The United Nations Security Council has rejected a statement condemning the ongoing violence in Syria that has resulted in hundreds of deaths. Russia and China have blocked the statement proposed by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal.
Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Ja’afari told reporters the statement failed because of what he called the wisdom, fairness and objectivity of several Security Council members. Ja’afari’s statement coincided with references by the Russian and Chinese representatives to reforms announced by the Syrian government in response to demands by protesters.
Bashar Ja'afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the UN, speaks at a meeting of the Security Council on the situation in his country, 27 April 2011
"My government has a keen interest in continuing the process of reforms according to the wish of our own people. This process of reforms emanates from domestic national necessities. It is not, and will not be dictated on us from outside," Ja’afari said.
The Russian delegate said reforms are to include measures for reigning in corruption, encouraging free media and developing rural areas. The Chinese representative called for dialogue to address the Syrian violence.
The position of the United States and other Western nations stood in stark contrast. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the Syrian government is engaged in gratuitous violence against its own people.
"The Syrian government must stop the arbitrary arrest, detention and torture of civilians, especially journalists and activists. We call on the Syrian government to allow the media, including foreign journalists, as well as human rights monitors to verify events independently on the ground," Rice said.
U.N. Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe quoted Syrian demonstrators as saying government reform measures have been too little and too late. He noted that "siege-like conditions" make it difficult to confirm information from that country. But Pascoe said sources considered by the U.N. to be reliable indicate artillery fire against unarmed civilians, door-to-door arrests, and the shooting of medical personnel who aid the wounded. The U.N. official said the humanitarian situation also appears to be deteriorating.
"There is growing concern over the overall well-being of the population, including their access to medical care and services, and access to food and water and in some cities," Pascoe said.
Pascoe said as many as 400 people have been killed in the violence sweeping Syria. The Russian, Chinese and Syrian representatives said the dead include government security forces killed by extremists.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said brutal actions in Syria are not those of a responsible government or a credible member of the international community. She added that words must be backed by actions to ensure real reform in Syria.