Thursday, April 14, 2011

Syria: Rein in security forces after violent crackdown

Amnesty International
14 April 2011

"Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must rein in his security forces and prevent further unlawful killings, Amnesty International said today, as the coastal city of Banias remained under virtual lockdown and the army was reported to have detained all males over 15 in the nearby village of al-Baydah. “The human rights crisis in Syria is growing by the day, almost by the hour,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa. “The government appears intent on trying to crush all dissent using the most repressive meansshooting peaceful protesters, carrying out mass arrests and locking down areas where people have dared to call for reform. This has to stop. Syria’s President must make it stop.” Amnesty International has received lists naming at least 200 people who have been killed since protests began in Syria on 18 March, but the true number may be much higher. Most of the dead were shot by the security forces or men in plain clothes acting alongside them using live ammunition, though the government claims that opposition “armed gangs” are the chief culprits. “The government’s claims and denials do not ring true. They are strongly contradicted by eyewitness accounts that we have received from the centres of unrest – Dera’a, Damascus, Latakia and now Banias – which speak of government snipers shooting protesters and other use of lethal force, resulting in unlawful killings,” said Malcolm Smart. “The way to determine the truth is to ensure that an independent, full and thorough investigation is urgently conducted. This is what international law requires when such grave human rights violations are reported, but the Syrian authorities have yet to order such an inquiry and live up to their international obligations.”....

Despite consistent calls from Amnesty International to investigate mass political killings carried out in the past, Syrian authorities have never made public any details of investigations or disciplinary measures carried out."

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