Blogland,  Syria

The easily-impressed Mr. Newman

The Socialist Unity blog has had virtually nothing to say about events in Syria during the eight months that the Assad regime has been brutally and murderously suppressing anti-government protests. But when the Syrian authorities organize a demonstration against the latest Arab League sanctions, Andy Newman considers it worth publicizing with apparent approval and/or credulity. Doesn’t the scene of the obedient crowd massed below the enormous picture of President Assad strike him as kind of, y’know, fascistic?

(A reminder to Mr. Newman and others who take such demonstrations at face value: participation is not always voluntary and the consequences for refusing can be deadly.)

Meanwhile, as Mr. Newman may or may not know, a UN commission of inquiry has accused the Syrian regime of crimes against humanity.

Syria is “responsible for wrongful acts, including crimes against humanity, committed by members of its military and security forces as documented in the present report,” the three-member panel said in a 39-page report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

It catalogues executions, torture, rapes including of children, arbitrary detentions and abductions carried out since March by Syrian forces quashing pro-democracy demonstrations while enjoying “systemic impunity” for their crimes, it said.

“The commission therefore believes that orders to shoot and otherwise mistreat civilians originated from policies and directives issued at the highest levels of the armed forces and the government,” said the team, led by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro.
Syria refused access to the U.N. investigators, saying it was carrying out its own inquiry. But the U.N. report pointed the finger squarely at the government of Assad.

“In the Syrian Arab Republic, the high toll of dead and injured is the result of the excessive use of force by state forces in many regions,” it said.

It called for protecting the Syrian population and for an international embargo on arms sales to Syria.

There had been “isolated instances” of violence by demonstrators, but the “majority of civilians were killed in the context of peaceful demonstrations,” it said.

Syrian forces have used snipers and tanks to suppress the uprising and drawn up “black lists” with names of people wanted by the authorities and sought at checkpoints, it said.

“Defectors from the military and security forces told the commission that they had received orders to shoot at unarmed protesters without warning,” the report said.

Some soldiers who disobeyed these orders were shot by the security forces or by army snipers, it said.

“A number of cases was documented of injured people who were taken to military hospitals, where they were beaten and tortured during interrogation,” it said. “Children were also tortured, some to death.”

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