News / Middle East

    Rights Group Criticizes Governments for Failing to Protect Syrians

    Syrians help an injured child following an alleged airstrike by government forces near a school in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Jan. 21, 2014.
    Syrians help an injured child following an alleged airstrike by government forces near a school in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Jan. 21, 2014.
    Lisa Bryant
    On the eve of an international peace conference on Syria, Human Rights Watch has sharply criticized the international community for failing to protect ordinary Syrians from abuses by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.  HRW's latest world report that also criticizes U.S. surveillance tactics, Europe's response to immigrants, and rising authoritarianism in places like Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine.

    Related video report by VOA's Brian Allen:

    Human Rights Watch Blasts World Community on Syriai
    X
    January 21, 2014 6:42 PM
    On the eve of an international peace conference on Syria, Human Rights Watch has sharply criticized the international community for its response to the Syrian conflict. In its annual report released Tuesday, Human Rights Watch also criticized U.S. surveillance programs and rising authoritarianism in Egypt and Ukraine. VOA's Brian Allen has more.
    Human Rights Watch's Executive Director Kenneth Roth said the world community must respond forcefully to mass atrocities committed by the Syrian regime and find ways to unblock humanitarian aid into the country.  Especially, he said, since ending the civil war there is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

    "Atrocities in Syria are not an unfortunate bi-product of the war, they are the way the Syrian government has chosen to fight this war.  This is a war strategy of war crimes, aimed at making life as miserable as possible for civilians in opposition-held areas with the aim of turning civilians against the armed opposition and forcing as many of them as possible to flee," explained Roth.

    Countries invited to Geneva talks on SyriaCountries invited to Geneva talks on Syria
    x
    Countries invited to Geneva talks on Syria
    Countries invited to Geneva talks on Syria
    Roth spoke at a news conference in Berlin at the release of the HRW 2014 world report.  It also described undemocratic tactics used by elected governments in countries like Turkey, Kenya and Ukraine and a rising intolerance toward homosexuals and other minorities.  Roth singled out Egypt - faulting the Muslim Brotherhood government of ex-president Mohamed Morsi, but especially the military that toppled it.

    "It is killing of over 1,000 demonstrators, its detention of thousands upon thousands of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and activists - the ruthless repression visited upon Egypt is worse than we have seen even in the recent years of [former president Hosni] Mubarak," said Roth.

    • Civilians gather after what they said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Jazmati, Aleppo, Jan. 23, 2014.
    • Civilians carry belongings from rubble after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Jazmati, Aleppo, Jan. 23, 2014.
    • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows Syrian residents and rescue workers carrying an injured man after an airstrike in Aleppo, Jan. 23, 2014.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a dead bird as his comrades inspect the damage caused by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Jabal al-Akrad, Latakia, Jan. 23, 2014.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters rest in front of a graffiti that reads 'Surely your Lord's assault is strict indeed' in the old city of Aleppo, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters stand along a deserted street filled with garbage and rubble in the old city of Aleppo, Jan. 22, 2014.
    • Residents inspect a damaged site after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Karam Al-Beik, Aleppo, Jan. 21, 2014.
    • Smoke rises from what activists said were explosive barrels thrown by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Jabal al-Akrad, Latakia, Jan. 20, 2014.
    • Men react as others rush at the site of a car bomb attack at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, in Idlib, Jan. 20, 2014.
    • Men transport a casualty after car bomb attacks at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Syria and Turkey, in Idlib, Jan. 20, 2014.

    Roth also criticized the West.  He slammed Europe for its policies against migrants and minorities like the Roma.  As for the United States, he said President Obama's announced reforms of the National Security Agency do not protect people's basic privacy rights.  He said there is no proof the government's surveillance programs work.

    "There is no evidence that the government has been able to produce demonstrating its mass collection of our communications data has been necessary to stop a single terrorist incident.  Nonetheless, the cost to our privacy has been enormous," he stated.

    This past year has brought some advances. HRW praised the democratic transition in Tunisia, and global efforts to stop crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

    "In each case, there was the deployment or reinforcement of peacekeepers, there was active political engagement and, while none of those problems is solved, in each case there was a serious contribution made to diminishing or avoiding mass atrocities," said Roth.

    HRW also notes examples of ordinary citizens confronting abusive regimes.  It says they offer hope that efforts to curb rights will backfire.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora