Accountability For Victims Of Human Rights Abuses In Syria

May 2, 2011

By Mahsa Maleki, Syria Country Specialist

A protester with his fingers painted with the Syrian flag flashes a victory sign during a demonstration in Istanbul on April 29, 2011, against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to denounce the bloody crackdown on protests. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

Since protests demanding reform began on March 15 in Syria, hundreds have been detained or  injured and more than 450 protesters killed by Syrian security forces.

Members of the army and paramilitaries have shot into crowds of protesters and mourners using live ammunition, while snipers have shot and killed people in the streets and their homes and targeted medical workers and those helping the wounded.

Although the Syrian government and the Syrian state news agency have attributed many killings to members of “terrorist” and “fundamentalist” armed groups, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the evidence clearly indicates that security forces of the Syrian government are responsible.

Amnesty International has asked the Syrian authorities for permission to enter the country to investigate alleged human rights violations first hand.

We’ve also received new reports of torture and other ill-treatment against the protesters, including beatings with sticks and cables, electric shocks, and sexual abuse. In Dera’a, the center of the protests, the Syrian army besieged the town and cut off all water and electricity, while shelling  residential buildings.

There must be accountability for these human rights violations.  Amnesty International is calling on the UN Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Syria.  We’re also calling for an asset freeze on President Bashar al-Assad and others involved in committing such serious human rights violations.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

“The Syrian government and its security forces have long felt able to operate with total impunity, and we are now seeing the result of that in the kinds of bloody acts that they have been committing on the streets of Syria in recent days.

“President al-Assad and those around him have to understand that their actions will have consequences, namely that if they gun down their own citizens the international community will hold them individually criminally responsible before the ICC or national courts of states exercising universal jurisdiction.”

Help stop the bloodshed in Syria by calling on President Bashar al-Assad to immediately stop the killings, deliver justice and accountability.