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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid