News

    UN Rights Council Condemns Syrian Crackdown

    Free Syrian Army supporters chant anti government slogans under snowfall on the outskirts of Idlib, Syria, Feb. 29, 2012.
    Free Syrian Army supporters chant anti government slogans under snowfall on the outskirts of Idlib, Syria, Feb. 29, 2012.

    The United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned what it calls "widespread and systematic violations of human rights" by the Syrian government, and reiterated the "urgent" need address the humanitarian situation in the country.

    At a session Thursday in Geneva, the council adopted a resolution calling on President Bashar al-Assad's government to immediately halt "all human rights violations" and attacks against civilians.  It highlighted the recent deaths of Syrian and foreign journalists, as well as interference in people getting access to medical care.

    Vetoes


    Russia, China and Cuba voted against the measure.

    Russia and China have twice vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown on a nearly year-long opposition uprising.

    The U.S. envoy to the council, Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, said there is an "overwhelming international consensus" on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and that "the vote speaks for itself."

    "I think the isolation of China, Russia and Cuba is sad, but it was expected," she said.  "And I think that the meaning of this vote is almost as important for those three countries as it is for the Assad regime.  They are on the wrong side of history, and I think this outcome may help them begin to understand that they're in the wrong."

    Meeting planned


    Kuwaiti officials said Thursday Arab foreign ministers will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov next week in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to discuss the crisis in Syria.

    Britain said Thursday it had withdrawn all of its diplomatic personnel from Syria because of security concerns.

    The developments come a day after the U.S. State Department summoned Syria's senior diplomat in Washington to express outrage at the government's month-long bombardment of the city of Homs.

    New envoy

    Kofi Annan, the newly-appointed U.N.-Arab League joint envoy for Syria, said Wednesday he will soon travel to Syria to push President Bashar al-Assad to engage in dialogue with the opposition.

    At a joint news conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, he said it is "regrettable" Syria has not granted humanitarian workers access to trapped civilians, and said his first priority is bringing an end to the violence.

    The former U.N. chief is due to begin his first visit to the region as a Syria envoy by holding talks with Arab League head Nabil Elaraby in Cairo.

    Help from Iran

    Also Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a congressional committee that Assad is getting help from others in the region.

    "There is little doubt that Iran is strongly supporting Assad and his regime," Clinton said.  "The details about what they are or are not doing, we could provide what we know in a classified session, but you are absolutely right that Iran has a lot invested in Assad and will do whatever it can to keep him in power."

    Homs under attack

    Syrian security forces launched a ground assault Wednesday in Homs, where activists said the fighting involved the elite 4th Armored Division and the rebel Free Syrian Army.

    A Syrian official vowed that Baba Amr neighborhood would be "cleansed" within hours.  But an activist in the district told VOA via Skype that rebel lines have held.

    Syrian rights groups said at least 15 people were killed in violence related to the uprising on Wednesday.

    The Baba Amr activist, who uses the pseudonym Abo Emad, told VOA he had witnessed about 16 government soldiers abandon their tanks and defect to the opposition Wednesday.  He said rebel sources told him more desertions were taking place as troops enter the city and blend in with the local population.

    Abo Emad also said pro-Assad regular troops and Shabiha militiamen were raiding houses in Homs' wealthy al-Inshaat neighborhood, stealing personal effects and setting fire to the targeted homes.  VOA cannot independently confirm opposition or government reports.

    The U.N. says more than 7,500 people have been killed since the revolt began last March.  Syrian officials blame the uprising on foreign-backed armed "terrorists" who, the government says, have killed more than 2,000 security personnel.

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

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    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 Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    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 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 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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora