News / Middle East

Syrian Forces Accused of Sexually Assaulting Detainees

Women take part in a demonstration against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, May 31, 2012.
Women take part in a demonstration against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, May 31, 2012.
VOA News
Human Rights Watch says Syrian government forces are using sexual violence to torture men, women, and boys detained during the country's 15-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

The New York-based rights group Friday released a statement saying soldiers and pro-government armed militias are also sexually abusing women as well as girls as young as 12 years old.  The group based its report on interviews with former detainees who described being sexually abused or witnessing abuses, including rape, beatings and electric shocks.  

The group says it documented more than 20 incidents of sexual assault between March 2011 and March 2012, with most of the cases occurring in the opposition stronghold of Homs.  But it said the full extent of sexual violence in and outside of Syrian detention facilities is not known.

While Human Rights Watch said it does not have evidence that senior military commanders ordered soldiers to commit the sexual violence, it said no action has been taken to investigate such abuses.  Syria's government has not responded to the allegations.

The report comes as activists report a continued surge in violence, which threatens to escalate the country's conflict into an all-out civil war. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that government forces were shelling rebel-held areas and clashing with opposition forces in Homs, Aleppo, Douma and Damascus.  

Russia on Friday denied U.S. accusations that Moscow is fueling the violence by supplying Syria with new helicopters.  Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Moscow has only carried out repairs of helicopters sent there "many years ago." Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Russia was making new deliveries of helicopters, which activists say are being used to kill civilians.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also denied reports suggesting that Russia, a key ally of Damascus, is discussing plans for a political transformation in Syria that would include the departure of President Assad. Lavrov said such discussions would contradict the position of Russia, which has helped block the U.N. Security Council from taking more serious action against Assad.

With international efforts to mediate an end to the bloody conflict stalled, members of Syria's fractured opposition are meeting in Istanbul on Friday in an attempt to settle their differences and present a unified front.

Opposition leader Ammar al-Qurabi said the aim of the opposition is not necessarily to find a replacement for President Assad, but to find a way to bring democracy to Syria.

"The problem is not about the shape or any umbrella. We discuss paper, we discuss democracy," he said. "The people fight Assad because they hate the dictatorship."

The meeting, which also includes delegates from the U.S., Britain, and France, comes as world powers make tentative plans to hold a meeting in Geneva on June 30 to try to revive a U.N.-backed peace plan that has so far proven unsuccessful.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization 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

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kafantaris from: USA
June 15, 2012 12:24 PM
Why exactly do we expect Russia to act differently than it has on Syria? Can we not see that Syria is a microcosm of Russia? For decades a strong ruler has governed both countries -- effectively denying citizens a say so in their government. If Russia helps fix this in Syria, it might have to fix it next at home.
Why would Putin want to do that at when Syria has become a diversion at home where he needs to play up Russia's strength in the world? Better to stick with the old script and keep on raiding the offices of political opponents or drumming up bogus charges against businessmen.
Forget Russia then. When the ground begins to shake below your feet, you stick with your friends.
Though the steamroller of the Information Age is getting closer and closer to their nose, the Putins, the al-Assads and the Ayatollahs of this world are too drunk with power to get out of the way.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
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 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.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


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