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(New York) – Amnesty International called on Russia today to stop its “unconscionable” obstruction of United Nations’ efforts to help end the bloodshed in Syria.
Russia has threatened to veto the resolution on Syria under negotiation at the U.N. Security Council, if it comes to a vote.
Russia was one of several Security Council members to block a previous resolution on Syria last Oct. 4. According to reports received by Amnesty International, more than 2,600 people have been killed in Syria since then.
“Russia’s threats to abort a binding U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria for the second time are utterly irresponsible. Russia bears a heavy responsibility for allowing the brutal crackdown on legitimate dissent in Syria to continue unchecked,” said José Luis Díaz, Amnesty International's representative to the United Nations in New York.
As the Syrian government’s largest overseas arms supplier, Russia has reportedly continued arms shipments into the country in recent weeks, even as Arab League observers reported on ongoing human rights violations carried out by Syrian security forces.
Amnesty International has called for the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Syria, freeze the foreign assets of President Bashar al-Assad and other senior leaders and refer the deteriorating situation in Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,
“After more than ten months of brutality by the Syrian security forces, it is unconscionable for Russia to continue to obstruct the U.N.’s response to try to stop the atrocities,” said Sanjeev Bery, Amnesty International’s advocacy director in Washington for the Middle East and North Africa. “By threatening another veto, Russia is giving Syria a free pass to commit more killings, torture more people, and make more arrests without cause. Russia’s stance in the face of the crackdown on peaceful protests is shocking.”
The new draft resolution before the Security Council is based heavily on a resolution adopted by the Arab League on January 22, in the aftermath of a report by the observer mission it sent to Syria in December 2011.
The Arab League text called for, among other things, the Syrian authorities and the opposition to begin serious political dialogue within two weeks on issues including the formation of a national unity government, restoring security, and reorganizing the police.
It also called for an independent commission of inquiry to be set up by the national unity government to investigate human rights violations against the Syrian people and ensure those responsible are brought to justice.
The Syrian authorities have rejected that proposal.
While the latest draft resolution is a step in the right direction, it fails to request an asset freeze, the referral of situation in Syria to the ICC or a comprehensive arms embargo.
Amnesty International has concluded that crimes against humanity are taking place in Syria – a finding also made by a U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry months ago. The draft resolution does not echo the U.N. Commission’s explicit call for independent and impartial investigations of all suspected perpetrators of such grave crimes.
Amnesty International is also calling for international human rights monitors – including human rights organizations– to be allowed full and unfettered access to Syria to report on crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.