#Syria, Leaked video showing abuse of detainees
*Graphic Warning*, #Idlib, #Syria: Leaked Video (with translation) of a civilian’s torture, abuse and humiliation by Assad’s thugs in Idlib, Syria
(New York) – Human Rights Watch issued the following statement on March 23, 2012, concerning the Russian Foreign Ministry’s use of a Human Rights Watch statement to support a one-sided position on Syria:
In its March 22, 2012 statement, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “deep concern” over human rights violations committed by armed groups affiliated with the Syrian opposition, extensively citing an open letter on this issue published by Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch also learned that Russian diplomats used the open letter in informal Security Council discussions on March 22 in an attempt to equate the violence by both sides.
Russia’s attention to concerns expressed in the letter to the Syrian opposition is a positive development. Human Rights Watch is committed to objective documentation and exposing abuses by all sides in Syria. The selective use of the findings, however, causes serious concern.
Since the beginning of the protests in Syria, Human Rights Watch has produced over 60 publications, including three extensive reports, on human rights violations by Syrian government forces. These publications contain detailed documentation of widespread and systematic abuses, including killings of peaceful protesters, shelling of residential neighborhoods, large-scale arbitrary detention and torture, “disappearances,” executions, denial of medical assistance, and looting.
Human Rights Watch concluded that that some of these violations constitute crimes against humanity and repeatedly called for an end to abuses and accountability for the perpetrators. Human Rights Watch presented the findings directly to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urging Russia to use its strong bilateral relations with the Syrian government as well as its weight in the international arena to put an end to government abuses.
None of these findings have been ever acknowledged by Russian officials.
Instead, despite overwhelming evidence of egregious crimes committed by the Syrian security forces, Russia provides diplomatic and military support to Bashar al-Assad’s government and has repeatedly blocked international action aimed at stopping the violations and bringing those responsible for these crimes to justice.
Abuses by opposition fighters are also not an argument for the international community, including Russia, to wash its hands of the Syria crisis, on the grounds that it is too complicated. On the contrary, they are an argument for intensifying pressure on the Syrian government to stop its abuses.
Russia should not pick and choose. If it relies on Human Rights Watch’s findings to support its condemnation of abuses by the Syrian opposition, it should pay equal attention to the extensive documentation of violations by government forces and support international efforts to stop those violations.
We are a group of Syrian bloggers, writers, activists, and independent citizens. We would like to commend your efforts to bring to light violations of human rights whatever their nature or source may be. We have read your letter to the leaders of the Syrian opposition highlighting “increasing evidence…of kidnappings, the use of torture, and executions by armed Syrian opposition members”, and we would like to respond with the following:
All efforts to expose criminal actions and violations of human rights are commendable. The Syrian uprising began with human rights at the forefront of its values. “Freedom” was one of the first words uttered in the chants of this uprising. It was also accompanied, at least in the beginning, with the chants of “Selmiya, Selmiya” (peaceful, peaceful). In one of the most memorable scenes of this revolution captured on video, Mohamed Abd Al Wahab from the town of Baidah (near to Banias) exclaims: “I’m a human being, not an animal!”, referring to the dehumanizing treatment of citizens by the security forces. The essence of the Syrian uprising is the people’s struggle for their human rights: the right of every Syrian citizen to freedom and dignity. The Assad regime has denied and suppressed these basic human rights for decades, employing every fear tactic imaginable: systematic murder (including but not limited to the massacre of Hama, 1982); mass imprisonment; and torture. These tactics of brutality have paralyzed the Syrian people in silence and fear, until March 2011.
Hence, we believe that the violations outlined by this report do not, and cannot, represent the entire opposition movement. We reject any implication that taints the entire opposition with these actions. This report has already been put to political use by mouthpieces and propagandists of the Syrian regime in order to bolster the notion that there are two equal sides to this crisis and that violence is more or less equal. This proposition is a gross exaggeration and utterly untrue. Criminal actions by armed opposition members, while appalling, are minuscule compared to the systematic criminal repression of the regime.
Many Syrians, understandably, have reacted to your report with anger and frustration. There is simply no mechanism in place to investigate these allegations or bring the perpetrators to justice and put them through fair trials. We can only realistically expect human rights to be ingrained and firmly upheld by state laws when Syria is free and democratic. Our struggle is not only with the Assad regime, but with a legacy of thuggery and Mukhabarat torture that infiltrated every aspect of life in Syria.
Finally, we must stress a very significant point in the HRW letter: it’s not always easy to identify armed opposition. As mentioned in the letter:
“Some reports received by Human Rights Watch indicate that in addition to armed groups with political motivations, criminal gangs, sometimes operating in the name of the opposition, may be carrying out some of these crimes.”
Indeed. This has exactly been the case of many kidnappings according to frequent reports from inside Syria, especially the city of Aleppo. When calling family members to demand ransom, the kidnappers identify themselves as members of the Free Syrian Army. While the reality suggests that there are far more likely suspects of these kidnappings: the criminals released from jail at the beginning of the uprising with a presidential pardon. These individuals have often been involved in the thuggish repression of peaceful protesters, and they would not miss the opportunity to smear the Free Syrian Army as well.
In conclusion, while we appreciate Human Rights Watch’s efforts to shed light on the current Syrian crisis and we join HRW in condemning all violations of human rights in Syria, we strongly oppose tainting the Syrian opposition as a whole with these isolated cases. We strongly oppose an attempt to equalize the country-wide spread of atrocities by the Assad regime and the isolated cases by a few anti-regime operatives. As HRW knows from its own previous reports on Syria, there no comparison between the two in the number of dead and imprisoned, and the sheer, indiscriminate brutality directed towards innocent civilians.
GRAPHIC WARNING | SHARE PLEASE #Syria: A collection of videos of the abuse and torture by Assad troops
Last updated at 11:09 PM on 4th March 2012
A hospital worker has provided horrific video evidence that medical staff in the besieged Syrian city of Homs are doing the unthinkable: torturing patients in their care.
Chilling images covertly filmed by the man, who risked his life to bring the plight of what he claims are civilian patients to world attention, are to be broadcast on Channel 4 News tonight. The grainy footage from the Homs military hospital depicts wards full of wounded men, blindfolded and shackled to their beds. Some bear marks of extreme beating. The apparent instruments of torture – a rubber whip and electrical cable – lie openly on a table in one of the wards. Suffering: An injured man lies in the Homs military hospital. Wounds are clearly visible on his chest On the orders of the Syrian government, all of those shot or injured during protests in Homs must be brought to the military hospital where staff are in league with the secret police. The whistleblower, ‘Abu Hamzeh’, claims many are whipped and beaten in their beds – and worse. The grim evidence of serious abuse raises the question of where the hundreds of injured civilians from the district of Baba Amr in Homs will be taken once the Red Cross finally negotiates their evacuation. Abu Hamzeh, not his real name, says he attempted several times to stop what he called ‘the shameful things’ which were happening in the hospital but that after being condemned as a ‘traitor’, he walked out in disgust and never went back. ‘I have seen detainees being tortured by electrocution, whipping, beating with batons, and by breaking their legs,’ he told ‘Mani’, a French photojournalist who risked his own life smuggling the footage out of Syria. ‘They twist the feet until the leg breaks. They perform operations without anaesthetics. I saw them slamming detainees’ heads against walls. They shackle the patients to beds. They deny them water.’ Shackled: A patient¿s arm is chained to his bed exposing the torture the Assad regime is inflicting Abu Hamzeh says he witnessed abuse by civilian and military surgeons at the hospital and by other medical staff, including male nurses. He has provided the names of all those he claims worked hand-in-glove with Syrian soldiers and the feared mukhabarat secret police. Sometimes, he says, he heard patients screaming while being kicked or beaten. The abuse took place, he claims, in the hospital’s ambulance section, its prison wards, the X-ray department and even in the intensive care unit. ‘Sometimes they have to amputate limbs and they go gangrenous because they don’t prescribe antibiotics,’ he said. The footage, filmed within the last three months, confirms what victims of such treatment have long claimed, but the Syrian regime has forcefully denied. This weekend the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, said he was receiving ‘grisly reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture’ from Homs. The UN human rights commissioner has already recommended to the Security Council that the Syrian regime be referred to the International Criminal Court, based on evidence which constitutes crimes against humanity – including acts of torture. Inhuman: A rubber whip and cable on the ward with some reports of patients being electrocuted, whipped and beaten Cilina Nasser, author of an Amnesty International report on mistreatment and torture in Syrian military and state-run hospitals – including the military hospital in Homs – was amazed that anyone would risk his life to film in the torture wards. ‘This is the first time we have video evidence to corroborate these claims,’ she said. ‘The new evidence is horrific. Hospitals should be safe places for anyone who needs medical attention and treatment, but it seems that wounded people in Syria have no safe place to go.’ Photojournalist Mani, who spent most of January and February in Homs, said: ‘Ordinary Syrians now consider it too dangerous to go to state-run hospitals if they’re injured. Most opt for hopelessly under-equipped makeshift backstreet clinics. ‘I met a 15-year-old boy who had been shot in the leg by a sniper. His father told me he was too afraid to bring his son to hospital. Even though he was in danger of losing his leg, the boy was treated in his own home by a nurse.’ Mani said Abu Hamzeh was distraught at what he had witnessed. ‘He wept as he talked to me about the torture and the fact that he was powerless to prevent it.’ Abu Hamzeh insisted there were some ‘decent doctors’ who refused to participate in the abuse of patients, but, he said, they were under constant and close surveillance. He claimed that while some of the victims in the military hospital are soldiers who refused to follow orders, most are civilians. Many of those injured, he said, were kept alive so they could be interrogated. Others were admitted to the hospital simply to revive them between torture sessions. ‘Some of the detainees used to be taken from the hospital to the prison. They’d bring them back either dead or with a brain haemorrhage. ‘The youngest I saw was 14 or 15 years old. Many detainees’ names were removed from emergency admissions lists so that no one would know where they were. There were no names. Just numbers.’ Jonathan Miller is Foreign Affairs Correspondent for Channel 4 News. His full report will be shown at 7pm tonight.
Some, he said, had nothing to do with anti-regime demonstrations; others were wounded when their neighbourhoods were attacked.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2110232/Smuggled-images-reveal-horror-Syrian-hospital-patients.html#ixzz1oFczbfps
Chilling images covertly filmed by the man, who risked his life to bring the plight of what he claims are civilian patients to world attention, are to be broadcast on Channel 4 News tonight.
The grainy footage from the Homs military hospital depicts wards full of wounded men, blindfolded and shackled to their beds. Some bear marks of extreme beating. The apparent instruments of torture – a rubber whip and electrical cable – lie openly on a table in one of the wards.
Suffering: An injured man lies in the Homs military hospital. Wounds are clearly visible on his chest
On the orders of the Syrian government, all of those shot or injured during protests in Homs must be brought to the military hospital where staff are in league with the secret police.
The whistleblower, ‘Abu Hamzeh’, claims many are whipped and beaten in their beds – and worse.
The grim evidence of serious abuse raises the question of where the hundreds of injured civilians from the district of Baba Amr in Homs will be taken once the Red Cross finally negotiates their evacuation.
Abu Hamzeh, not his real name, says he attempted several times to stop what he called ‘the shameful things’ which were happening in the hospital but that after being condemned as a ‘traitor’, he walked out in disgust and never went back.
‘I have seen detainees being tortured by electrocution, whipping, beating with batons, and by breaking their legs,’ he told ‘Mani’, a French photojournalist who risked his own life smuggling the footage out of Syria.
‘They twist the feet until the leg breaks. They perform operations without anaesthetics. I saw them slamming detainees’ heads against walls. They shackle the patients to beds. They deny them water.’
Shackled: A patient¿s arm is chained to his bed exposing the torture the Assad regime is inflicting
Abu Hamzeh says he witnessed abuse by civilian and military surgeons at the hospital and by other medical staff, including male nurses. He has provided the names of all those he claims worked hand-in-glove with Syrian soldiers and the feared mukhabarat secret police.
Sometimes, he says, he heard patients screaming while being kicked or beaten. The abuse took place, he claims, in the hospital’s ambulance section, its prison wards, the X-ray department and even in the intensive care unit.
‘Sometimes they have to amputate limbs and they go gangrenous because they don’t prescribe antibiotics,’ he said.
The footage, filmed within the last three months, confirms what victims of such treatment have long claimed, but the Syrian regime has forcefully denied.
This weekend the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, said he was receiving ‘grisly reports of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and torture’ from Homs.
The UN human rights commissioner has already recommended to the Security Council that the Syrian regime be referred to the International Criminal Court, based on evidence which constitutes crimes against humanity – including acts of torture.
Inhuman: A rubber whip and cable on the ward with some reports of patients being electrocuted, whipped and beaten
Cilina Nasser, author of an Amnesty International report on mistreatment and torture in Syrian military and state-run hospitals – including the military hospital in Homs – was amazed that anyone would risk his life to film in the torture wards.
‘This is the first time we have video evidence to corroborate these claims,’ she said. ‘The new evidence is horrific. Hospitals should be safe places for anyone who needs medical attention and treatment, but it seems that wounded people in Syria have no safe place to go.’
Photojournalist Mani, who spent most of January and February in Homs, said: ‘Ordinary Syrians now consider it too dangerous to go to state-run hospitals if they’re injured. Most opt for hopelessly under-equipped makeshift backstreet clinics.
‘I met a 15-year-old boy who had been shot in the leg by a sniper. His father told me he was too afraid to bring his son to hospital. Even though he was in danger of losing his leg, the boy was treated in his own home by a nurse.’ Mani said Abu Hamzeh was distraught at what he had witnessed.
‘He wept as he talked to me about the torture and the fact that he was powerless to prevent it.’
Abu Hamzeh insisted there were some ‘decent doctors’ who refused to participate in the abuse of patients, but, he said, they were under constant and close surveillance. He claimed that while some of the victims in the military hospital are soldiers who refused to follow orders, most are civilians.
Many of those injured, he said, were kept alive so they could be interrogated.
Others were admitted to the hospital simply to revive them between torture sessions. ‘Some of the detainees used to be taken from the hospital to the prison. They’d bring them back either dead or with a brain haemorrhage.
‘The youngest I saw was 14 or 15 years old. Many detainees’ names were removed from emergency admissions lists so that no one would know where they were. There were no names. Just numbers.’
Jonathan Miller is Foreign Affairs Correspondent for Channel 4 News. His full report will be shown at 7pm tonight.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers and Sisters, Dear Friends:
I thank you for your participation in this Friends of Syria Conference. I salute all the righteous souls of our fallen heroes and the journalists who were killed while covering their stories, and pay tribute to our great people, who have not stopped in their struggle to regain their rights, lost since the Assad family took over power. We started a revolution of freedom and dignity in the heart of Damascus, Syria on March 15. Our revolution was peaceful, but the regime’s response was atrocious. It bombed Lattakia from the sea; its soldiers slaughtered the people of Daraa; armored vehicles moved into Hama; and Homs is now being pounded by heavy artillery shelling that targets any Arab or foreign journalists who enter the city. The neighborhood of Baba Amr has been under siege for 20 days, during which most homes have been destroyed, a ban on bringing bread or medicine into the city has been imposed, its hospitals have been destroyed, and its women and children are being abused or killed. All this is to force residents to surrender and submit to the regime’s will. Yet the Syrian people have not surrendered, nor will they give up. A free people was born in Syria, and it does not fear death, nor does it accept to bargain away its long-deprived rights or give up its sovereignty by any definition.
We, the people of Syria, applaud your solidarity with us and your commitment to the cause of our people, and we are proud of our friendship with you. We welcome any assistance you might offer, or means to protect our brothers and sisters who are struggling to end the rule of tyranny. But let me also be frank with you: We are here today to work together for the future of Syria and the Syrian people. There is no room for regional rivalries, nor is there room to move the Syrian issue from one international camp to another. Our goal is a free, independent, sovereign Syria, and meeting the aspirations of the Syrian people is our objective. What is most desired by our people today is to, quite simply, transition to a system of government that is not based on force or under which citizens are terrorized and tortured. The Syrian people do not want a government that, rather than punishing corruption, revels in it. The Syrian people seek a government under which citizenship alone shall guarantee their rights and duties, rather than nepotism, favoritism, and personal loyalties.
What the Syrian people seek –all the Syrian people– is a government that knows the true meaning of accountability and responsibility. What the Syrian people seek is a government bound by the rule of law and under which all citizens of all segments of society are free and equal in their rights and national obligations. The Syrian people, all the Syrian people, want an end to the rule of a Mafia family and the establishment of a forward-looking, democratic, civil state in this new era. A system of government under which no Syrian must give up his dignity and freedom to stay alive. A system of government under which all Syrians have equal opportunities, and can enjoy the fruits of their labor and talents, rather than seeing them go to the close relatives and aides of senior officials.
We in the Syrian National Council, on behalf of the Syrian people, thank you for your help. We value your friendship. However, the key to the solution remains in the hands of Syrians; it is neither an external solution nor a military one. The key to our victory is in unity and mutual understanding.
To all my fellow Syrian brothers and sisters I say: Syria is our goal. With all honesty and openness, I speak before you now as a Syrian Arab citizen who happened to be born a Muslim. The beliefs I hold do not affect my commitments as a citizen, nor do they provide me with a national or cultural identity any more so than they would a Kurdish Syrian or Assyrian or Armenian, or any other ethnicity from across the spectrum of Syria to which each of us may belong.
What is happening today in Syria has nothing to do with a conflict between a minority and a majority. Those who are guilty of violating people’s honor and trampling on their rights, who kill their fellow countrymen and steal from them, have no religion or ethics, and are not of us. They have no humanity. And so I say to my fearful Alawite compatriots: You are my brothers and sisters, and your unique role in rebuilding the new Syria cannot be undertaken by anyone else, because it is a right you have earned through your historic struggle for Syria. No one has the right to hold you responsible for crimes committed by the Assad-Makhlouf Mafia. You are not responsible for the actions of corrupt dictators.
I say to my Christian brothers and sisters: Many of you left your historic Syria in the past in search of freedom and better opportunities. When you left, a dearly held part of Syria died. The new Syria is no longer merely a dream; it is within our reach, and we will work together to ensure that each Christian who needed to leave can return to the land of his or her forefathers.
The new Syria will not be the property of any sect, denomination, or group. Rather, it will be a homeland for all its citizens equally, a democratic civil state based on the rule of law and civil liberties in which our citizenship transcends any social, ethnic, national or sectarian faction. The new Syria will be one to which Syrians will be proud to belong; a Syria in which any citizen has the right to seek the highest positions in government without regard to ethnic origin, religion, or gender.
And to my Kurdish brothers and sisters, I say: Syria belongs to us all. There is no contradiction between a Syria that returns to embrace its Arab character and a Syria that respects your national identity and in which you are assured of equal constitutional rights as a group and as individuals before the law. The new Syria will have a decentralized government, thereby enabling local authorities to take control of their affairs. The people and land of the new Syria will remain united, and the new Syria will avail itself of every opportunity to celebrate the diversity that has enriched its long history. Your identity will be nationally and constitutionally recognized and respected accordingly, and your rights as citizens will be assured. You will play a significant role in rebuilding the Syria of our dreams, the Syria of which we have been dreaming for decades.
To all Syrians, I say: The Syrian National Council will not accept any form of political isolation, nor any form of discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, or gender. We reject any form of government that does not draw its legitimacy from the will of its people. For all those who fear what will happen as result of Assad’s and his thieves’ departure, I say: The Syrian National Council envisions a future Syria based on the rule of law and state institutions within a free and civil society that is founded in a prosperous, diverse, and creative nation. Syrians should never have to leave their country in search of freedom, opportunities, or a decent life.
To all Syrians who fear that chaos or instability will substitute the rule of Assad’s mafia and his supporters, I say that the solution is in our hands as Syrians in our unity and mutual understanding and the road ahead is clear:
• Continue the popular Revolution and resistance until Basher Al-Assad is ousted or a delegated authority takes over as per the Arab League Ministers’ Action Plan.
• Afterwards, a “Presidential Council” will be formed, and will be composed of well-known and national leaders who represent the different segments of society. The Presidential Council will in turn appoint a transitional government of political, military, and technocratic figures who have not fought against the Revolution; a government that will manage the nation’s affairs and maintains its structure and institutions, particularly military and civilian administration.
• The formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee in collaboration with civil society associations with the responsibility of investigating crimes, addressing legal and psychological consequences for the terrorism perpetrated by the previous regime, and preventing any sectarian or political reprisals. The committee will work to reconcile and restore the sense of nationalism and human values that have been lacking during this crisis.
• The transitional period ends with the election of members of Parliament, under the supervision of Arab and international monitors. The Parliament will choose a new president, appoint a new representative government, and establish a constitution based on parliamentary, pluralistic, and democratic rule to ensure a civil state in Syria. Only when the Legislative Council holds its first session will we have a new life with a democratic parliament, with God’s help.
We will work with the different state institutions to ensure national security and the safety of all citizens from the first day of the transitional period, and we will not tolerate any acts of revenge or attack or discrimination.
Dear Brothers, Sisters, and Friends,
All of the Syrian people look up to us and we sincerely hope that the assembly of this conference will be a turning point for the Syrian people’s long-awaited and bitter struggle to restore their natural rights and freedoms from the bloody and corrupt military rule. The regime exploited the international community for stability and used humanitarian, patriotic, and noble slogans to discredit an entire nation and rob it of its resources while controlling its children’s lives. The military dictatorship insulted individuality, humiliated the nation, and held its will in contempt, as it did to its culture, standing policy, history, and its foundation. For the past half-century, the military dictatorship has used control and violence as a means of governance. It has led to the bloodshed and abuse of individuals, including children, women, the youth, and the elderly without distinction, where thousands were imprisoned and thousands more were exiled. The Syrian people demand the following:
• First and foremost, the urgent provision of immediate relief, the declaration of disaster areas in Syria, and the establishment of humanitarian corridors to provide emergency assistance to Syrians. We demand that all women, children, and the wounded be evacuated from the besieged cities. Humanitarian and aid collection centers must be established in neighboring countries.
• Second, to secure and ensure freedom of work and movement for international relief and human rights organizations to help people in coping with the harsh conditions across the country.
• Third, to provide a means of protection for Syrian civilians and to remove all threats facing them, in order to create conditions that allow them to freely express their opinions and create an environment that helps foster self-determination.
• Fourth, to recognize the Syrian National Council and support its efforts in coordinating various parties involved in the Revolution within the framework of a national plan to accomplish change and oust the corrupt and tyrannical regime.
We owe it to our revolutionary youth who sacrificed their souls in order to bring freedom to their people; we are inspired and empowered by them. We work for their cause, and our efforts do not compare with their sacrifices. We have trust in all of the Syrian people, and call upon everyone to unite in their work towards freedom for our nation.
Dear Brothers, Sisters, and Friends,
Syria has a long history in the cradle of civilization and humanity. It is at the crossroads of many religions and cultures and remains the land of love, tolerance, and peace. Thanks to the great sacrifices of its children, democratic forces, and the help of the free world, it will soon be the land of freedom, rule of law, citizenship, volunteerism, and prosperity.
God bless the righteous heroes of liberty and peace. God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.
UK foreign secretary warns President Assad he risks all-out civil war if he remains in power, despite collapse of UN resolution
The foreign secretary said hopes now rested on the Arab League to increase pressure for political change in the light of this weekend’s setback. On Saturday, a United Nations security council resolution calling for the president to resign was vetoed by Russia and China, angering western diplomats.
Activists attacked Syrian embassies across the world as news of the vetoes spread.
“This is a doomed regime as well as a murdering regime. There is no way it can get its credibility back either internationally or with its own people,” Hague told Dermot Murnaghan on Sky.
“Because the regime is so intransigent, because it is conducting ten months unmitigated violence and repression – more than 6,000 killed with 12,000 or 14,000 in detention and subject to every kind of torture and abuse – it is driving some opponents to violent action themselves. That is tipping Syria closer to something that begins to look like a civil war,” he said.
In Syria, dozens were reported killed on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days since protests began last March. Rebel groups and opposition activists said the regime launched an assault on the city of Homs on Friday night using mortar and tanks to bombard civilian areas.
One opposition group said it had confirmed 62 deaths in Homs, while other organisations gave death tolls in excess of 200.
Hague, said that Russia and China’s veto had “emboldened” Assad’s position. “I think Russia and China do bear increased responsibility and that means in the Middle East and Arab world there will be a great deal of anger at the positions that Russia and China have taken.
“This underlines the need for a political transition and in our view for Assad to go, or in the plan of the Arab League to hand over to his deputy and form a unity government, thats a sensible way forward,” he said.
However, he said he would continue to work alongside the Russian and Chinese governments and plans to contact Russia’s foreign minister when he returns from a visit to Syria later this week.
“We will continue to work with Russia and China on this, we want them to change their position,” Hague said.
Asked about plans by Arab countries to expel Syrian diplomats, Hague said that Britain’s diplomatic options wre constantly being reviewed but any announcement would first be made to parliament.
“We haven’t taken any decisions to sever our diplomatic links at the moment but the Arab League is playing a very strong role … This is the main way forward now – for the Arab League to pursue their plan because they don’t need the UN to do that although it would have been good to have had a clear mandate from the United Nations.
“They should pursue their plan and intensify their own pressure on the Assad regime to stop the killing and allow a peaceful political transition.”
Hague said the UK had reduced its embassy operations in Syria to an absolute minimum and reiterated the government’s position of ruling out military intervention, stressing the differences with last year’s regime change in Libya.
“In Libya we had the authority of the UN to take all necessary measures. Given what has happened this weekend, we could not pass such a resolution.
Secondly, the consequences would be far more difficult to foresee in Syria than they were in the relatively straightforward Libya because of the knock on effects across the region. Thirdly it would have to be on a dramatically bigger scale in Syria in order to be effective,” he said.
The Sino-Russian veto was intended to promote a political settlement, China’s state news agency Xinhua said in an article today.
It “aimed at further seeking peaceful settlement of the chronic Syrian crisis and preventing possible drastic and risky solutions to it,” the piece said.
“With the veto, Russia and China believed more time and patience should be given to a political solution … which would prevent the Syrian people from more turbulence and fatalities.”
The opposition Syrian National Council condemned Moscow and Beijing for obstructing the passage of the draft resolution. The veto drew an angry response from American UN envoy Susan Rice, who wrote on Twitter that she was “disgusted” and said Russia and China would have blood on their hands.
But the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, criticised the UN resolution, saying it made too few demands of anti-government armed groups, and could prejudge the outcome of a dialogue among political forces in the country.
Russian news agencies reported that Lavrov and Russia’s foreign intelligence chief, Mikhail Fradkov, would meet Assad in Damascus on Tuesday.
Syria has been a key Russian ally since the Soviet era and Moscow has opposed any UN demands that could be interpreted as advocating military intervention or regime change.
Earlier on Saturday, Tunisia decided to expel Syria’s ambassador in response to the “bloody massacre” in Homs and said it no longer recognised the Assad regime. As news of the violence spread, a crowd of Syrians stormed their country’s embassy in Cairo and protests broke out outside Syrian missions in Britain, Germany and the US.
WRITTEN BY MARY RIZZO
100 Syrian civilian vicitims in 2 days of attacks against them
“You may as well be born an animal rather than a Syrian. You would have been given more protection.”
I have been wondering to myself and at times aloud, “What the hell has happened to the empathy and humanity of the activism movement? When did they start deciding whose blood was expendable? Where did their compassion, empathy and sense of justice go?”
There are a few qualities that an activist should have as a mandatory part of their baggage. Not all of them are required to have a solution to the problems that are afflicting the victims or the weak in the causes that they are advocating. Nor are they even required to dedicate a lot of time or money to the cause. One can be an activist nowadays locally or even if they are disabled and unable to leave their homes, as they can express their views, share information and engage in solidarity by means of internet. The qualities however that should be part of every activists’ tool kit include empathy, a bit of courage and a strong desire for “good” to overpower and defeat “bad”. And, that this vital and obligatory baggage has become so selective, has got to be the most fatal blow to the activism universe. It makes it reek of hypocrisy and plays directly into the hands of the oppressors.
Empathy is a social and emotional response to the conditions that other sentient beings are in. Since we all can agree that pain and suffering (including being a victim of abuse, starvation, deprivation) are negative things, it is not difficult to feel bad, “as if” what is happening could be happening to us or to the people or animals we love. If we are able to unplug the empathy because we have an ideology that we buy into, accompanied by a kind of strange peer pressure, something has gone wrong very seriously. If we are selective in such a subject as human pain and our acceptance of it, we need a major time out to rethink what we are doing in activism. We should remember that empathy can be a tool towards change, we should put it to use and understand that suffering people (and to some extent animals) are aware of our involvement or our detachment, and they tap into the capacity of (especially) activists, to make the feelings of empathy manifest and bring about an end to the suffering, which is the primary and immediate goal.
By understanding, witnessing and realising the extreme suffering that some are subject to, an activist has the ability to concretely help to change the condition of pain and suffering through the recognition of the condition followed by acts that aim at intervening in favour of the victims. On the other hand, their indifference can empower the abuser and oppressor, who believes that there is justification for his violence.
There has been no lack of evidence for many many months coming from Syria that the situation in Syria is a humanitarian crisis of an extremely severe nature. To cite some statistics, much of them from international organs that are considered to be highly authoritative such as the UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others, in eleven months since the first protests against the regime in power took to the streets, there have been a confirmed 6000 civilians killed, by snipers, shelling, bombs and beatings, though other sources claim that the actual number is much higher, since discovery of mass graves and bodies of “disappeared” protesters is a constant occurrence. 70,000 persons have been arrested, most of them charged with nothing or charged with crimes that would not stand up in any normal court of law, including thought crimes and crimes of intention. There have been constant and documented abuses and torture, with corpses bearing the signs of brutality one can hardly imagine. The scenes are so horrible and devastating, in years and years of activism for human rights and especially Palestinian rights, I have never witnessed this level of depravity, this level of gore.
Last week, the town of Idlib had a most gruesome event: a group of people were victims of the explosion of a nail bomb, sending tiny projectiles into the flesh, damaging internal organs and causing internal bleeding until painful death comes. They were brought to the civil hospital for holding before their funerals, but 60 other bodies were discovered in the refrigerator cells, all of them bearing signs of gruesome torture. The hospital was occupied by the regime’s militia who also prohibited any wounded from receiving treatment. Hospitals were now simply for serving the regime’s fight to stay in power at all costs. What came to mind to an activist I know who had seen the still shots of the bodies face down in pools of their own blood was scenes of Sabra and Shatilla. But these are Syrians, and for some strange reason, most activists for Palestine are ignoring this. Are they wearing blinders or are they unable to empathise with the Syrians?
That there are over 20,000 refugees who have sought refuge in Turkey in a tent facility is another number that should cause any activists to tremble. We know the fate of refugees, the way they often never come back and mostly, the dire living conditions they are faced with. An activist should be concerned about this problem. How many Syrians have fled to Lebanon or even farther? No one knows the numbers because often these people continue to be threatened and hunted even in exile.
Why do the activists fail to understand the severity of the situation? Why do they denounce the protesters in the same exact terms used by the regime with mountains of evidence against it being a humane government? Why have they tweeted, blogged, shouted for weeks about pepper spray in the eyes of American demonstrators, yet the mortal assaults on civilians (including 300 children who have had a violent death at the hands of the regime, many of them subjected to arrest and death at the hands of their torturers) are all but ignored? Are Syrians children of a lesser God? Are they less worthy of protection and concern? Is it possible that American university students who later in the day can go to their dorms and realise their lives are not in danger get more sympathy and empathy from activists than innocent Arab children who have lost their lives under the cruelty of a repressive militia?
Some will say, “Why do you say that it’s worse if someone is killing their own people?” as a kind of excuse to then talk about a different geographical place, a different situation. Others will say that the Assad regime is the last bastion against imperialism, which is the sole argument they seem to be able to muster. They are certain there is an imperialist plot behind all of this, something they were reluctant to say with the same protests in Tunisia, Egypt and to some extent, to the Palestinian Intifadas. Many of these people who are proclaiming it can’t be a sincere popular revolt or revolution live in affluent societies in Europe and North America, where they have the right to say what they want to without being arrested and yet, have never taken part in a revolution or revolt. Others will say that there should be no outside intervention, but they root for Russia, Lebanon and Iran continuing to arm the regime and give it economic solvency for as long as possible. Others will say that the Free Syria Army is an imperialist militia (???!!!) and that it is fomenting war and is not a true resistance militia. Yet others are claiming that both sides are to blame, putting them on equal footing, something they would never dare do if this were Palestine. How can an armed power that controls government, the economy, can turn off water, electricity and gas at a whim, arbitrarily arrest people in the thousands, close down hospitals and invade cities with tanks, bombarding people as they are within their own homes and placing snipers on the roof should they dare seek to escape be equated with the civilians?
A Syrian friend of mine said to me a few months ago, “If only we were animals, then I think that more people would feel for us and care.” After a few weeks, he noticed even the total abandonment of the Activists for Palestine, who are touting the Assad line without a practical reason to do so unless they are inhumane or blind. He said, “We should just tell everyone we are Palestinian, perhaps they will then be upset about how we are dying”. I would take it further: several years ago Vittorio Arrigoni wrote a piece that was very poignant. I ask especially the activists for Palestine to read it and reflect upon it.
“Take some kittens, tiny little cats and put them in a box” said the surgeon at Gaza’s main hospital called Al Shifa, while the nurse placed a couple of big boxes on the floor right in front of us, covered in splashes of blood. “Seal up the box, then with all your might jump on top of it until you hear the little bones crunching, and the last suffocated “meow”. I’m astounded and I stare at the boxes. The doctor goes on “Now try to imagine what would happen straight after the broadcast of a scene like that, the justifiably indignant reaction of the world-wide public, the denunciations of the organisations protecting animals…” The doctor goes on with his account and I can’t take my eyes off those boxes placed by my feet. “Israel has enclosed hundreds of civilians in a school as though in a box, dozens of children, and then it squeezed it with all its might using its bombs. And what were the reactions of the world? Almost nothing. You may as well be born an animal rather than Palestinian. We would have been given more protection.” At this point the doctor leans towards the box and takes the lid off in front of my eyes. Inside there are mutilated limbs, arms, legs, from the knee down or whole femurs, amputated from the people injured inside the Al Fakhura United Nations school in Jabalia. Up until now there are more than 50 victims. I pretended I had an urgent telephone call, I told Jamal I had to go, but actually I ran for the toilet, I bent over and threw up.
Right now those victims are Syrians. At this moment, the average of 40 victims each day, at times close to 100, belongs to Syria. “You may as well be born an animal rather than a Syrian. You would have been given more protection.”
#Syria: Ahmad Sheikh Najeeb is from the village of Hass, Idlib. He was arrested and accused of possessing arms. He was brutally tortured to confess that he can see and had attacked the army and security forces. When it was confirmed that he was blind, he was teased and ordered to walk and run in the room to stumble against the hurdles which were deliberately put in front of him so that he falls and runs into the walls.