by the government. Soccer stadiums have been turned into prisons for torture. Today, more than 100,000 brave Syrians have been detained, and many tortured for their call to freedom.

Bashar Assad and his Baath regime will only continue to kill with the complete support of China and Russia. Diplomatic efforts have failed, including efforts by the United Nations, Turkey and the Arab League.

Syrians have asked to be allowed to stand for their right for freedom and democracy against this brutal regime. The humanitarian crisis is only becoming worse – a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridor need to be established before more innocent civilians are killed.

The United States must allow the allies of Syria to provide logistical support and arms for the Free Syrian Army so they may protect the people.

The Baath regime is known for its crimes against humanity and will continue to do so unabated. Every day, brave Syrians take to the streets, many with a message: “Your silence is killing us.”

Jenan Jondy


City urged to go bigger on Thompson’s Point

Regarding Wayne Newland’s letter (“Thompson’s Point project should inspire creativity,” May 16): Calling the present setup an eyesore is a little harsh, but Newland is quite right in urging us to consider carefully what should replace it.

The current proposal for a smallish arena, a smallish concert venue and a hotel merely duplicates perfectly adequate facilities we already have.

Tinkering with the present Cumberland County Civic Center will not bring it up to the level of other New England civic centers; better to tear it down, use the space for a creative extension of the Arts District and build a brand-new state-of-the-art structure on the point.

The location is ideal. Not only is it handy to the transportation center and the highway and jetport (and with a marina we’d have the land-air-water trifecta), but as Newland points out, its prominence would make our new civic center a stunning symbol, an iconic landmark, for the great city of Portland.

Do it right. Put a tower on top in homage to the Portland Observatory. Make a splash. How about it, Portland?

Chris Lee


Column on Poliquin reflects bias against good treasurer

Bill Nemitz bashing Bruce Poliquin, imagine that (“Poliquin claws to get grip on gov’s coattails,” June 1).

The unadorned, undeniable liberal agenda ever pressed by Nemitz renders his columns utterly impotent to any reader seeking anything more than a sophomoric giggle, assuming they lean as far to the left as the Press Herald’s star writer.

I have known Bruce Poliquin for more than 20 years, and there could not be a better man for the position of treasurer, considering his objective to save the state of Maine from financial ruin. Given time and support, they will accomplish that goal.

If the Press Herald should ever wonder why their readership has dwindled to a mere trickle, they can blame the Internet, or illiteracy, or whatever they want, but from my point of view, they need look no further than their complete failure to provide objective reporting.

When you decide to choose one side of the fence over the other, you cut yourself off from part of the field. The Press Herald’s blatant liberal bias has disenfranchised half of the public (assuming they wish to reach beyond the city of Portland).

Roger Burleigh

Westport Island

Old part of city cemetery an insult to the long dead

We have a family plot in Forest City Cemetery. Some of my family have been buried there since the 1940s. We were extremely disappointed to visit the family graves on Memorial Day weekend to find that entire “old” part of the cemetery completely unmowed.

The grass was so tall, I could not see my aunt’s and uncle’s headstone or flower urn. I returned May 31 to find that the mowers had started mowing that section – three days after Memorial Day, the traditional Decoration Day for graves of the honored dead.

My family bought its plot before perpetual care was mandatory and specifically purchased perpetual care when the plot was obtained. There is absolutely no excuse for the city of Portland to treat the long dead any differently from the recent dead – in fact, it is an insult. It appears that Portland tries to make the front part look good for the public passing by but does not respect the Civil War, Spanish-American War or World War I dead as much, if at all.

I quizzed the workers and was told that overtime was not authorized and “weather” was a factor. We have had a long, mostly dry, spring this year, and May 31 was the first time this area has been mowed. So weather is not an excuse. The overtime issue is a nonstarter as well. We had a low-snow winter, so there should be money in that line to move into mowing of these sacred locations.

I am a town councilor in Scarborough, and we managed to have our public cemeteries mowed by Memorial Day. I have contacted Portland’s city manager, mayor and City Council members to ask them to look into this issue and ensure it does not happen again.

Carol S. Rancourt


LePage chooses highway over R&D investment

An editorial in the May 26 Portland Press Herald talks about the governor’s veto of a bond issue that would provide matching funds for private investment in research and development (Our View, “Lawmakers should override R&D veto”).

Isn’t this the same governor who plugged for the spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars to explore the feasibility and advisability of an east-west highway without any contributions from any of those investors salivating at the thought of what such a private road could bring to them?

Does the governor’s action sound a little hypocritical to you?

Al Burk