News / Middle East

Congressional Panel Calls for UN Action on Syrian Government Repression of Demonstrators

Michael Posner, the assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (file photo)
Michael Posner, the assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (file photo)
Cindy Saine

Experts have told a hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on Capitol Hill that the human rights situation in Syria is grim and deteriorating.  The hearing comes a day after Syrian soldiers stood by and did nothing as pro-government mobs stormed the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus.

The Obama administration reacted angrily Monday to the attacks on the U.S. and French embassy compounds, accusing the Syrian government of trying to deflect attention from Syria's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a strong statement Monday, saying that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has "lost legitimacy" and that he is not indispensable to the country's future.  At Tuesday's human rights hearing, Michael Posner, the assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor also condemned the attacks on the embassies.

"We view these incidents as further evidence that President Assad's government continues to be the real source of instability in Syria," said Posner. "He has promised reforms, but he has delivered no meaningful changes.  He talks about dialogue, but he continues to engage in violence that prove his rhetoric hollow."

Syrian state media condemned Secretary Clinton's remarks, calling it additional evidence of what it called "flagrant interference" by the United States in Syria's internal affairs.

But Assistant Secretary of State Posner said that the widening pro-democracy protests in Syria have nothing to do with the United States, but with the strength of the Syrian people to take to the streets. Posner said the "wall of fear" has fallen in Syria, and that the United States will stand with the Syrian people.

"The Syrian people have shown that they will not cease their demands for dignity and a future free from intimidation and fear," he said.

More than 1,000 Syrian civilians have been killed since anti-government protests began in March.

Mara Karlin of The John Hopkins University outlined what Syrians are facing.

"Reports emanating from around the country tell tales of mass arrests, gruesome torture, attacks on religious sites, killings during peaceful funeral marches and the murder of young Syrians," said Karlin. "The injured have been denied medical attention, indeed on occasion, Syrians security forces have taken over hospitals, in an effort to better target and eliminate protesters."

She and other experts at the hearing called on the United States to take a leading role in trying to move the United Nations to condemn the Syrian government after four months of repression of pro-democracy demonstrators.  The Security Council has not taken action because of opposition by Russia and China.

"While we may have our European allies on board, but we really need to work with other critical players, namely Russia, regional powers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia," she said.

None of the experts at the hearing called for outside military intervention in Syria.  But Radwan Ziadeh,  a Syrian human rights activist with the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, did ask President Barack Obama to take a public stand.

"I think it is important for President Obama to make a live and on television statement calling on Bashir [al-]Assad to step down immediately," said Ziadeh.

The United States has stopped short of calling on President Assad to resign, though U.S. officials have strongly condemned Syrian government violence against protesters.

You May Like

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid