Amnesty International Says Syrian Authorities Must First End Bloody Crackdown and Punish Those Responsible

Press Release
April 19, 2011

Amnesty International Says Syrian Authorities Must First End Bloody Crackdown and Punish Those Responsible

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

Responding to Syria’s Pledge for Reforms, Amnesty International Says Authorities Must First End Bloody Crackdown and Punish Those Responsible Death Toll in Syria Over 220 in Past Month

(New York) – Syria President Bashar al-Assad must back up his pledge to introduce reforms with orders to end the continuing wave of killings of protesters by his security forces, Amnesty International said today. 

“We welcome reports that the government has agreed to lift the national state of emergency that has been in force continuously for the past 48 years, and abolish the notoriously unfair Supreme State Security Court that it spawned,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“These have been two key demands of the thousands of largely peaceful protesters that have braved the authorities’ bullets on Syria’s streets.”

According to reports, at least 26 more protesters were in recent days, bringing the total to some 220 over the past month. On Sunday, security forces reportedly killed 17 protesters in Homs and three mourners at a funeral in nearby Talbisah, with five more protesters reported killed in Latakia on Monday.

A tribal leader, Muhammad al-‘Aliwi, also died in custody on Monday, possibly as a result of torture.

“The concessions now being made by the government have been achieved at a very heavy cost in human lives,” said Smart. “There must be no more slaughter. Syria’s president must take firm action now to stop the bloody crackdown by his security forces and ensure that those responsible for it are held to account.”

“President Bashar al-Assad should match his action in lifting the emergency by establishing an immediate independent investigation into the unlawful killings and other violations committed by his forces, and by providing reparation to the victims.”

Syria’s Interior Ministry on Monday blamed recent events on “an armed insurrection by armed groups belonging to Salafist organizations.”

“Frankly, this looks like a self-serving claim intended to explain away or even justify the killing of peaceful protesters and mourners attending funerals of people previously killed,” said Malcolm Smart.

Amnesty International has seen no credible evidence to support the Ministry’s claim and the nationwide pro-reform protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful.