(WNN) BREAKING SYRIA: United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice made a statement today strongly condemning the ongoing stream of violence in Syria.
The statement was made following a Tuesday January 10, 2012 UN Security Council briefing on the serious situation in the region lead by Lynn Pascoe, Head of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs.
“The briefing we received was alarming…” says Ambassador Rice during a UN Press communique released on Tuesday covering the UN Security Council briefing.
“The [UN] Under-Secretary-General noted that in the days since the Arab League monitoring mission has been on the ground, in fact an estimated 400 additional people have been killed, an average of 40 a day, a rate much higher than was the case even before their deployment,” Rice continued to tell press following her appearance at the briefing.
Internet freedom has also been curtailed as blogger Ms. Razan Ghazzawi was arrested and released after bail was paid following her days in detention. Other bloggers have also been arrested in a string of crackdowns since April that have been directed at bloggers to prevent them from speaking under restrictions limiting freedom of the press in the region. Ms. Tal Al-Mallohi, who’s twenty-first birthday fell on January 4 this year, has been serving a five year sentence since her arrest in 2009 on charges that were made against her because of her blog posts.
“This [Tal Al-Mallohi] is a deeply disturbing case,” said Kate Allen UK Director for Amnesty International in a September 2010 news release report on Al-Mallohi. “No-one should be detained just for discussing freedom of expression and if this is why Tal al-Mallohi is behind bars then it’s an absolute disgrace.”
As citizen protests continue, army defections are also on the rise in the region as inner political ‘blame-making’ among factions continues with violence and increased impunity. According to IFEX – International Freedom of Expression Exchange 18 team members working as journalists and/or supporting media staff were killed in Syria last year in 2011.
“To say that it’s a foreign conspiracy is frankly an insult to the people of Syria who are dying on the streets at the hands of their own government as they try to express freely their rights to peaceful expression and freedom of assembly and to bring about, through peaceful means, a better future and a more responsive government,” added Ambassador Rice on Tuesday.
The current situation of violence in Syria has accelerated and shows no sign of abatement since it began as part of the Arab Spring of 2011. Food shortages in the region, especially the east and the northeast, have also caught women and families off-guard as part of increasing pressures on families that often pay close to half their income on food. Coming at high prices for food items in short supply with large demand, less food is available due to grocery hording and tightening of food distribution channels during Syria’s unrest. This follows on the heels of a series of consecutive droughts in the region that impacted the region in 2006.
According to recent updates from FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) in Syria food crops are now attempting to catch up as rains reappeared in the region but corruption in the distribution channels continues to negatively impact food security.
On December 26, 2011 violence from two different suicide bombers caused the death of 44 people who were traveling by bus and car in downtown Damascus less than 24 hours before the Arab League monitoring program began inside the country. More recently on Friday January 6, 2012 another suicide bomb blast killed 23 people and injured 63 as part of continuing siege of conflict in the region. 15 people were also thought to have been killed but could not be positively identified immediately after the blast.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has stated more than 5,000 people have now died, including 300 children, as a result of violence based in Syria since the crack down on reform protests began last April. Following China, Iran, Egypt and Tunisia, Syria is currently number four in the top ten countries who have arrested bloggers.
“The figure [for the dead in Syria] exceeds five thousand so it is based on the evidence, the widespread and systematic nature of the killings – the detentions and the acts of torture – that I felt that these acts constituted crimes against humanity and I recommended that there should be a referral to [the] International Criminal Court,” said Pillay on December 12.
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