Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Syrian activists switch to low-tech method of communication: carrier pigeons

Activists in the Syrian city of Homs, who launched their uprising last March using social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter to rally support, are currently under siege by government shelling. With that, they've resorted to a decidedly low-tech, or perhaps, old-tech method of communication: carrier pigeons.

Several videos of activists and supporters using carrier pigeons have been uploaded to YouTube. In one, a message on a pigeon's leg can be seen that says, “From the activists in Old Homs (district) to those in Baba Amr, please tell us what you need in terms of supplies, medicine and food. God willing, we will deliver them to you."

Omar, an activist in Homs, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that “We thank Bashar for taking us back to the Middle Ages,” regarding the use of carrier pigeons.

Syrians were among the first to use carrier pigeons to transport messages. This was often the only method of communication in the region.

Carrier pigeons were often used on the battlefield. Despite the advent of radio, jamming and the cutting of lines sometimes still required their use. In one famous incident, a carrier pigeon named Cher Ami helped save the "Lost Battalion" of the 77th Division in the battle of the Argonne, October 1918 when, despite being shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, covered in blood and left with a leg hanging only by a tendon, he managed to get his message back to HQ.

Watch a video showing carrier pigeon use in Syria, below.

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