Wed, Feb 29, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Syria ambassador storms out of UN rights meeting

Reuters, Geneva

Syrian Ambassador to the UN Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui yesterday stormed out of the UN Human Rights Council after angrily demanding that countries stop “inciting sectarianism and providing arms” to opposition forces in the country.

Hamoui said sanctions were preventing Damascus from buying medicines and fuel and then abruptly left the Geneva forum’s emergency debate called at the request of Gulf countries and Turkey, and backed by the West.

“We reaffirm to all those alleged friends of the Syrian people that the simple step to immediately help the Syrian people is to stop inciting sectarianism, providing arms and weapons and funding and putting the Syrian people one against the other,” he said.

“Unjust and unilateral sanctions imposed by some countries on the Syrian people are preventing access to medicines, to fuel in all forms as well as electricity, and are also impeding bank transfers to buy these materials,” he said.

The EU yesterday imposed sanctions on seven Syrian Cabinet ministers for their role in a bloody crackdown on dissent, the latest move aimed at forcing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

The UN’s main human rights body yesterday was set to condemn Syria for using heavy weapons on residential areas and persecuting opponents, its fourth rebuke to al-Assad in an 11-month uprising.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov took the floor to say that only the Syrian people could decide their country’s political future.

“The important thing today is that we give a chance to the Syrians themselves to overcome this crisis,” he said.

“Today it is clear aims to instil democracy through force are doomed to disaster and achieve the opposite. What is important today is that we do not allow for a full-scale civil war in Syria,” he said.

US Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer said that “Assad and his criminal cohort are waging a brutal campaign of slaughter, bombardment, torture and arrest that has already murdered thousands of women, men and children.”

“Bashar al-Assad must go, and there must be a Syrian-led democratic political transition that meets the long-suppressed aspirations of the Syrian people,” she said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she was appalled at the rapidly deteriorating rights and humanitarian situation in Syria and shelling of Homs.

Hospitals are overwhelmed and makeshift clinics have been set up in hard-hit areas to treat the wounded, she said.

Pillay, a former UN war crimes judge, reiterated that Syria should be referred to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

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