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International Community Must Continue to Ratchet up Pressure on Assad Regime to Halt the Violence
July 6, 2012

Introductory Statement
The Situation of Human Rights in the Syrian Arab Republic
Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Delivered by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
Human Rights Council 20th Session

Thank you, Madame President.

The United States is very pleased to introduce, with our partner Turkey, draft resolution L.22 Rev.1, on the Situation of Human Rights in the Syrian Arab Republic. This resolution, as was just mentioned, enjoys the broad support of over 50 co-sponsors.

This Council must continue to speak out clearly and forcefully on the gross human rights violations and atrocities being carried out by the Assad government. The Assad regime is waging a brutal campaign of violence against the Syrian people, characterized by aerial bombardment, mass killings, summary executions, torture, including rape, and other atrocities. We demand an end to these outrageous crimes against the people of Syria.

The Assad government has made no serious effort to comply with its commitment to the Annan six-point proposal and with UN Security Council resolutions 2042 and 2043. Assad continues to use heavy weapons against civilians; deploy tanks and troops in urban areas; detain activists, journalists, and others arbitrarily and without any pretense of due process and to torture them; and restrict fundamental freedoms. As long as Assad continues to attack the Syrian people, the international community must keep ratcheting up the pressure on the regime to halt the violence and do more to allow access for humanitarian assistance to civilians in need. This resolution reaffirms the international community’s full commitment to supporting Joint Special Envoy Annan and his efforts on the implementation of his six-point proposal. This resolution reflects the Geneva Action Group’s communiqué supporting Kofi Annan’s principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition, one in which the regime cedes full executive power to a transitional governing body.

It is vital that the Commission of Inquiry continue documenting violations and collecting evidence so that those who are responsible for gross human rights violations can be held accountable. This resolution appropriately calls for continued support and immediate, full, unfettered, and secure access on the ground for the COI. And it also rightly emphasizes the need for accountability for the atrocities and gross human rights violations being committed against the Syrian people. Several Syrian and international groups, like the Syria Justice and Accountability Center, are also working toward this end, to ensure that a comprehensive record of abuses is available to the Syrian people.

We have a clear message to the Syrian security forces: “Don’t let Assad abuse your national loyalty. Your mission as the armed forces of Syria is to protect the Syrian people, not to prolong Assad’s hold on power. The way to meet your responsibility is to end the repression and help set up a broad based interim administration that will lead Syria to a democratic future.”

Madame President, distinguished delegates, the actions of the Assad government are contrary to the principles and values upon which the Human Rights Council was founded – no State that engages in such actions should ever serve on this Council. Supporting this resolution is just one way to demonstrate our solidarity with the Syrian people. I call on all Council members to support this resolution and the people of Syria in their desperate time of need.

Thank you, Madame President.