Dear President Zuma
The United Nations Secretary General has said that the Syrian Government has committed crimes against the country’s civilian population. A UN investigation has called the actions of Bashar al-Assad’s regime crimes against humanity. South African judge Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has denounced Syria’s “ruthless repression” She has asked the international community to take “urgent, effective measures in a collective and decisive manner to protect Syrians.” We agree.
The Syrian government is using massive military force to crush its people’s democratic aspirations. The military is bombing the city of Homs. It has denied the Red Cross access to the city. Refugees are streaming across the border into Jordan. The government has besieged the cities of Deraa and Idlib. Human Rights Watch reports that children have been tortured. Thousands of civilians have died and many thousands more will die unless there is a greater international response to the Assad government.
Syria is a police state. There is no free press nor freedom of speech. Criticism of the Ba’ath regime is repressed. Nor is the current violence unprecedented. As Amnesty International explains, thirty years ago Hafez al-Assad, father of the current President, assaulted the city of Hama for 27 days. Tens of thousands of people were probably killed.
We welcome South Africa’s vote in favour of the recent UN Security Council Resolution on Syria, which was tragically vetoed by China and Russia. But as a country we can and must do more to put pressure on the Syrian Government. Just as South Africans fought for their freedom, so are Syrians trying to do the same today. We must show our solidarity with ordinary Syrians. One way we can do this is by showing our country’s displeasure with the Syrian regime by ending diplomatic relations and only re-instating them once President Assad and his military commit to a non-violent, democratic response to the current uprising.
We therefore call upon you to close our embassy in Damascus, recall our diplomatic staff and expel Syrian diplomats in South Africa. We also call upon you to ensure the banning of all arms deliveries to the Assad regime. By opposing the actions of the Syrian regimen, we do not necessarily endorse the militarisation of the opposition or the use of violence by any side in this conflict.
Ndifuna Ukwaziamnesty international, bashar al assad, crimes against humanity, Damascus, freedom of speech, hafez al assad, Homs, Jordan, President Zuma, Russia, South Africa, Syria, syrian regime, Uncategorized