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 Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid