Our Response to President Vladimir Putin’s New York Times Op-EdSeptember 12, 2013
In his New York Times opinion piece regarding Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin argues against the recently proposed U.S. military strike on Syria. Amnesty International neither condemns nor condones armed intervention in Syria. However, some of President Putin’s arguments obscure Russia’s own role in blocking a resolution to the human rights crisis in Syria.
[pullquote text=”President Putin also claims that Syria’s internal conflict is ‘fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition,’ but fails to mention that his own government has been a major arms supplier to the Syrian government.”]Russian diplomats have repeatedly blocked international law from being enforced by blocking the U.N. Security Council from adopting measures to holding human rights violators accountable in Syria. Together with China, the Russian government has wielded its veto on multiple occasions to stop meaningful global action, which would include imposing an arms embargo on the Syrian government and referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. In addition, no arms transfer should be made to an armed opposition group where there is a substantial risk of the group committing serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
President Putin also claims that Syria’s internal conflict is “fueled by foreign weapons supplied to the opposition,” but fails to mention that his own government has been a major arms supplier to the Syrian government. The vast majority of the human rights abuses documented by Amnesty International have been committed by the state’s armed forces and pro-government shabiha militias. Abuses have also been committed by armed opposition groups.
Finally, President Putin ignored the Syrian government’s crackdown on human rights advocates inside Syria. Human rights defenders inside Syria are subject to harassment, arbitrary arrest, and detention. The Syrian government has even blocked the U.N.-mandated Commission of Inquiry from entering the country.