Silence Is Not an Option! Syrians cannot afford to wait!

In Arab Countries by CIHRS

Civil society organizations from across the Arab region call on the Arab League to suspend Syria’s membership rights as human rights violations continue

A coalition of more than 170 local and international organizations working in seventeen countries across the Arab world has appealed to the League of Arab States to end its silence on Syria. In a public letter sent today (see full text below), the coalition sets out a series of steps that should be taken by the Arab League in its upcoming meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs. The coalition urges the League to adopt a series of measures to ensure an immediate end to the use of lethal force against protesters, and the full application of the thirteen points of the Arab initiative to Syria. The letter commends the initiative for including clear demands for the cessation of violence, the release of all political prisoners and compensation for the victims of the crackdown.

However, the signatories have expressed serious concerns about the initiative as it “lacks guarantees and benchmarks to ensure its successful implementation”.

“For the Arab Initiative to make a real difference for ordinary Syrians, it must ensure that independent observers access the country and monitor the behavior of the security services,” said Nadim Houry, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Otherwise, the initiative will not outlive the ongoing bullets of the security services.”

The coalition, including international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, AVAAZ and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), along with national organizations from Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Qatar, Morocco, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Syria, calls on the LAS to bring an end to the ongoing basic human rights violations in Syria by:
– Reiterating a formal, public call for the immediate cessation of the use of force against the civilian population, thereby ensuring that the perpetrators of unlawful killings are held accountable.
– Sending monitors from the LAS to verify and monitor the cessation of violations.
– Supporting the UN Security Council to instate comprehensive travel bans and freeze assets on targeted individuals responsible for the crackdown, stating the conditions under which the above sanctions can be lifted.
– Declaring an immediate embargo on weapons, effectively monitoring and controlling borders to prevent arms smuggling.
– Calling on Syrian authorities to cooperate and grant access to the UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights violations.
– Suspending Syria’s membership rights at the LAS, including the right to vote.

“The Arab league is facing a paramount challenge. The League should adhere to the principles it was established to follow and follow the example of individual Arab governments showing Syria that its current treatment of its own citizens cannot be tolerated. We urge the League to stand on the right side of history,” said Ziad Abdel Tawab, Deputy Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

In an attempt to strongly mobilize Arab states behind the League’s initiative and to ensure it brings about concrete results, Radwan Ziadeh, Director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies and one of the signatories of the letter, stressed that “The League of Arab States is being watched by all of us fighting for freedom across the Arab world. Its credibility is on the line. It is the time for genuine action”.

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