US calls for end to 'outrageous' Syria violence

AFP , Thursday 16 Jun 2011

Washington calls on Syrian government to stop using violence against peaceful protesters and allow UN Human Rights Council to investigators the situation in Syria

The United States on Thursday condemned Syria's "outrageous use of violence" in response to a popular uprising, saying it must come to an immediate end.

"The international community has been shocked by the horrific reports of torture and arbitrary arrests, and widespread use of violence against peaceful protesters," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said after nearly 1,300 civilians have been reportedly killed in the regime's bloody crackdown.

Her statement was issued a day after the United States joined 53 other countries at the UN Human Rights Council in piling pressure on Damascus to allow its investigators in to examine the situation in Syria.

"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against peaceful demonstrators. This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now," said Nuland.

In a joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council, states supporting the move urged Syria to "immediately allow the mission of the High Commissioner unfettered access to investigate and establish the facts and circumstances surrounding all violations and abuses of international human rights law."

The council had ordered a probe into the bloodshed in Syria during its April 29 special session on the country.

Since then, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has repeatedly sought access to Syria from President Basher al-Assad's regime, to no avail.

Nuland said the council's statement "further demonstrates the international community's resolve to highlight the ongoing campaign of violence by the Syrian government."

"The Syrian government must demonstrate that it is serious about addressing the Syrian people's desire for freedom and a transition to democracy," she said in urging the regime to uphold individual rights and allow people to protest peacefully.

"The United States strongly supports the universal rights of the Syrian people, including the rights of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, and the ability to determine their own destiny."

Meanwhile, UN investigators are collecting information from outside Syria, with a team currently in southern Turkey where thousands of Syrians have sought refuge in the past week.

The joint council statement read by Canada pointed out that "credible observers provide daily reports of killings, arbitrary detention, and torture of men, women, and children."

"These reports must be independently verified," said the statement, which urged Damascus to "launch a credible and impartial investigation and bring those responsible for unlawful attacks against civilians to justice."

The crackdown in Syria is continuing in the north of the country, with more civilian deaths reported.

The United States has accused Iran of backing Damascus's assault on pro-democracy protesters.

According to a toll released by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Tuesday, the violence has claimed the lives of 1,297 civilians and 340 security force members in Syria since the unrest erupted mid-March.

Short link: