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Pillay urges united international action to protect Syrians

GENEVA (14 October 2011) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday expressed deep dismay at the worsening human rights situation in Syria, including the “remorseless toll of human lives,” and urged the international community to take immediate measures to protect the Syrian people.

“In August, I drew attention to credible allegations of crimes against humanity in Syria,” Pillay said. “At that time, I encouraged the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.”

“Since the start of the uprising in Syria, the Government has consistently used excessive force to crush peaceful protests,” Pillay said. “Sniping from rooftops, and indiscriminate use of force against peaceful protestors – including the use of live ammunition and the shelling of residential neighbourhoods – have become routine occurrences in many Syrian cities.”

“The result,” she added, “has been a devastatingly remorseless toll of human lives. The number of people killed since the violence started in March has now exceeded 3,000, including at least 187 children. More than 100 people have been reported killed in the last 10 days alone. In addition, thousands have been arrested, detained, forcibly disappeared and tortured. Family members inside and outside the country have been targeted for harassment, intimidation, threats and beatings. As more members of the military refuse to attack civilians and change sides, the crisis is already showing worrying signs of descending into an armed struggle.”

“The Government of Syria has manifestly failed to protect its population. Furthermore, it has ignored the international community’s calls to cooperate with international investigations,” the UN human rights chief said.

“The onus is on all members of the international community to take protective action in a collective and decisive manner, before the continual ruthless repression and killings drive the country into a full-blown civil war,” Pillay said. “At stake are the universal rights to life, liberty and security of person which must never be brushed aside in the interests of realpolitik. The international community must speak with one voice and act to protect the Syrian people.”

ENDS

To learn more about the UN Human Rights Office and Navi Pillay, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org

UN human rights office Country Page – Syrian Arab Republic http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/SYIndex.aspx

For more information or media requests, please contact spokesperson Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or press officers Ravina Shamdasani (+ 41 22 917 9310 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org) and Xabier Celaya (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org).

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