Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Massacre of peaceful protesters in Syria : the International Community must act urgently

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies (DCHRS)

Joint press release

Massacre of peaceful protesters in Syria : the
International  Community must act

Bahrain and Yemen’s victims not to be forgotten!


Paris-New York-Geneva, April 27, 2011 – While negotiations
are underway among the members of the United 
Nations Security Council (UNSC) about a possible statement on Syria, the
UN Human Rights Council (HRC) has decided to convene a Special Session on the
human rights situation in Syria on April 29, 2011. “At last, the International
Community seems to be willing to consider its responsibilities towards Syrian
victims” stated Souhayr Belhassen, President of the International Federation
for Human Rights.

The situation in Syria has taken a turn for the worse in an
unprecedented way since the beginning of the protests. According to FIDH and
its member organisation in Syria, the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies
(DCHRS), it has become obvious that international crimes – that fall under the
jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – are being perpetrated
by the Syrian authorities that fully justifies the awakening of the
International community.  However violent
crackdown against protesters by army and security forces is not a Syrian
exception. Bahrain and Yemen are also the scene of fierce repressions. “It is
highly regrettable that Bahrain’s and Yemeni victims are still waiting for such
consideration by the members of the Human rights Council. A selective approach
cannot be a sustainable solution in any case” Souhayr Belhassen added.

Facing a peaceful protest movement since March 16, 2011 the
Syrian authorities have responded to these calls for reforms with increased
violence. As the protests have spread, the response of the security forces has
hardened, leading up to the deployment of tanks in several cities (Deraa, Homs,
Jabla, Douma, Banyas etc.). The use of live ammunition by security forces
against demonstrators has led to the deaths of around 400 people since
mid-March and hundreds are missing and more than 1700 have been detained over
the last three days(1).

The gap between the official stance claiming the adoption of
long awaited reforms including the lift of the state of emergency and issuance
of a law on peaceful demonstrations and the systematic and violent repression
on the ground is more blatant than ever. The International community must
strongly condemn the gross and systematic violation of human rights by the
Syrian authorities and urge them to put an immediate end to the violence. An
independent international commission of inquiry must also be urgently set up in
order to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law
and identify the alleged perpetrators. Those responsible should be brought to
justice.  The UN Security Council should
refer the situation in Syria to the ICC and take other appropriate measures,
such as individual sanctions to halt massive targeting of civilians by the

FIDH welcomes the Special Session of the UN Human Rights
Council. However “it cannot be the only answer to the very serious and deadly
crackdown on Syrian protests. We hope that the UNSC member States will take
urgent and appropriate decisions under their responsibility to protect. The
UNSC must take the lead by contributing to put an end to the widespread acts of
violence against civilians” said Radwan Ziadeh, Director of DCHRS.

(1) See joint press release of the AOHR-S, DAD, NOHRS, MAF
and CDF, Syria : the lift of the State of emergency and the ongoing arbitrary
arrests, April 25, 2011 (in Arabic)

Press contact: Arthur Manet: +33 1 43 55 90 19 / +33 6 72 28
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