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Syria

    April 16, 2018

    Responding to news that inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have still not been granted access by the Syrian authorities to the site in Douma where 75 people were killed last week following a suspected chemical weapons attack by government forces, Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office in New York said:

    “The OPCW team must be granted full and unfettered access to the site in Douma without further delay. Their investigation is crucial in uncovering the exact circumstances behind the appalling images that united the world in horror this month. Every day that passes without access makes it harder for them to collect and analyse vital evidence.

    “The use of chemical weapons against civilians is prohibited by international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Syria is a party. Deliberately targeting civilians with this illegal weapon is a war crime.

    April 13, 2018
    Douma, woman and child

    In recent days, several governments, including the UK’s, the USA’s and France’s, have signalled their intention to take military action against the Syrian government, which they hold responsible for the recent suspected chemical weapons attacks in Douma.

    It’s important to remember the context here. For the past seven years, the international community’s catastrophic failure to take meaningful action to protect the people of Syria has allowed various parties to this terrible conflict, most notably pro-Assad forces, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with the assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia.

    Complying with international law

    UN Security Council resolutions have been repeatedly flouted and ignored by both Bashar al-Assad’s government and other belligerents. Widespread frustration with the ineffectiveness and failure of this international body’s inability to protect Syrian civilians is totally understandable.

    April 10, 2018

    The last few days have seen the deaths of dozens of Syrian civilians in what appears to be yet another sickening chemical attack – almost two years to the day since a shockingly similar attack took place, which claimed the lives of an entire family.

    Once again, the world watched on horrified as footage emerged over the weekend of children and adults struggling to breath, and others who had already lost their fight to survive.

    "I lost consciousness. I couldn't breathe any more; it was like my lungs were shutting down." https://t.co/DQtvWnB1uE

    — Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) April 9, 2018

    March 23, 2018

    Responding to reports that an alleged Russian air strike using an incendiary weapon burned to death 37 civilians – mainly women and children – hiding in an air-raid shelter in the Syrian town of Arbin on Friday, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Senior Advisor Rawya Rageh said:

    “We have previously documented how the use of incendiary weapons is burning alive civilians who are literally left with nowhere to hide. This attack would appear to be the latest horrific example in that pattern.

    “In areas besieged by the Syrian government such as Daraya and elsewhere, civilians told us what particularly struck fear into their hearts during the final period of the siege before they were forced out was the use of incendiary weapons.

    “Many told us they stopped going down to shelters for fear of being burned alive. Those fears seem especially poignant today in light of this latest horrifying loss of life.”

    According to Russian state media, Russia's Ministry of Defence denied responsibility for the attack.

    Further reading

    March 15, 2018

    To mark the seventh anniversary of the Syria conflict, Amnesty International is calling for the international community to assume its responsibilities and urgently act to end the suffering of millions of Syrians and bring an end to the bloody assault on besieged civilians in Eastern Ghouta and Afrin.

    “The international community’s catastrophic failure to take concrete action to protect the people of Syria has allowed parties to the conflict, most notably the Syrian government, to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity with complete impunity, often with assistance of outside powers, particularly Russia. Every year we think it is just not possible for parties to the conflict to inflict more suffering on civilians, and yet, every year, they prove us wrong,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director.  

    March 02, 2018

    “The situation in Eastern Ghouta is worse than words can say...We live in a rich area a few kilometers away from the capital where everything is available, while children here are dying of malnutrition." A pediatrician,speaking on 16 February 2018

    Escalation of Attacks

    The Syrian government and its ally Russia have escalated a bombing campaign in Eastern Ghouta, an area in the Damascus Countryside home to 400,000 civilians. The attacks have left scores dead and hundreds injured this past month. This comes after six years of a cruel siege where Syrians have been trapped in a daily barrage of attacks to deliberately kill and maim them. The relentless bombing of Eastern Ghouta constitutes a flagrant war crime.

    February 28, 2018

    Reacting to a New York Times article alleging that an unpublished United Nations report reveals that from 2012 to 2017 North Korea secretly shipped supplies to Syria that could be used to produce internationally banned chemical weapons, Lynn Malouf, Director of Research for the Middle East at Amnesty International, said:



    “Supplying any state with the means to produce these horrific weapons is utterly deplorable. But to help the Syrian government – which has repeatedly used chemical weapons against civilians – replenish its supplies would be a particularly egregious betrayal of humanity.



    “The UN should publish its report. If the report is accurate, it would represent an ominous marker of how far the crimes and violations committed by the Syrian government have eroded respect for long-established prohibitions.



    February 28, 2018

    Turkish military, and to a lesser extent Kurdish forces, are carrying out indiscriminate attacks in the embattled Syrian towns of Afrin and Azaz respectively in northern Aleppo, killing scores of civilians, according to eyewitness testimonies obtained and verified by Amnesty International.

    The organization interviewed 15 people living in - or recently displaced from – cities and villages in Afrin and Azaz who painted a grim picture of indiscriminate shelling allegedly carried out by both sides. Amnesty’s Digital Verification Corps was able to corroborate many of these claims by video analysis.

    “The fighting in Afrin between Turkish and US-backed Kurdish forces has already caused numerous civilian deaths and is putting the lives of hundreds more at risk,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director.

    “Reports of shelling of villages and residential areas in cities are deeply troubling. The use of artillery and other imprecise explosive weapons in civilian areas is prohibited by international humanitarian law and all parties should cease such attacks immediately.”

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 21, 2018

    The Syrian government, backed by Russia, is bombing its own people in Eastern Ghouta. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds injured in the past month. The area has been under siege for some six years. No one can escape to safety, and humanitarian aid including food and medical supplies can’t get in. Children and elderly people are dying of malnutrition and lack of medication. The daily barrage of attacks is a flagrant war crime. 

    Amnesty helped draw attention to the crisis in Aleppo. It’s time to help the people under attack in Eastern Ghouta.

    1. TAKE ACTION NOW

    Sign and share our action calling on Syria and Russia to immediately end all attacks on civilians, homes, hospitals and markets, and lifts the siege to allow humanitarian aid into Eastern Ghouta.

    >>SIGN NOW

    Here’s an example of how you can share the action via social media:

    February 20, 2018

    Responding to the news of the escalating bombing campaign by the Syrian government and its ally Russia in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus Countryside which has left scores dead and hundreds injured in the past month, Amnesty International’s Diana Semaan, Syria researcher, said:

    “The Syrian government, with the backing of Russia, is intentionally targeting its own people in Eastern Ghouta. People have not only been suffering a cruel siege for the past six years, they are now trapped in a daily barrage of attacks that are deliberately killing and maiming them, and that constitute flagrant war crimes.

    “For six years, the international community has stood by as the Syrian government has committed crimes against humanity and war crimes with total impunity.

    “The United Nations Security Council must enforce its own resolutions which call for an end to sieges of civilian areas and attacks on civilians, and for unimpeded humanitarian access. Permanent members, including Russia, should not block measures to end and redress mass atrocities.

    February 06, 2018

    The Syrian government’s use of internationally banned chemical weapons was laid bare once again on 4 February when a chlorine gas attack on the town of Saraqeb left 11 people in need of emergency treatment, according to testimony gathered by Amnesty International.

    The Syria Civil Defence said that barrel bombs containing chlorine gas had been dropped by helicopter and caused the casualties to gasp desperately for air, suffer severe irritation to their skin and eyes, vomit and collapse. The casualties included three Syria Civil Defence volunteers who had rushed to the scene to assist.

    “Once again, Syria’s government has shown its utter contempt for international law by deploying illegal chemical weapons,” said Lynn Malouf, Director of Research for the Middle East at Amnesty International.

    “Direct attacks on civilians are absolutely prohibited and are war crimes. The fact that the government feels free to flagrantly carry out such attacks using internationally banned chemical weapons reflects the complete impunity enjoyed by those who order war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.”

    November 30, 2017
    Verified photographs show Soviet-made cluster munitions used over densely populated areas by Syrian government forces Doctors describe dire humanitarian situation – including widespread malnutrition – amid tightening siege Witnesses recount indiscriminate attacks killing civilians as Syrian forces commit daily war crimes

    Syrian government forces’ increasing use of banned Soviet-made cluster munitions to carry out indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians amid a tightening siege in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta has killed at least 10 civilians and brought the area’s humanitarian crisis to breaking point, Amnesty International can reveal today.

    The organization interviewed five people currently under siege in Eastern Ghouta, among them activists and medical professionals, who described a severely deteriorating situation as the government has escalated its bombing campaign of this rebel-held enclave, near the capital, Damascus, since 14 November.

    November 22, 2017

    Responding to news that Iran, Turkey and Russia will meet in the Russian city of Sochi on Wednesday, while more than 30 Syrian opposition groups hold separate talks in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International said:

    “As the parties to the conflict in Syria meet separately to discuss a roadmap to peace, millions of Syrian men, women and children face horrific suffering due to the violations and crimes perpetrated by all parties to the conflict.

    Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of people trapped under siege throughout Syria in unbearable conditions without access to food, water or healthcare.

    November 13, 2017

    Whole civilian populations who have suffered horrific sieges and been subjected to intensive bombardments have been given no choice but to leave or die under so-called “reconciliation” agreements between the Syrian government and armed opposition groups, said Amnesty International in a comprehensive new report published today.

    The government’s campaign of sieges, unlawful killings and forced displacement, which has uprooted thousands of civilians and forced them to live in dire conditions, constitutes crimes against humanity.

    “We leave or we die”: Forced displacement under Syria’s ‘reconciliation’ agreements examines four of these local pacts and documents associated violations dating back to 2012. Reached between August 2016 and March 2017, the agreements led to the displacement of thousands of residents from six besieged areas: Daraya, eastern Aleppo city, al-Waer, Madaya, Kefraya and Foua.

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