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The world is watching the carnage in Syria despite attempts to sever access, says Pillay

GENEVA (2 August 2011) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday warned Syrian authorities that the world is bearing witness to the grave violence being perpetrated against the Syrian people, and urged them to stop the bloodshed.

She expressed serious alarm at reports that at least 145 people have been killed and many others injured since Friday. At least 120 individuals are reported to have been killed in Hama through the use of tanks, shelling and heavy machine guns. Several others have been killed in Deir Ez Zur, suburbs of Damascus and other towns and cities across Syria. The exact death toll may be considerably higher.

“The Government has been trying to keep the world blind about the alarming situation in the country by refusing access to foreign journalists, independent human rights groups and to the fact-finding mission mandated by the Human Rights Council,” Pillay said.

“But they are not succeeding. The world is watching and the international community is gravely concerned. I stand in solidarity with peaceful protestors who are demanding that the persistent violation of their human rights ends now. I also stand in solidarity with the families of all the victims who have lost their lives since the crackdown began, and condemn in the strongest terms the reprehensible violence this Government is using against its own people.”

Pillay called for the violence to stop immediately and for humanitarian actors to be granted access without delay.

“The Government has an obligation to protect its citizens. The use of force in restoring law and order must be an option of the last resort, but it appears that it is being used as a measure of first response to demonstrations in Syria,” she said.

“I again urge the Government to allow the fact-finding mission into the country to assess the situation first-hand,” she added.

According to information received by the UN human rights office, in addition to the killings there have been dozens of arbitrary detentions across the country, including of human rights defenders whose rights to freedom of expression and assembly have already been violently suppressed.

“It is high time that we work towards accountability for perpetrators of human rights violations in Syria in recent months,” the High Commissioner said. “There is a need for an international, transparent, independent and prompt investigation into the violence, the killings, the excessive use of force, the arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment and torture that the people of Syria have been subjected to.”

ENDS

OHCHR Country Page – Syrian Arab Republic http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/SYIndex.aspx

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