Campaigners mark one year of bloodshed in Syria

Press release
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Russia urged to back UN action

Campaigners around the world will today (Thursday 15th March) mark one year of violence in Syria by calling on Russia to back UN Security Council action to end the crisis.

A coalition of 200 NGOs from 27 countries - including Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, CIVICUS and International Federation of Human Rights - is demanding that the UN Security Council immediately unite and pass a resolution calling on the Syrian government to stop indiscriminate shelling of civilian neighbourhoods and other violations of international law, stop arbitrary arrests and torture and grant urgent access to humanitarian workers, journalists and human rights monitors.

For a full year, the death toll in Syria has escalated to the horrifying total of more than 8,000 dead, including hundreds of children. Isn’t it time for the world to unite behind effective steps to stop this now? said Ziad Abdel Tawab, Deputy Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights.

Across the world, from Indonesia to Egypt, UK to South Africa, Turkey to Brazil, activists and celebrities will join a call for the international community to ‘Unite for Syria: Stop one year of bloodshed’.

Some of the world’s largest tweeps (influential individuals with a large following on Twitter), including Indonesian singer @SherinaMunaf, British actor @StephenFry and singer @NellyFurtado, will join leading activists from the Middle East, such as Egypt’s @AsmaaMahfouz and Syria’s @AnonymousSyria, in a Twitter campaign that will reach several millions of people. In solidarity with all those still engaged in non-violent protest in Syria, activists will also join celebrities by holding up hand-written placards calling on the international community to stop the killing.

Russia and China have twice blocked Security Council action, a defence of Assad that he has interpreted as a license to kill. Moscow and Beijing should stop providing diplomatic cover for Syrian atrocities, and start demanding an end to indiscriminate shelling and attacks on peaceful protesters said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch.

The coalition is calling on:

1. The UN Security Council to urgently pass a resolution calling on the Syrian government to bring an immediate end to its indiscriminate shelling and attacks on peaceful protesters
2. The international community to provide full support to Kofi Annan, the UN Special Representative for Syria, including to engage Russia and China in any UN initiative to end the crisis
3. The Syrian government and other armed actors to guarantee full and unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas of the country in which there is a need in accordance with international law
4. The ‘Friends of Syria’ group to uphold promises made in Tunis to provide funding for humanitarian assistance

The Syrian people have survived with outstanding courage one year of systematic and widespread crimes and bloodshed as the world stood by and watched. The international community must unite and help Syrians bring an end to the horror, said Souhayr Belhassen, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

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