Human Rights Group Says It Counts 232 New Dead Since Agreement on Annan Plan
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, email@example.com
(New York) — Amnesty International said today scores of people are still being arrested and jailed across Syria, including 13 students who were beaten in their school, raising questions about whether the government is serious about its agreed-to commitments under the Annan plan. The organization said it received the names of 232 individuals, including 17 children, who were reported to have been killed since Syria agreed to the six-point plan on March 27.
"The evidence shows that Assad's supposed agreement to the Annan plan is having no impact on the ground. The crackdown across Syria continues, forcing us to question whether the authorities really intend to honor their commitments," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director, Amnesty International USA. "If so, then the government must release thousands held incommunicado, end arbitrary arrests and stop the violence. Otherwise, the only conclusion we can draw is that Syria has made empty promises once more."
Security agents on Sunday raided a secondary school in Daraya and arrested 13 students, all male between 17 and 19 years old. Relatives and eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that the students were searched, beaten and verbally abused in front of other students before being taken away. Their families have no information as to their whereabouts or safety.
The families said they believe that the men who arrested their relatives belonged to Air Force Intelligence, a security body which has been responsible for many, if not most, of the arrests in Daraya since March 2011.
The Daraya region has throughout the year-long uprising seen widespread protests, in many cases led by young activists.
Kofi Annan, Joint Special Envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League on Syria, on Monday told the U.N. Security Council that the Syrian government had agreed to begin implementing parts of the plan immediately.
But he said the Syrian government had not provided information on how it was fulfilling other parts of the plan, including its commitment to "intensify the pace and scale of the release of all persons detained arbitrarily owing to the recent incidents".
Amnesty International has received reports that scores of people are still being arrested on a daily basis. The organization is also aware of many cases of people arrested during February and March — for example some nine people arrested at the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression in February — who are still being held incommunicado and have not been released.
Amnesty International said that the measures suggested by Sunday's Friends of Syria meeting to improve accountability for crimes against humanity in Syria highlighted the failure of the U.N. Security Council to deliver an international mechanism to hold those responsible to account.
In its final communiqué, the "Friends' Group" agreed to "develop a multilateral initiative to support international and Syrian efforts to document, analyze and store evidence of serious violations of human rights in order to deter such conduct and lay the foundation for future accountability."
Amnesty International said that any investigatory measures must be independent and impartial and preferably carried out under U.N. auspices. The organization repeated its call for any U.N. mission deployed to the country as part of the Annan plan to include human rights monitors.
The organization said monitors must document crimes under international law to ensure justice for victims and to hold the perpetrators accountable.
Amnesty International wants legally-binding action from the Security Council to stop the violence, ensure accountability and stop the flow of arms to Syria.
"The burden is on the Security Council now to prove it has not merely given the Syrian government more time and cover to continue its ruthless repression," said Ann Harrison, deputy director, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa program
Notes for editors
The names of the students reported to have been arrested at the Commerce Secondary School of Daraya on Sunday are:
1- Omar al-Fahhal
2- Wa'el Khanji
3- Abd al-Wahab Fawwal
4- Majd Nayla
5- Nidal Dahous
6- Wa'el Idliby
7- Mohamed Sharebji
8- Mohamed Shaker Dabbas
9- Ali Khawladi
10- Mahmoud Badr
11- Anas al-Sharebji
12- Amjad Ali Wahby
13- Wa'el Qawqanji
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.