The human rights chief of the United Nations called Tuesday for an immediate ceasefire in Syria amidst reports of relentless brutality by the security forces of President Bashar al-Assad against protesters.
Navi Pillay, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she is “appalled” by the continuing violence in Syria and appealed to all parties in the country to stop the bloodshed so the wounded can receive medical treatment.
At a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Pillay cited the “rapidly deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation.”
At least 8,000 people, most civilians, have been killed in Syria since the revolt erupted last March. The killings have accelerated recently due to the Assad regime’s bombardment of the city of Homs, an opposition stronghold.
“There must be an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to end the fighting and bombardments,” she stated.
Reportedly, hundreds of people have died in the city in recent weeks.
Pillay has asked the Syrian government to allow foreign observers to enter the country and be granted unfettered access to areas where opposition members have been detained. She conceded that Damascus has already abided by some concessionary measures, including allowing the entry of Red Cross officials and agreeing to release hundreds of political prisoners.
“However, these steps pale into insignificance in the face of the continuing onslaught of violence and arrest against people by state actors,” she stated.
“What is urgently needed today is for the killings to stop. For that to happen the international community must unite in sending a clear message to the Syrian authorities and the Security Council must assume its responsibility to protect the population of Syria. More than at any other time, those committing atrocities in Syria have to understand that the international community will not stand by and watch this carnage and that their decisions and the actions they take today ultimately will not go unpunished.”
U.N. General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser agreed with Pillay.
“The Syrian authorities must immediately end the killings and halt all human rights violations. All parties in Syria must immediately stop all violence and reprisals,” he stated.
However, the Syrian representative at the U.N. meeting, Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui, denounced the meeting and stormed out of the session to protest. He also claimed that the world organization was a pawn of Syrian opposition groups.
“Considering the fact that the concepts of protection and humanitarian intervention are being manipulated in a flagrant manner for political reasons, my delegation declares its withdrawal from this sterile discussion,” he declared.
“We also declare that we do not recognize the legitimacy of this session. Nor the legitimacy of any malicious and prejudiced resolutions it may adopt.”