UN High Human Rights chief denounces Syrian Government crackdown
Peaceful protestors have been violently attacked in Syria, according to reports from the UN Office for Human Rights. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human rights, says there is a need for genuine national dialogue but this cannot happen while live rounds are being fired by security forces on the streets and activists are being rounded up. Gerry Adams reports.
The Syrian Government’s response to peaceful protests, says UN Human Rights chief Navi Pilay, is unacceptable and must stop immediately.
She was reacting to reports her office received that 76 people were killed on Friday during evidently peaceful marches. That number may be considerably higher and the human rights office is also looking into the reported killing of at least 13 other people during funeral processions on Saturday.
Ravina Shamdasani is a Press Officer with the UN human rights office.
“Ms. Pillay condemns as erratic and violent the response to peaceful protests in Syria. It is very surprising that the Government has announced a series of reforms, but then they follow up on these words with actions such as violent crackdowns on protestors, including the use of live ammunition against them.”
Protests in Syria are the latest in a series of demonstrations that have occurred in North Africa and the Middle East by citizens seeking improved human rights.
Ms. Pillay said the Government has an international legal obligation to protect peaceful demonstrators, as well as the right to peaceful protest itself.
Last week, following a meeting with Syrian Government representatives, Ms. Pillay noted the Government had announced the lifting of a state of emergency in force for decades and the abolition of the dreaded High State Security Court. She had also urged the amendment of other laws that obstruct fundamental freedoms.
But the violence and ongoing repression of activists, she continued, indicate that either the Government is not serious about reforms or it is unable to control its own security forces. Ravina Shamdasani.
“And she has called for the government to stop the killings immediately, to initiate an investigation, a process of accountability and a process of meaningful dialogue.”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the country’s authorities to stop the bloodshed and respect international human rights. He has also stressed the need for an independent, transparent and effective investigation into the killings.
Gerry Adams, United Nations.