The League of Arab States should not be a platform to support the crimes of the Syrian regime against its people

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The 13 undersigned Arab Human Rights NGOs are deeply concerned about efforts undertaken by member states of the League of Arab States to garner support for the Syrian government’s candidacy for one of the Asian seats in the UN Human Rights Council.

The undersigned NGOs believe the Syrian government’s human rights record makes it unworthy of a seat on the UN rights body, if international standards were applied. but support for its candidacy at this moment in time is not only an insult to the UN body and its mission, but shows flagrant disregard for the feelings and rights of the Syrian people, who have broken the barrier of fear and risen up in revolt in most Syrian provinces. In the past few weeks, 250 Syrians have lost their lives, and thousands have been injured and arrested, after daring to demand freedom and respect for human rights and challenging the brutal system of repression of Syria’s police state.

It was hoped that the winds of change now blowing across the Arab region – which have thus far swept away the regimes in two police states – would prompt a serious reassessment within Arab League institutions of policies and practices inimical to human rights, and that the Arab League would cease to play a key role in the support of authoritarian regimes and repression. The undersigned NGOs believed that the decisive stance taken by the Arab League and its Secretary-General on the Libyan regime’s massacre of its own people was a first step toward support of the rights of peoples. However, it is obvious that double standards and selectivity continue to characterize the stance and discourse of the Arab League. This is particularly clear in Bahrain and Yemen, where it has turned a blind eye and been complicit in the brutal crackdown on peaceful pro-democracy protests. In the case of Syria, it seems as if the League of Arab States is rewarding the regime for its repression.

The undersigned NGOs urge the Secretary-General of the Arab League to publicly denounce Syria’s candidacy, and to call on Arab states to refrain from supporting Syria’s candidacy during the UN General Assembly vote in May. The undersigned organizations stress that the Egyptian and Tunisian governments in particular should take action to block this measure. Given the recent steps these nations have taken to free themselves from oppression, we urge them to take the initiative and work for the adoption of effective policies that support and strengthen human rights within Arab League institutions and promote a coherent Arab stance on human rights issues, both through the Arab league and UN human rights agencies and bodies.

1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
2. Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights
3. Arab Foundation for Civil Society and Human Rights Support, Egypt
4. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Egypt
5. Bahrain Center for Human Rights
6. Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies
7. Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
8. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
9. Haitham Maleh Foundation for the Defense of Syrian Human Rights Defenders
10. Human Rights First Society, Saudi Arabia
11. Iraqi Human Rights Organization in Denmark
12. Journalists for Human Rights – JHR , Sudan
13. Yemeni Organization for Defending Human Rights and Democratic Freedoms

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