Syria: President al-Assad's Decision to Lay Blame for Unrest on Foreign "Conspiracy" is "Dangrous Diversion"

Press Release
March 30, 2011

Syria: President al-Assad's Decision to Lay Blame for Unrest on Foreign "Conspiracy" is "Dangrous Diversion"

Amnesty International
Press Release For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

President al-Assad's Decision to Lay Blame for Unrest on Foreign “Conspiracy” is “Dangerous Diversion,” Says Amnesty International

Organization Says Syrian President Should Address Real Problem of Security Force Violence Against Protesters

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

(London) – Amnesty International said today Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s failure to lift the country’s repressive state of emergency is a crucial missed opportunity.

“By pinning the blame for ongoing unrest on a foreign ‘conspiracy,’ President al-Assad is snubbing the many Syrians who are bravely calling for reform,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“It is also a dangerous diversion. He should be addressing the real problem – which is that his security forces have been firing live ammunition on protesters, killing dozens over the last month.”

The Syrian President’s speech today was widely expected to contain plans for the lifting of the country’s 50-year state of emergency.

The President instead said that laws relating to the state of emergency, political parties and other issues were awaiting public debate before being referred to “the relevant institutions.”

He also said that Syria was the victim of a foreign “conspiracy” to destabilize the country.

“Although President al-Assad did acknowledge the need for reform, his failure to address head-on the lifting of the state of emergency smacks of procrastination,” said Luther. “He could declare this tomorrow if he wanted.”

“He should have immediately ordered his security forces to stop using unwarranted force and announced steps towards implementing key human rights reforms.”

“We are disturbed by reports that security forces could already be shooting on demonstrators in Latakia who have been protesting against his speech.”

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 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.

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