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July 14, 2011

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SYRIA-The authorities should stop waging war against their people

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

Copenhagen, July 12, 2011. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) strongly condemns the Syrian authorities’ continued campaign of repression against the peaceful protest movement, and is alarmed by the repeated attacks against civilians.

On Friday, July 8, thousands of people took to the streets of most cities in the country to express their solidarity with victims of the regime violence, their democratic aspiration and the rejection of the “national dialogue” initiative launched by the regime. The security services and militias "Chabiha" once again opened fire with live ammunition to disperse the demonstrators. In parallel, the security services continued to conduct massive campaigns of arbitrary arrests, particularly in the suburbs of Damascus and in Homs , and to systematically torture people. 

The same day, the armed forces attacked demonstrators gathered in Harasta (near Damascus) using bombs containing metal objects, a weapon designed to cause maximum casualties, the use of which is prohibited by international law under all circumstances. A medical source reported dozens of injured, mutilated in various degrees. According to eyewitnesses, the security services attacked the injured and conducted numerous arrests.

To crackdown the protest movement, the Syrian authorities repeatedly used military means against civilian populations. Tanks have been successively deployed on the outskirts of many cities where demonstrations were held to support the security services raids on dwellings, and bombings were carried out indiscriminately. 

"The Syrian regime is no longer content to crackdown the protest movement, it has declared war on his people," said Kamel Jendoubi , EMHRN President, "the massive and systematic repression, repeated resort to military means against civilians in violation of all principles of international humanitarian law clearly shows that crimes against humanity are being committed in Syria . "

To date, many cities and villages are besieged by the army, leading to an alarming deterioration of the humanitarian situation. In Banyas and its surrounding villages, the population lacks basic products and medicines. The EMHRN is concerned about the absence of independent control that would ensure that humanitarian aid is effectively delivered to its recipients.

Since the beginning of the repression, at least 1,600 civilians were killed by the security services, in addition more than 13,000 people were detained or subjected to enforced disappearance. The discovery of mass graves in several parts of the country has raised fears of even a heavier death toll, while the authorities continue to deny independent observers access to the country. 

The EMHRN strongly condemns the massive human rights violations perpetrated by the Syrian authorities against the civilian population and stressing that international law prohibits the use of armed force against unarmed civilians.

The EMHRN expresses its support to the peaceful protestors in Syria and recognizes the legitimacy of their demands. It urges the Syrian authorities to put an immediate end to acts of violence on the population, to withdraw the army from the cities, to release all prisoners of conscience and to guarantee the right of citizens to demonstrate peacefully.   

The EMHRN demands that the Syrian authorities allow humanitarian organizations, international and Arab media and independent observers to visit the country and work freely. The Syrian government should in particular grant unrestricted access to the country for the fact-finding mission established under the authority of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (resolution S-16/1, 29 April). 

The EMHRN urges the EU and the international community to push for the accountability of persons who are involved in severe human rights violations in Syria , in particular by increasing pressures to obtain a resolution at the UN Security Council in order to refer allegation of crimes against humanity to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

For more information, please contact

Henriette Irminger Sonne (French, English): + 45 30 82 83 37

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