User:Aideenuow/UN will investigate possible 'crimes against humanity' in Syria

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

File photo of Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.
Image: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / ABr.

The United Nations has voted to investigate whether crimes against humanity have occurred as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has suppressed anti-government protesters. The protests began in March.

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva voted the investigation 33-4, with nine abstentions. The vote also condemned the violence by the Syrian government. A UN press release said the investigation will examine alleged violations of international human rights law and identify those responsible, to ensure the people who committed the violations are held accountable.

The Council condemned "the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, also of children."

More than 2,200 people are reported to have been killed since protests began.

While Syria has blocked entry to UN Human Rights investigators, it is allowing a UN team to investigate overall humanitarian conditions in opposition areas. However, Syrian activists have claimed security forces are blocking the UN team from traveling to areas of unrest.

On Monday, security forces in the central city of Homs opened fire on residents turning out to welcome the UN humanitarian team, with rights workers and activists saying three people were killed, and an additional seven died overnight. Syrian activists also report that government forces killed five civilians on Tuesday in Hama, an opposition stronghold. On Thursday, Syrian security forces beat up a Syrian political cartoonist, Ali Ferzat.

Syrian protesters in Istanbul have set up a "national council" to organize a plan to overthrow President al-Assad, consisting of exiled and domestic opposition groups.