Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International’

Syrian rebels reportedly commit war crimes; U.N. Security Council should refer crimes in Syria to the ICC—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #71 (August 1)

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Some units of the Free Syrian Army are reported today to have summarily executed opponents under their control, in Aleppo. This is a wrong turn for the opposition, a sad and erroneous step on the path leading to the more widespread commission of war crimes by the rebels, and to certain ruin.


(1) “Regime loyalists ‘executed’ in Syria’s Aleppo; Video of apparent execution emerges as fierce fighting continues over control of the country’s largest city,” Al Jazeera, August 2, 2012 (04:01 h). This article also includes a report on the massacre of some 50 men in a suburb of Damascus by al-Assad’s military forces.

(2) J. David Goodman, “Video Said to Show Execution by Syrian Rebels Stirs Debate,” New York Times, August 1, 2012.

(3) Ian Black (Middle East editor) and Martin Chulov (in Antaky), “Syrian army pounds Aleppo as video appears to show rebels’ revenge killings; Regime forces use artillery and aircraft to attack parts of Syria’s second city as Assad praises army for facing ‘terrorist gangs’, The Guardian, August 1, 2012 (14.05 EDT). Black and Chulov quote Bashir al-Haji, spokesman for the FSA’s Tawhid (“Unity”) Brigade, who told the Guardian in a telephone interview:

“We were able to kill 20 of them and arrest another 50,” he said. “We held a field trial for them. We have judges and lawyers who are in the opposition. They found that seven of the Berri clan were involved in killing and they decided to execute them. Others are being kept for trial after the collapse of the regime.”

The statement shows the FSA is aware of the laws of war. Whether field trials were actually held or not unknown. It sounds dubious.

(4) BBC, “Syria conflict: Aleppo shootings by rebels condemned; Human rights activists have condemned the public shooting in Syria of four apparent Assad loyalists by rebels in the battleground city of Aleppo,” BBC News, August 1, 2012.

(5) Erike Solomon, “Casualties of Aleppo’s grizzly war mount,” The Daily Star, August 2, 2012. Solomon quotes rebels approving of the killing of a government troop in detention, but also reports on the rebles field hospital treating governmnet soldiers as well as rebels.

(6) See also Amnesty International, “Syria: From all-out repression to armed conflict in Aleppo,” August 1, 2012. The news release contains a link to the full Amnesty International Report, “All Out Repression: Purging Dissent in Aleppo, Syria,” August 1, 2012.

By committing war crimes themselves, the rebels undercut the moral justification of their cause. Those who are supporting them now, with weapons, money, intelligence, and logistics and coordination, will come under enormous pressures to diminish or end their support of the insurgents if they continue to commit or tolerate the commission of war crimes.

Part of the problem is that foreign countries have not intervened enough, and soon enough, to help train the rebels in the laws of war (humanitarian law) and to establish processes for holding rebels accountable for the commission of war crimes when they occur. The Free Syrian Army obviously needs to expand its capacity for handling prisoners without abusing them, at the earliest possible date.

What many in Syria are fighting for is the opposite of al-Assad, involving respect for the fundamental rights of individual human beings, and the establishment of the rule of law.

The reports today of summary executions by the rebels constitutes a decisive turning point. If the rebels allow the commission of war crimes to pass without condemnation, they risk losing the moral legitimacy which has enabled their cause to elicit support from abroad.

At a second level, the reported summary executions carried out by insurgents in Syria makes it all the more imperative that the U.N. Security Council refer the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria to the International Criminal Court, at the earliest opportunity.

Both the government forces and militias of Bashar al-Assad and the forces which oppose him, including the Free Syrian Army, must be held accountable for the commission of war crimes, and other international crimes including crimes against humanity.

The Security Council should take up a resolution conferring jurisdiction on the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other international crimes committed in Syria, whether by the government or by rebel forces, forthwith.

The Trenchant Observer

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U.N. says peace plan “on track” as up to 43 people killed on Friday—Obama’s debacle in Syria — Update #34 (May 4)

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Points 4, 5 and 6 of the UN Peace Plan

Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan for Syria, adopted by the Security Council in its Presidential Statement of March 21 and endorsed further by Resolutions 2042 and 2043 adopted by the Security Council on April 14 and April 21, established in points 4, 5, and 6 the following:

“To this aim, the Security Council fully supports the initial six-point proposal submitted to the Syrian authorities, as outlined by the Envoy to the Security Council on 16 March 2012, to:

(4) intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons, including especially vulnerable categories of persons, and persons involved in peaceful political activities, provide without delay through appropriate channels a list of all places in which such persons are being detained, immediately begin organizing access to such locations and through appropriate channels respond promptly to all written requests for information, access or release regarding such persons;

(5) ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them;

(6) respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully as legally guaranteed.”

These elements were part of the package that the Secuirty Council, however unwisely, signed on to. None has been implemented, or even begun to be implemented, since March 21.

Al-Assad’s actions have utterly violated the intent and letter of point 6, with brutal represssion, as described in the latest news articles cited below.

Latest News Reports and Opinion
[developing story–will update]

“Syrian forces fire on protesters as Aleppo rages,” The Daily Star (Beirut), May 05, 2012 (01:35 AM).

“43 people killed in Syria as U.N. envoy says peace plan ‘on track’
Friday, 04 May 2012,” Al-Arabiya News, May 4, 2012

Zeina Karam, “Protests in Syria’s Aleppo after university raid,” The Daily Star (Beirut), May 4, 2012 (08:34 AM; Last updated: May 04, 2012 05:21 PM).

Martin Chulov (Beirut), “Syrian forces executing and burning residents of Idlib, Amnesty says; Report gathers harrowing testimony of victims and families caught in purge of northern city by regime troops and loyalists,” The Guardian, May 4, 2012.

Donatella Rovera, “Inside Syria’s crackdown: ‘I found my boys burning in the street’; Amnesty International reports the harrowing testimonies of the people of Idlib and nearby villages terrorised by regime forces,” The Guardian, May 4, 2012.

“A peace plan for Syria brokered by UN envoy Kofi Annan is on track despite reports of violations of the ceasefire, his spokesman has claimed,” The Telegraph, May 4, 2012.

Jochen Bittner, “9.000 Tote, 200.000 Obdachlose, 40.000 Flüchtlinge – mit seiner Strategie der Zerstörung und Unterdrückung gewinnt Diktator Assad Boden,” Die Zeit, 4 Mai 2012.


There can be little doubt at this point, given his spokesman’s statement that the 6-point peace plan is “on track”, that Kofi Annan is carrying water for the Russians and is in fact enabling al-Assad to continue the commission of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other grave violations of fundamental human rights against the Syrian people.

The only alternative explanation would be that he has become utterly delusional.

In either case, he should be removed from his job immediately, and the 6-point peace plan should be aborted in view of its absolute failure to secure compliance with any of its provisions.

If the U.N. monitors are to remain in Syria, they need a new and forceful mandate from the Security Council. The negotiations for a transition in Syria should be led by outside members of the international community, possibly acting through the Security Council. Any idea of a “Syrian-led” process of negotiations–which means a process controlled by al-Assad, should be jettisoned at once.

In the meantime, states with the capabilities to do so should accelerate their planning and the movement of military assets to the region so as to be in a position to intervene in Syria militarily to stop the killing, on short notice, with or without Security Council authorization.

The Trenchant Observer

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Military Intervention to establish “no-kill zones” and humanitarian corridors—Syria Update #9

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Military action to establish humanitarian corridors and what Anne-Marie Slaughter proposes as “no-kill” zones should be an active option, in place and ready to be executed swiftly within the next few days, to stop the terror and killing by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Slaughter is a distinguished international lawyer and former head of the State Department’s Policy Planning Department. See

Anne-Marie Slaughter, “How to Halt the Butchery in Syria,” New York Times, February 23, 2012 (February 24 print edition).

See also:

Kanan Makiya, “Intervention In Syria is a Moral and Human Imperative, The New Republic, February 24, 2012.

Amnesty International, “Syria: Humanitarian access urged in Homs,” February 24, 2012.

President Obama is quick to assert that “all options are on the table” when referring to Iran or other problem countries such as Syria. It is now time to take the military option from the table, and to use it to halt the ongoing commission of crimes against humanity on a massive scale. Kanan Makiya in the article cited above describes what is likely to happen if al-Assad is not stopped. Makiya is the author of The Republic of Fear, the classic study of the terror employed by Sadam Hussein during his government.

It is time to act decisively to halt al-Assad’s crimes against humanity.

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