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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid