Amnesty International Catalogs Syrian Violence

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Syrian citizen holds the remains of a projectile shot by a tank near the town of Khan Sheikhun. (Getty)

Violence continues to increase and the pressure continues to cook in Syria. International organizations are working around the clock to aid as many civilians as possible.  

Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera recently wrote a 79-page report called "Deadly Reprisals." In it, Rovera describes Syria’s condition. Over a year has passed since the uprisings began, and it only seems to be getting worse. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 17,000 people have already been killed. "I spoke to a family where seven members — four brothers and their three cousins — were shot dead in their home when the army swept through the village," Rovera recalls. "Then there bodies were set on fire." 

Having entered Syria without governmental permission, Rovera interviewed the beleaguered inhabitants of 23 of the country's small towns and villages. Security forces and government-armed criminals-turned-militiamen known as the shabiha are terrorizing the Syrian countryside and engaging in reckless destruction of lives and property, according to Rovera.

Rovera found a sense of disillusionment with the recent attempts by the United Nations to mitigate the chaotic violence that is gripping Syria and its people. "People were very, very scared, but they also wanted the world to know what was happening to them," she says. "They were asking why the international community has virtually deserted them, and that is what people just don't understand." 

The Amnesty International official fears that the state's brutal response to the uprising will set the stage for "revenge politics." The monopoly of violence is no longer solely in the hands of the state  — captured Syrian soldiers have been tortured and killed by opposition forces. "There is certainly a danger that, with more and more hatred building up every day [due to] the atrocities being committed by government forces and militia, then there will be revenge if and when things change," Rovera says. 

Reacting to Rovera's report is Syrian-American Farid Ghadry. Ghadry is the Syrian-born co-founder and president of the United States-based Reform Party of Syria, which is lobbying for regime change in Syria. The heightened violence coupled with the inaction of the international community could have extremely negative effects on the fabric of Syria and its future. 

"The [question] that Syrians have [is] why the international community is not coming to our assistance. Many of them are turning their anger towards the West, but also they're turning into extremist elements, elements of revenge, and into people who are just desperate." 

"Inaction has caused problems and will continue if we stay on the sideline," Ghadry says. He has urged Syrians to refrain from acts of vengeance against the state, but the tragedies wrought by the security forces and militias have been so devastating that the advice often falls on deaf ears. "It's very hard to tell someone whose family has been [killed] to hold off of revenge and to be more civil," he says. 

Guests:

Farid Ghadry and Donatella Rovera

Produced by:

Robert Balint, Ashley Wandishin and Jillian Weinberger

Comments [2]

I was disturbed that you quoted a representative of the Reform Party of Syria--who criticized President Obama--without indicating the political perspective of the Reform party. It turns out it is a conservative US based organization, whose founder is a defense contractor, an active participant in AIPAC and a supporter of former French President Sarkozy (source: Wikipedia). It is legitimate to have the party on but it should be identified so listeners have a framework to evaluate the remarks.

Similarly, in the period around the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Car Act, the TakeAway had a "constitutional law" professor comment. He was critical of the law---it turned out that he was a prime litigant against the law. This was hinted at about two-thirds of the way through the interview.

I hope this is not a pattern of having inadequately identified partisans appearing to give "neutral" commentary.

Jul. 14 2012 09:00 AM
Breck from Denver, CO

While the violence is terrible, the "Syrian Opposition" is mostly the radical Muslim Brotherhood. For the Christian/Judaeo West to intervene to make yet another country safe for the free worlds enemies is not an option, especially if it involves sending more American kids to die for a bunch of ingrates.

Jul. 12 2012 08:50 AM

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