44 reasons most Syrians will not have a happy new year in 2014

We are a few hours into 2014 and the pattern of human rights violations, abuses, impunity and international inaction that blighted Syria in 2013 (and before) is still happening. Those responsible are contributing to the further misery of Syrian civilians - that is for sure. Here is a list highlighting the reasons most Syrians will continue to suffer in 2014. This is the scale of the challenge and what needs to be stopped - I am sure readers could add many other points..

1 - The Assad regime will continue to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity and the international community will do nothing effective to stop them

2 - The Assad regime will continue to attack and besiege civilians and civilian areas

3 - The Assad regime will continue to carry out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks

4 - The Assad regime will continue to commit summary killings 

5 - The Assad regime will fail to communicate zero-tolerance policies on human rights violations to forces under it's command and will fail to condemn publicly such violations where they occur

6 - The Assad regime will continue its deliberate starvation policy and prevent humanitarian organisations unfettered access to the civilian population without discrimination – this includes preventing full cross border and cross line access

7 - The Assad regime will deny access to the independent international Commission of Inquiry to investigate all alleged crimes under international law 

8 - The Assad regime will deny prompt and unfettered access to human rights organisations to visit all areas of Syria

9 - The Assad regime will keep on arbitrarily arresting and detaining those who peacefully express their opposition to the government by exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly 

10 - The Assad regime will refuse to immediately and unconditionally release anyone held solely for exercising their right to freedom of opinion, expression, association and assembly

11 - The Assad regime will refuse to end the systematic use of torture or other ill-treatment of detainees and will refuse to end practices, including incommunicado and secret detention, which facilitate torture

12 - The Assad regime will continue to use televised and/or forced confessions and/or interrogations

13 - The Assad regime will keep on subjecting individuals to enforced disappearances

14 - The Assad regime will refuse to inform families about the whereabouts of their detained relatives and fail to clarify the fate of those who are missing, including those who have died, and they will refuse to disclose the circumstances of their deaths and the location of their burial

15 - Armed groups will refuse to publicly condemn, from the highest level of leadership, all human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, in particular violations against civilians (including journalists) and captured members of the security forces

16 - Armed groups will continue to commit summary and other unlawful killings, abductions, hostage-taking, torture and other ill-treatment, and punishments amounting to torture and other ill-treatment

17 - Armed groups will refuse to inform families about the fate of missing relatives, including those who have died or disclose the circumstances of their deaths and the location of their burial

18 - Armed groups will refuse to immediately and unconditionally release any civilian (including journalists, media workers or citizen journalists) held solely for expressing their right to freedom of expression, or on the basis of their religion or ethnicity; and they will continue to treat captured individuals as hostages

19 - Armed groups will refuse to remove from their ranks any member suspected of human rights abuses

20 - The UN Security Council, in particular Russia and the USA, will continue to fail to refer the situation in Syria to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

21 - Governments will continue to fail to accept a shared responsibility to investigate and prosecute war crimes and other crimes under international law committed in Syria

22 - Governments will continue to fail to exercise universal jurisdiction over these crimes before national courts in fair trials

23 - Governments will continue to fail to establish joint international investigation and prosecution teams to investigate crimes under international law committed in Syria

24 - States currently supplying arms to the Syrian government will refuse to halt military transfers including all weapons, munitions, military, security, and policing equipment, training and personnel

25 - Armed transfers will continue to armed opposition group in Syria where there is a substantial risk of those particular groups committing human rights abuses

26 - States considering military transfers to armed opposition groups will not establish concrete, enforceable and verifiable mechanisms so as to remove all substantial risks that any military equipment supplied is not misused or diverted to commit or facilitate grave human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law

27 - The international community will refuse to accept a shared responsibility for refugees from Syria by significantly increasing the number of resettlement and humanitarian admission places they provide

28 - The international community, especially those calling themselves “Friends of Syria” will fail to ensure the UN humanitarian appeals for Syria are fully and sustainably funded

29 - The international community will fail to support countries faced with large influxes of refugees from Syria to enable them to cope with the pressure on their infrastructure and provide essential services to refugees

30 - EU member states and the EU will not strengthen search and rescue capacity in the Mediterranean to identify boats in distress and assist those on board 

31 - EU member states and the EU will not ensure those rescued are treated with dignity and that their human rights – including the right to seek asylum – are fully respected

32 - EU member states and the EU will continue unlawful push-back operations that deny refugees and migrants their rights, particularly on the Greece/Turkey border

33 - Countries receiving refugees from Syria will refuse to provide all people fleeing Syria, including Palestinian refugees who were resident in Syria, with a status giving them international protection 

34 - Countries receiving refugees from Syria will refuse to facilitate family reunification for refugees from Syria 

35 - Syria’s neighbouring countries will not maintain open borders to all people fleeing the conflict in Syria - without discrimination 

36 - Syria’s neighbouring countries will fail to ensure all people fleeing Syria are not forcibly returned to Syria

37 - The government of Turkey will not investigate and prosecute members of ISIS suspected of committing, being complicit in or having command responsibility for war crimes in al-Raqqa, Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria

38 - The government of Turkey will fail to prevent the entry of fighters and arms flows to ISIS forces in Syria and to other armed groups believed to be responsible for committing war crimes in Syria 

39 - Gulf state governments will fail to publicly renounce the provision of any financial or material support, including arms transfers, to ISIS and all other armed groups alleged to be responsible for committing war crimes or grave human rights abuses in Syria 

40 - Gulf state governments will fail to take effective measures to prevent the transfer of financial or material support to ISIS and other armed groups alleged to be committing war crimes and serious human rights abuses in Syria 

41 - The Russian and Iranian governments will fail to effectively pressure the Assad regime to stop committing crimes under international law

42 - The Russian and Iranian governments will fail to effectively pressure the Assad regime to give unhindered access to humanitarian organisations, the UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry and human rights organisations  

43 - Participants at the proposed Geneva 2 meeting will fail to prioritise the human rights of all Syrians in any negotiations or agreements

44 - Participants at the proposed Geneva 2 meeting will pursue policies which offer immunity or other similar measure for crimes under international law or gross human rights violations

Ultimately, those failing Syrian civilians are those committing, facilitating and justifying human rights violations and abuses. Clearly it is the regime which is committing the majority of the violations and at the root of the uprising / conflict is the poverty, corruption, repression and impunity both Assad regimes have overseen for the past four decades and more. This doesn’t give a free pass to those opposed to the regime to commit human rights abuses.

And yes, there are many positive examples of Syrians and internationals helping to build a new Syria based on human rights for all. I’ve touched on these initiatives over the year and Amnesty aims to spend a lot more time on these initiatives in 2014. So it’s not all doom and gloom – there is still hope for a new Syria - we have to help make it happen. So keep calling out the war crimes apologists -  Have solidarity with those peacefully demanding their own and others human rights and have defiance against those trying to stop them. Happy New Year.

Kristyan Benedict is on Twitter as @KreaseChan

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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1 comment

Honesty and openness about the situation in Syria wn't be improved while delusional human rights organisations fool themselves into believing everyone in the opposition, bar ISIS, is a goodie who wants peace, happiness, democracy and wonderfulness for Syria..

Unfortunately, Amnesty's point man on Syria dismisses anyone who knows otherwise as a regime apologist.



<em>[ Comment edited as it broke our <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/community-rules">community rules</a> ]</em>

paul.pauljackson 4 years ago