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Britain said Thursday it had withdrawn all of its diplomatic personnel from Syria because of security concerns.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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs