Thursday, January 12, 2012

Syria: Army Shoots Protesters Attempting to Reach Observers

Arab League Should Protect Civilians Or Reconsider Its Mission

Human Rights Watch
January 11, 2012

"The Arab League should urgently condemn the Syrian security forces for shooting peaceful protesters who were attempting to reach its observers in the northern city of Jisr al-Shughur, Human Rights Watch said today. In light of these and other blatant violations of the agreement it brokered with the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, the Arab League should report publicly on its findings and assess whether its mission should continue.

Two protesters who were wounded in Jisr al-Shughur and fled to southern Turkey told Human Rights Watch in face-to-face interviews that around 11 a.m. on January 10, 2012, they marched towards the Baath party square (re-named “Freedom Square” by the protesters) to meet with Arab League observers present there. According to the witnesses, when they approached a checkpoint on the way to the square, army personnel barred them from proceeding and, after the protesters refused to disperse, opened fire on the crowd, injuring at least nine protesters. The Arab League observers were in the Baath party square, but left in a car after the shooting began, the witnesses said. Despite several attempts, Human Rights Watch has not been able to contact the Arab League observers to confirm whether they witnessed the incident.

Such incidents, and the ever rising death toll, clearly demonstrate that the presence of Arab League observers has done little to compel the Syrian authorities to stop their crimes,” said Anna Neistat, associate emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “As President Assad derides the Arab League in his speeches, his troops are making a mockery of its observers’ mission on the ground.”....."

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