News / Middle East

UN Security Council Condemns Syrian Violence

People gather in a street in Hama as smoke rises in the background in this video image posted on a social media website on August 2, 2011 (the authenticity of the video from which this image was taken cannot be independently verified)
People gather in a street in Hama as smoke rises in the background in this video image posted on a social media website on August 2, 2011 (the authenticity of the video from which this image was taken cannot be independently verified)

Multimedia

Audio
Margaret Besheer

As Syrian tanks shelled the flashpoint town of Hama Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council overcame months of division and strongly condemned the on-going violence. The U.N.’s most powerful body expressed “grave concern” at the deteriorating situation in Syria, where some 1,700 people have died and thousands more have been arrested or disappeared since the government began a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in mid-March. It was not easy for the Council to reach consensus.

In its statement, the Security Council condemned the “widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.” The Council also called on the Syrian authorities “to fully respect human rights and to comply with their obligations under international law,” and warns that those responsible for the violence should be held accountable.

Syria's Hama - Flashpoint City

For a second time, the Syrian city of Hama has become a flashpoint of dissent against a government led by a member of the Assad family.

  • Security forces have staged series of violent raids into Hama since protesters began demanding President Bashar al-Assad's ouster in March. Activists have repeatedly used a central square as a rallying point.

  • In 1982, president's father, former President Hafez al-Assad, used military forces to crush uprising by Islamic conservatives in Hama. Rights groups say thousands were killed during three-week crackdown.

  • One of Syria's largest cities, Hama is 300 kilometers north of Damascus.

  • It has estimated population of at least 500,000, mostly Sunni Muslims.

The Security Council also demanded the immediate end to all violence and urged restraint on both sides, including attacks against state institutions - a reference to violence committed by demonstrators and included to satisfy Russia and other members who felt blaming the government alone was unfair. But Western diplomats have stressed that one cannot equate what protesters have done in self-defense to what the government has perpetrated against its own people.

The Council also stressed that the only solution to the crisis is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that aims to “address the legitimate aspirations and concerns” of the Syrian people. And it notes that the Assad government has promised reforms, but has failed to make progress in implementing them and urged the government to fulfill its commitments.

But after the full council adopted the statement, Syria’s close ally and neighbor, Lebanon, employed a rarely used procedural loophole and “disassociated” itself from the statement.

Deputy Ambassador Caroline Ziade:

“And while we express our deep regret for the loss of innocent victims and we offer our condolences to their families, we hope for Syria, the people and country, we hope that reform will lead to progress and prosperity," said Ziade. "But since Lebanon considers that the statement being discussed in our meeting today does not help in addressing the current situation in Syria, therefore, Lebanon disassociates itself from this presidential statement.”

But British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said that Lebanon’s disassociation was neither unprecedented nor does it detract from the Council’s unanimous and clear message to the Syrian regime.

“Barbarous acts must cease in Syria," said Lyall Grant. "The country must find its way onto a path of stability. This will only be achieved through the immediate cessation of violence and the implementation without delay of profound political reforms, respect of human rights and fundamental liberties, and genuine accountability for atrocities against protesters.”

The United States and European members had pressed for a resolution, which is stronger than the presidential statement that was adopted. But their efforts were blocked by Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, who feared a resolution could lead to a similar situation as the one in Libya, where the Council authorized a no-fly zone and targeted bombings to protect anti-government protesters from attack by leader Moammar Gadhafi’s security forces.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who has been very vocal in calling for a cessation of violence in Syria, said the intensified military crackdown of the past several days has been “brutally shocking.”

“Once again I call on President Assad and the Syrian authorities to immediately cease all violence against their people, to fully respect human rights and implement reforms they have already announced," he said. "I further urge them to comply with the Security Council’s demand to allow independent and unimpeded access to international humanitarian agencies and to cooperate fully with the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.”

Mr. Ban told reporters that all killings should be investigated fully, independently and transparently, and those responsible should be held accountable.

Under the terms of the Security Council statement, Mr. Ban must update the Council within the next seven days on the situation in Syria.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs