Friends in low places: the Syria veto and its consequences
Please be aware that the video content in this post contains scenes of graphic violence which some users may find distressing.
It has been a bloody weekend in Homs. Footage has been coming in thick and fast all day today, showing the shelling bombardment of parts of Homs thought to be under the control of opposition groups.
Reports of the shelling of a field hospital, and scores of injured and dead have filled the airwaves. Today, Amnesty has been struggling to get through to people on the ground in Homs, which is further testament to the scale of the isolation there.
Isolation and abandonment. The decision, at the start of the weekend, that Russia and China would exercise their power of veto was the green light for this latest onslaught. Even a UN security resolution which we had already criticised for being too weak, proved more than Russia or China could stomach. They stood in the way of the Security Council’s attempt to show a united international front of condemnation. In so doing, they gave Assad the nod. Worse still, see this shameful profiteering aspect to Russia’s involvement. Not only are they letting Syrian troops advance on civilian neighbourhoods, they have sent them the kit.
It is a deeply depressing time. Because of the pseudo-blackout in Homs, it is feared we will not know the full scale of the horror unfolding there for some time. Save for some brave journalists who are embedded with the locals. The BBC's Paul Wood said today that mortars were landing every 30 seconds from 6am and troops were reportedly massing on the outskirts of the city
Speaking of a “doomed” and a “murdering” regime, Hague told the House that he had recalled the British Ambassador to Syria. He said that China and Russia would have blood on their hands for the ensuing bloodshed. The US, likewise, closed their embassy there this afternoon.
Yet that must be cold comfort indeed for those entrapped in pockets of Homs tonight, with nowhere to run to. China and Russia have betrayed them with this veto and that is unlikely to be forgotten. Just when he was starting to look isolated, it turns out Assad still has some high-powered friends in low places and for now they’re sticking to his guns.
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.