Monday 2 January 2012

Syrian leaders must be punished

The United Nations Human Rights Council strongly condemned Syria on the 30th of December 2011 for gross and systematic violations by its forces, including executions that it said may amount to crimes against humanity. The 47-member forum adopted a resolution put forward by the European Union (EU) by a vote of 37 states in favor, four against including China and Russia, with six abstentions.

The text called for the ‘main bodies’ of the United Nations to consider a U.N. report which found that crimes of humanity had been committed and take appropriate action against the leaders of Syria.

The meeting was called to address the findings of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, appointed by the Human Rights Council earlier last year, which said 307 children had been killed since the March crackdown.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing slaughter, arbitrary arrest and torture of peaceful protesters,” U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said at the council’s third emergency meeting called to discuss Syria since the repression began in March.

A U.N.-appointed investigative panel found widespread killings and abuse of dissidents since the start of the crackdown, which has claimed more than 4,000 lives, according to the United Nations.

“November was the deadliest month so far with 56 children killed,” said the head of the panel, citing “reliable sources.” “To date, 307 children were killed by state forces,” Paulo Pinheiro told the Geneva-based body.

One former soldier who said he decided to defect after witnessing an officer shoot a 2-year-old girl in Latakia, then claim he killed her so she wouldn't grow up to be a demonstrator. The Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram reported in its English edition that "there are dozens of video footage of bodies of children from Deraa, Homs, Latakia and other Syrian areas showing severe signs of torture, pulled-out nails, gorged eyes and severed limbs." Despite international pressure, the Syrian regime does not hesitate to describe these young and innocent victims as "terrorist infiltrators."

In May 2011, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, who was only 13 years old, was among the many Syrian children to have been killed by the Syrian security apparatus. After his death, he became the symbol of the Syrian regime's brutality. It was revealed that the young boy was killed after being tortured, "suffering numerous fractures and broken bones." The Globe and Mail wrote, "His jaw and both kneecaps had been smashed. His flesh was covered with cigarette burns. His penis had been cut off.

Other injuries appeared to be consistent with the use of electroshock devices and being whipped with a cable." A video of his mutilated body circulated on the Internet, raising criticism from all over the world against the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

Asharq Al-Awsat reports that other Syrian children were subjected to torture prior to death, among them Tamer al-Shari, aged 15, Abdullah Jeha of Homs, aged 13, Malik al-Masri, aged 17, and Nasser al-Saba, aged 16. "Reports that the Syrian security forces have tortured and killed children in their custody would, if confirmed, mark a new low in their bloody repression of protests," said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program.

Many other children have been victims of the regime's brutality. Some of them were shot in demonstrations or at home with their families, others died by suffocation from tear-gas, still others have been abducted. Al-Ahram reports that Moussa Al-Wadi, aged 12, was shot in the head, rendering him brain-dead. In August, in the capital Damascus, 25 members of security forces and death squads chased 15-year-old Ramy into a mosque. The Egyptian weekly writes that "soon afterwards protesters in a nearby street heard a single shot". Ramy's mother is still awaiting his return.

In May, Hajar Taysir al-Khatib, aged 10, was instead killed after being run over by a Syrian security forces vehicle. She was soon after named by the Syrian opposition as "the flower of Syria's martyrs." Hamza Balla, aged 10, was also killed after being hit by an Army's vehicle. Al Ahram reports that some infants died in hospitals after Syrian authorities deliberately cut off power there. "Activists said that more than 20 infants died in their incubators because of the power outage," the weekly states.

Asharq Al-Awsat also reports that a large number of Syrian children became prey of organ harvesting; some Syrian children were even abducted from hospitals prior to death. In July, Umar Hama-Kazo, aged 12, was killed by security forces and his dead body was taken away by those forces. Murshid Abu Zayed, aged 18, was killed after being abducted from the hospital and his body was found to be missing some of his organs.

At the summit on December 30th, Syria’s ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui gave an angry speech that even won support from Russia, China and Cuba. “The Syrian problem is one that can be resolved only by Syrians. It is only a domestic, national solution that is possible,” he said, referring to reforms promised for 2012.
“The solution cannot come from the corridors of the international community,” he said. “It is only resolutions trying to put more oil on the fire.”

It didn’t surprise me one bit that Russia, China and Cuba supported the statement of the Syrian ambassador. These three countries have for many generations been abusing their own people.

On that same day, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to quit, adding to growing global pressure on the regime over its crackdown on dissidents. Biden told the Hurriyet Daily, “The United States’ position on Syria is clear. The Syrian regime must end its brutality against its own people and President Assad must step down so a peaceful transition that respects the will of the people can take place.” The vice president called for a peaceful transition in Syria, saying: “Lasting stability can come when there is a government that listens to its people and addresses their needs, rather than turning their guns on them.”

Wilfred Penfield, a neurosurgeon said, “In all the studies of the brain, no mechanism has been discovered that can force the mind to think or individuals to believe anything.” unquote If Biden believes that Bashar-al-Assad, the Syrian butcher will listen to the people of Syria, then Biden’s brain needs a closer examination to see if he really can think.

Europe and the United States tightened economic sanctions on Syria the 29th of December, including bans on exporting gas and oil industry equipment and trading Syrian government bonds in an effort to choke off funding.

Biden also praised Turkey’s “real” leadership on Syria under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ankara also hosts Syrian army defectors and an umbrella opposition group, the Syrian National Council. “Turkey has been a real leader on this issue. I commend Prime Minister Erdogan’s recent call for Mr. Assad to step down because of the regime’s treatment of its people, as well as Turkish leaders’ calls for others in the international community to support the Syrian people,” he said. Turkey, a traditional NATO ally of Washington, announced tough sanctions on the Syrian regime including a freeze on trade and a break in links with the Syrian central bank. The United States and its Western allies are leading a campaign to isolate Assad over the bloody crackdown.

European Union chair Poland told the U.N. rights council that those guilty of abuses must be prosecuted. “Perpetrators of the human rights violations must be held to account, in particular those who committed crimes that may warrant the attention of the International Criminal Court,” ambassador Remigiusz Henczel said. “This report deserves full consideration not only by this council, but by all relevant U.N. bodies, including the Security Council,” he added. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay added her voice to widespread fears that the crackdown has brought the country to the brink of civil war. “The Syrian authorities’ continual ruthless repression, if not stopped now, can drive the country into a fully fledged civil war,” she told the opening of the meeting. Pillay repeated a call to the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the ICC.

However Russian ambassador Valery Loshchinin said the global community had been given a “one-sided” report of events in Syria. That statement is utter nonsense.

Tens of thousands marched in protests across Syria calling for Turkey to create a buffer zone to protect civilians, activists said. In the Deir Baalba district of Homs protesters also called for the overthrow of President Assad and urged Western powers to impose a buffer zone on Syria’s borders.

The largest protests were held in the central Homs province and in the northern town of Hama, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “In 17 districts (in the city of) Homs and at least nine neighboring towns, tens of thousands of people called for the creation of a buffer zone to ensure their protection,” Abdel Rahman told AFP.

Witnesses told AFP Syrian troops also fired across the border into Lebanon, wounding three people among refugees who had fled an attack on the village of Tal Kalakh on December 30th which the Observatory said left dozens injured.

Obviously not enough is being done to protect the people of Syria from their butcher and his minions. Here is what I propose should be done.

Close all borders so that only refugees can exit Syria. No vehicles should be permitted to enter or leave Syria.

Ban all flights in and out of Syria.

All nations should cancel any trade agreements with Syria.

No bank transactions should be permitted that will transfer money in or out of Syria.

No Syrian leaders and generals should be permitted to leave Syria for any reason whatsoever.

All Syrian embassies and consulates world-wide should be closed and the Syrian staff of these institutions should be sent back to Syria.

All oil contracts should be suspended.

All foreign companies doing business with Syria should be ordered to cease doing business with Syria until further notice.

Warrants for the arrest of Syrian leaders and generals accused of human rights violations should be issued.

Any nations that ignore these sanctions and comes to the aid of the Syrian leaders and generals should suffer consequences, beginning with sanctions.

Now I am aware that this will create hardship for the people of Syria but they are already enduring hardship under the regime of their butcher.

The United Nations and NATO should assist the people of Syria to overthrow their butcher in the same way that as what was done in Libya.

The world community should not stand by and merely wring their hands in hopes that the butcher will change his ways. Even if he did change his ways, he will always be answerable to the International Criminal Court and that is why he really has no intention of quitting what he is already doing.

A verse in the Bible says, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth.” unquote However, they do make better time when their pursuers are close behind them.

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