News / Middle East

UN Rights Council to Probe Syrian Violence

Overview of the special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation in Syria in Geneva August 22, 2011.
Overview of the special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation in Syria in Geneva August 22, 2011.

The U.N. Human Rights Council has ordered an investigation into possible rights violations committed by Syrian security forces during a deadly crackdown against dissent.

The 47-member council voted Tuesday to approve a resolution by a 33 - 4 margin, with the rest of the members abstaining.  China and Russia were among those that opposed the measure, saying it was an unnecessary intervention.

Crackdown

The council's action comes a day after witnesses and rights groups said Syrian forces killed eight people as thousands of anti-government protesters taunted President Bashar al-Assad.

The witnesses said several hundred people converged on the main square in the central city of Homs Monday after a U.N. humanitarian team visited the town. Pro-government troops fired on the protesters, many of whom had shouted "Gadhafi is gone; now it is your turn, Bashar!" Six people were reported killed.

Similar demonstrations were held in other Syrian cities, including Hama, where two more civilians were reported killed.

Criticism

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pillay (File)
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navy Pillay (File)

Earlier Monday, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, said the Syrian government has resorted to an apparent "shoot-to-kill" policy against civilians. She told the U.N. Human Rights Council that more than 2,200 people have been killed in the unrest. The U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, also briefed the council Monday, saying the "threshold of systematic and widespread violence has clearly been reached."

All four Arab nations on the U.N. body - Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - joined calls condemning the violence and urged Syria to cooperate with an international investigation on whether crimes against humanity have been committed in the country. The U.N. team in Homs had been granted permission to visit some of the protest centers to assess the humanitarian situation in those locations.

Assad

Also Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it is "troubling" that Assad has not kept his word about ending the brutal military crackdown in his country.

Ban told reporters in New York that the Syrian president assured him in a recent phone conversation that military operations had stopped.

The Syrian leader has defended his crackdown by describing the opposition as armed gangs and terrorists. He also said criticism from Western countries means nothing to him.

The United States, the European Union and other Western powers have said that Assad must step down.

The Syrian leader repeated plans to introduce reforms, adding that he expects new elections for Syria's national assembly in six months. He said that laws on the establishment of new political parties will be ready in the next few days, and that people who want to create a new party will have a 45-day period to apply through a committee.

 

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
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 After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid