200 NGOs press Russia after year of Syria violence
A coalition of 200 human rights watchdogs urged Russia to back UN action to end the bloodshed in Syria, in a joint statement issued on Thursday marking one year since the violence erupted.
“A coalition of 200 NGOs from 27 countries… is demanding that the UN Security Council immediately unite and pass a resolution calling on the Syrian government to stop indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighbourhoods and other violations of international law, stop arbitrary arrests and torture and grant urgent access to humanitarian workers, journalists and human rights monitors,” the statement said.
The call for the international community to “Unite for Syria: Stop one year of bloodshed” was backed by activists across the world, as well as celebrities including British actor Stephen Fry and Canadian singer Nelly Furtado.
“For a full year, the death toll in Syria has escalated to the horrifying total of more than 8,000 dead, including hundreds of children. Isn’t it time for the world to unite behind effective steps to stop this now?” said Ziad Abdel Tawab of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights.
The Institute signed the statement along with the New York-based Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, CIVICUS and the International Federation of Human Rights.
“Russia and China have twice blocked Security Council action, a defence of Assad that he has interpreted as a licence to kill,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.
“Moscow and Beijing should stop providing diplomatic cover for Syrian atrocities, and start demanding an end to indiscriminate shelling and attacks on peaceful protesters,” he said, quoted in the statement.
The NGOs called on the UN Security Council to demand the Syrian regime stop shelling protesters; urged the international community to back envoy Kofi Annan; demanded humanitarian access to areas in need of aid; and appealed for the “Friends of Syria” coalition to uphold its aid pledges.
“The Syrian people have survived with outstanding courage one year of systematic and widespread crimes and bloodshed as the world stood by and watched. The international community must unite and help Syrians bring an end to the horror,” said Souher Belhassen, president of the International Federation for Human Rights.