Sunjeev Bery on Sky News Arabia
Yesterday, I joined the team at Sky News Arabia for a live discussion of the latest report on Syria by an independent UN panel. Special thanks to Sky News producer Arwa Sawan, reporter Joseph Khawly, and anchor Amer Abdel Aziz for giving Amnesty International USA an opportunity to share our analysis of the grave human rights situation.
The report (PDF) is a catalog of violence, suffering, and geopolitical developments, focusing on events between January 15th and May 15th of this year. It was produced by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Citizen video coming out of Syria continues to uncover abuses that would otherwise go unnoticed (Photo Credit: ZAC BAILLIE/AFP/Getty Images)
As the Syrian crisis hits its two-year mark, the toll on civilians continues to grow exponentially. Peaceful protests that started in March 2011 were quickly met by government authorities responding with deadly force, leading to systematic and widespread human rights violations amounting to crimes against humanity. Followed by the escalation into a full-fledged armed conflict by mid-2012, today, both government and armed opposition forces continue pursuing a military solution to the conflict. Caught in the middle are civilians, paying a horrendous price for this deadly stalemate.
Based on field research conducted over the last weeks, an Amnesty researcher inside Syria uncovered new evidence of the government’s assault on civilians, and its outright disregard for the laws of war. This is most dramatically symbolized by the government’s recent ballistic missile strikes against eastern Aleppo, flattening entire blocks and killing 160 residents; or by the increased use of internationally banned cluster bombs.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
A child in a field hospital in Aleppo, Syria after sustaining injuries in a cluster bomb attack by the Syrian armed forces on a residential area on March 1, 2013.
By Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Adviser
In a field hospital, which I won’t name for security reasons – too many field hospitals have been bombed already – a little boy of 7, Abdo al-Dik, was shaking like a leaf and moaning in pain with deep lacerations to his abdomen and legs.
Relatives had just collected his 3-year-old brother Nizar’s body for burial. Another brother, 8-year-old Subhi, was still missing as of 6 p.m.
In the same hospital room, 6-year-old Mustafa Ali was lying in a bed with shrapnel injuries to the head, neck and shoulders – alone and waiting for someone from his family to come find him. He told me that he was visiting his relatives when the air strike happened; a neighbor said that the child’s relatives were badly injured and he did not know whether they had survived.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Syrian men look at a destroyed Syrian army tank parked outside the Azaz mosque, north of the restive city of Aleppo, on August 2, 2012. (c) AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GettyImages
News reports coming out of Aleppo paint a grim picture of the confrontation between opposition fighters and the Syrian armed forces, who are describing this as the “decisive battle”. If the past 16 months are any indication, we have to brace ourselves for a new wave of human rights violations, as well as grave breaches of international humanitarian law. As has been extensively documented by Amnesty International and others, the atrocities committed in Syria have steadily continued to climb.
For example, one of my colleagues who recently returned from Aleppo, documented crimes we believe amount to crimes against humanity. Her reporting from late May describes how government security forces and the notorious government-backed shabiha militias routinely used live fire against peaceful demonstrations in Aleppo, killing and injuring protesters and bystanders, including children, and hunting down the wounded, the medics who treated them, and opposition activists. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Syrian protester in Aleppo, Syria D. Leal Olivas/AFP/GettyImages
By Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior adviser on crisis response
Editor’s Note: Rovera has reported from numerous conflict zones on human rights violations since 1991, and has traveled inside Syria several times over the past two months to document human rights abuses. An op-ed by Rovera, Why Syria Feels Abandoned, was published May 30, 2012 in the Washington Post.
Every protest I observed during three days in Aleppo ended the same way: with the army, security forces and shabiha – the infamous militias who do some of the government’s dirty work – opening fire on non-violent demonstrators who posed no threats to them (or to anybody else).
On Friday May 25, at least seven people were killed, at least two of them were children, and dozens more were injured at demonstrations and funerals in the city.
Among those killed was Amir Barakat, a 13-year old schoolboy, who was fatally shot in the abdomen. Eyewitnesses told me that he was walking near his home as demonstrators were running away from the security forces who were shooting towards them. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST