News

    UN Panel: Syrians Victims of Military Attacks

    The head of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria Paulo Pinheiro (file photo)
    The head of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria Paulo Pinheiro (file photo)
    Margaret Besheer

    The head of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria says his investigators are finding that Syrians are increasingly victims of military attacks on towns and villages.  Earlier in the crisis, victims of the Syrian crackdown tended to be involved in anti-government protests.

    The three-member panel is headed by Paulo Pinheiro, a Brazilian human rights expert.  He told reporters that in the last week his investigators in the region have conducted 70 interviews and found a shift in the type of violence that has claimed more than 8,000 Syrian lives in the last year.

    “There is something different that I would like  to stress: it seems to our colleagues that less people interviewed were victims of the excessive use of force during the quelling of protests, while more and more people appear to be killed or injured in the context of military operations against entire villages," said Pinheiro.

    He said such attacks appear to be motivated by the pursuit of armed groups or the decision to collectively punish the population of an entire village.  He said in some cases, people reported that the village was warned it would be shelled if wanted persons did not surrender.  Pinheiro stressed that this is a new development which they are investigating further.

    The commissioners also expressed concern about growing numbers of refugees in Lebanon and Turkey. The U.N. refugee agency has registered about 15,000 Syrians in Lebanon and 16,000 in Turkey.  A similar number are believed to be in Jordan.

    Commission member Karen AbuZayd said that previously, individuals and families were fleeing Syria, but now entire neighborhoods are doing so.

    “Now because of what is happening with the battles and the whole cities being emptied, people are coming out as whole groups and in greater numbers as whole villages and so on," said AbuZayd.

    The panel noted the increasing number of high-level defections in the Syrian military, including at least four brigadier generals, as an interesting development.  They also said they had testimony that during the visit of Arab League observers to Syria in January, some doctors were instructed to drug their patients so they would be unconscious during the monitors’ hospital visits.

    The commission has not been granted access to Syria, but Pinheiro said this has not stopped the gathering of reliable information.  In addition to interviews with refugees and others with first-hand, verifiable information on the situation, Pinheiro said the commission has also utilized a lot of satellite information.

    The commission was appointed last September and has produced two reports. The first said Syrian forces under government orders may have committed crimes against humanity in different parts of the country.

    On Friday, the U.N. Human Rights Council extended the mandate of the commission of inquiry for another six months.  Friday’s vote in the 47-member Geneva-based Human Rights Council was 41 states in favor, two abstentions and three votes against - Russia, China and Cuba.  One delegation was absent.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: hamad part 3 of 3
    March 25, 2012 11:07 PM
    faint which implicated this turmoil . Human Right Watch can not watch except what Israel wants it to watch . The good thing here is all fake masks have fallen down rapidly . If the opposition got enough supporters, Basher would not remain in presidency more than Mubarak who has been the best ally of Israel and Paulo Pinheiro.

    by: hamad part 2 of 3
    March 25, 2012 11:07 PM
    held them responsibilities too and given Bashar plea to continue his crackdown . Syria Paulo , Anna and Susan Rice have got the same mentality which turned UN as well as NATO to private company serves the interests of wars brokers. Collectively punish has been exerted against restricted Palestinians since ages , so why have not you opened you mouth to take about their rights ? There are so many claims in this article but media impact has become

    by: hamad part 1 of 3
    March 25, 2012 11:06 PM
    I have just read that Israel intends to block UN mission to investigate settlements activity in the occupied territories . Who works for others here ? By they way, It blocked commentaries in that article too. We are dealing with bunch of extremists who have been armed with Nuke weapons and could blow up our galaxy in any second . UN should turned to Knesset instead of hiding under lying and empty slogans . Syria Paulo forgot that they have already armed the opposition which has

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora