The Chilling Words of Syria’s President

Assad speech Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gives a rare rare televised speech delivered in parliament on June 3, 2012. Assad said that his government faces a foreign plot to destroy Syria, and blamed 'monsters' for the Houla massacre. (Photo Louai Beshara/AFP/GettyImages)

Yesterday, Syrian President Bashar Assad justified his government’s actions by comparing himself to a doctor trying to save a patient.  As reported by the Associated Press,  Assad stated in a speech:

When a surgeon in an operating room … cuts and cleans and amputates, and the wound bleeds, do we say to him your hands are stained with blood?  Or do we thank him for saving the patient?

The disturbing words come against a backdrop of horrifying violence.  Amnesty International has received the names of nearly 10,000 people killed since the government began cracking down on peaceful protestors over a year ago.  Although peaceful demonstrations have continued, the unrest has turned increasingly violent. Armed opposition groups, many loosely under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), have also carried out attacks — mainly against Syrian security forces.

To make matters worse, local human rights NGOs in recent months have received the names of over 18,000 Syrians who have been detained by Syrian authorities, and they have said that the number of actual detainees could be double.  Torture and brutality are all likely experiences for anyone held by the Syria authorities today.

Because there has been no international consensus yet on action, those perpetrating violence and destruction in Syria are comfortable that they can continue to behave as though they are above the law.

Abuses by opposition forces have also been reported.  These abuses haved included the torture or killing of captured members of the Syrian army, security forces, and pro-government gangs known as shabiha — as well as perceived supporters of the government and suspected informers. In some parts of the country, the situation appears to have evolved into a non-international armed conflict between government and opposition forces.

On Friday, the UN Human Rights Council held a special session to focus on the human rights crisis in Syria.  The call for the session was backed by 51 nations, and it came in the aftermath of the recent attack by Syrian forces on the Syrian town of Houla, in which 108 individuals were killed, including 50 children.  Sources have told Amnesty International that on May 25th, the residential area of Teldo in Houla came under a barrage of shells, mortars, and rockets, as well as raids.

My colleagues in London and Geneva described the following events in a statement submitted to the Council on the eve of the UN special session:

According to the eye witness, artillery shells and rockets were fired into areas of Houla by the Syrian military from around 8pm on Friday until around midnight, at times falling at the rate of one per minute. Sixty-two of those killed were from the Abd al-Razaq family in Teldo. All had been shot dead, except for a few children whose skulls had been smashed, presumably by rifle butts.

In the aftermath of the assault, the UN Human Rights Council voted to condemn the violence. The vote was 41 in favor of the condemnation, 3 against and 2 abstentions.  Uganda and Ecuador abstained, and Russia, China, and Cuba all voted against the measure.   Both Russia and China have been consistent obstacles to UN action to stop the violence in Syria.  You can urge Russian diplomats to change their position by emailing the Russian government today. 

Amnesty International is calling on the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo that will stop the transfer of arms and equipment to Syrian government forces.  We are also calling on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and to freeze the assets abroad of the Syrian President and his senior associates.

Unfortunately, Russia and China have both used their threatened vetoes at the UN Security Council to block such actions.  Not only that, but other UN Security Council members have yet to support referring the matter to the ICC.  As my colleague Donatella Rovera stated in The Washington Post:

Because there has been no international consensus yet on action, those perpetrating violence and destruction in Syria are comfortable that they can continue to behave as though they are above the law.

Which brings us back to the reported words of Assad — profoundly disturbing talk of blood, amputation, and “saving the patient.”

In a climate of impunity, anything becomes possible.

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15 thoughts on “The Chilling Words of Syria’s President

    • Yas! If only he wasn't a doctor everything would be fine!

      p s Assad picks his nose too!

  1. Wow, Assad gives a whole speech and you take one sentence out of context and build a whole narrative around it – how honest! Then again, what should we expect from an organization run by the US State Department and funded by convicted criminal, Wall Street speculator George Soros' "Open Society Institute?" Don't forget to mention the fact that in 2007, according to Seymour Hersh in his article "The Redirection" the US Saudis and Israelis were arming and staging sectarian extremists to carry out this bloodbath to begin with. They even knew Houla-style massacres would be the result!

  2. Brasil,tome posição, o tempo de negociação ja passou.
    Get out Assad

  3. I tell you what! Amnesty is a bullshit! I posted something here, no insults no offensive attack, only a negative opinion about the site. It's not posted!

    Amnesty is a political movement, not a humanitarian organization. I am not following them anymore..

    • We all need to hold Amnesty International accountable for its incorrect reporting. And by reporting facts and voices of Syrian civilians on the ground, not just vague venting.

      Everyone who wants to hear reporting from Houla, Syria, from a source not heavily profiting from "humanitarian intervention," check out:… (Global Research, a Canadian nonprofit).

  4. this is BS i thought amnesty was for human rights not part of the government run media war on Syria? stopping being CNN and lying and focus on helping people before you loose all legitimacy amnesty!

  5. This "news" article is mostly U.S. government propaganda. It is so terrible to lie about the May 25 massacre of civilians in Houla, Syria. Progressive and foreign news media have had many interviews with residents of Houla who were eyewitnesses and who said the massacre was not by Assad government troops, but in fact committed by local criminals, mercenaries and other forces connected to the imperialist-armed “Free Syrian Army.” The "Free Syrian Army" is a U.S./NATO creation, comprised of many of the same mercenaries from the similarly created "Free Libyan Army." It is no defense of Assad to tell the truth about Houla. The U.S. and much of the UN want an excuse for the "humanitarian invasion" of Syria. They have brought heavy weapons, ex-patriates with loads of U.S. cash, and FBI/U.S. military "boots on the ground" to create the armed "Free Syrian Army." Popular, mass Syrian organizations do not want an armed struggle against the Syrian government, they know it will turn into a civil war and the massacre of civilians along religious and tribal lines. The U.S. is turning Syria into a nightmare, and Amnesty International is enabling the Houla massacre and other mass violations of Syrian civilians. Amnesty has never met a "humanitarian intervention" it didn't massively fundraise for and support. Shame on you, Amnesty.

  6. This article is approved by Joseph Goebbels.
    "Make the lie big, make it simple keep saying it and eventually they will believe"

    The critical role of propaganda was affirmed at Nuremberg by the prosecution’s rendering judgment and also with the testimony of the most prominent Nazi defendant Reich Marshall Herman Goering:
    Modern and total war develops as I see it, along three lines: the war of weapons on land, at sea and in the air, economic war, which has become an integral part of every modern war and third, propaganda warfare.

    I believe Amnesty are war criminals for their part in manufacturing propaganda which led to the invasion of Libya & the resulting destruction of a sovereign country & the murder of 75000 Libyan men, women & children by NATO terrorists. All on the basis of lies.

    To all who work for Amnesty, you should be ashamed for trying to incite war crimes against a sovereign country that has done no harm & is trying to defend itself against foreign, NATO funded mercenary, terrorist, child murderers.

    Houla was committed by these same groups & yet you still continue your lies.

    I hope everyone sees you for what you are & I hope you as individuals are held to account for your actions.

  7. Message to Sangeev Bery.

    …after the Second World War, the United Nations General Assembly passed legislation to prohibit and punish propaganda such as this.

    Resolution 110 of 3rd November 1947
    Regarding "measures to be taken against propaganda and the inciters of a new war," condemns "propaganda which is either designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression.

    Resolution 381 of 17th November 1950
    Strengthens this condemnation by condemning the censorship of conflicting information as part of the propaganda against peace.

    Journalists who engage in war propaganda must be tried by International Justice.

  8. The CoI in reporting to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva did not rule out the involvement of anti-government forces at Houla seeking to escalate the conflict and punishing non-supporters of the rebellion.

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