News / Middle East

US Says Syrian Repression Only Spurs More Unrest

In this citizen journalism image made on a mobile phone, Syrian anti-government protesters gather in the coastal town of Banias, May 6, 2011
In this citizen journalism image made on a mobile phone, Syrian anti-government protesters gather in the coastal town of Banias, May 6, 2011

The United States said Tuesday repression by Syrian authorities against pro-democracy protests only strengthens the resolve of government opponents. The comments follow an assertion by a Damascus official that President Bashar al-Assad may have ridden out the worst of the crisis facing his government.

The State Department says its own reading of the Syrian situation contradicts the notion that the protest movement is receding, and it says the Assad government cannot escape “eventual accountability” for its violent tactics.

The comments here follow an assertion by a close adviser of President Assad, in a New York Times interview, that the Damascus government has “passed the most dangerous moment” of the ongoing crisis.

The Syrian official, Assad confidante and occasional spokeswoman Bouthaina Shabaan, told a Times reporter allowed into Syria only to interview her that she hopes, as she put it, that “we are witnessing the end of the story” with regard to the popular uprising.

While initially promising reforms, the Assad government has cracked down on protests which erupted in March with increasing ferocity, with Syrian civil rights groups saying at least 630 civilians have been killed and thousands arrested.

At a news briefing, State department Acting Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. embassy in Damascus has a different view from Shabaan about the trend of events in Syria, and he said the violent crackdown only stiffens the resolve of protesters. “What’s apparent from events of past weeks is that the Syrian government’s repression in towns like Der’aa and Banias simply stirs up new violence, and frankly strengthens the resolve of the Syrian people's  demands. I would add that false government claims of reforms, such as lifting the emergency law which expanding the number of persons arbitrarily arrested, is also no answer to Syria’ problems," he said.

Toner said accountability for the actions of Syrian officials would come from, among other things, the investigation of Syrian tactics against protestors ordered late last month by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The United States and key European allies have enacted  sanctions against Syrian officials including relatives of President Assad implicated in serious rights abuses.

The Syrian president himself has not been targeted thus far but Toner said the possibility of additional U.S. sanctions remains on the table.

At an event capping a senior-level U.S.-China political dialogue that included U.S. criticism of Chinese human rights practices, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed support for the Middle East democracy movement. “The United States supports the aspirations that the people of the Middle East and North Africa have expressed for more freedom, for more opportunity, for a better future for themselves and their families. And  we will continue to support the people of the region as they try to realize those aspirations during this transition period," she said.

Clinton said last week in Rome world powers must show the Syrian government that there are consequences for what she called a "brutal crackdown" on civilians. But she also said a chance remains for the Assad government to live up to its stated commitment to reforms.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid