Syria: Silence is not an option

Nabil el-Araby, head of the League,
with Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad last Saturday.
(Photo: Government of Syria)

Source: International Federation of Human Rights

More than 170 national, regional and international civil society organizations sent an open letter to Dr. Nabil El Araby, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, urging the bloc to put pressure on Syria’s government to effectively end the crackdown on peaceful opposition, release all political prisoners and provide compensation for victims.

The signatory groups, among them several focal points of Social Watch, such as the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, the Human Rights Information and Training Center (Yemen), the Bahrain Human Rights Society, and the Tunisian Organization for Democratic Women, commended the League for its approach to Syria’s crisis, but they added: “We are concerned that it lacks guarantees and benchmarks to ensure its successful implementation”

“In order to ensure the principles set forth in the LAS plan are fully respected by the Syrian authorities, clear and publicly established criteria based on international standards are necessary. An effective mechanism of monitoring and reporting to ensure the cessation of violence as well as the implementation of reforms on the ground should be an integral part of the Arab League’s initiative,” said the organizations

“In addition, an effective Arab approach cannot avoid the principle of accountability for the serious human rights violations the regime has and is committing at the moment. Thus in any meeting with President Assad, we urge the Secretary General to reiterate that Syria should grant access to the Commission of Inquiry mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate human rights violations in Syria,” they remarked.

“In case the Syrian authorities refuse to cooperate and commit massive human rights abuses, we urge the League to support sanctions against Syria and its rulers, including through the UN Security Council,” they added.

The organizations asked the League of Arab States to reiterate “a formal, public call for the immediate cessation of the use of force against the civilian population in Syria”, to “ensure that those responsible for crimes, including unlawful killings and the use of force” are held accountable, and to send observers to Syria “to verify and monitor the cessation of violations”.

They also recommended the League to support “the UN Security Council to instate comprehensive travel bans and to freeze assets on targeted individuals responsible for the crackdown, stating the conditions under which the above sanctions can be lifted” and to declare “an immediate embargo on weapons and effectively monitoring and controlling borders to prevent arms smuggling”.

The groups said that the League must call on Syrian authorities “to cooperate and grant access to the UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights violations” and suspend Syria's membership rights at the organization, “including the right to vote”.

“Citizens of the Arab world share the desire to see an end to the bloodshed in Syria and to see the League of Arab States act as the leading regional organization to protect and uphold the common values of the Arab world at this critical and historical moment. We trust the League will now play a more active and instrumental role in ending these grave human rights violations against the Syrian population,” the groups concluded in their open letter.

These are the signatories of the statement:

International Organizations:
Human Rights Watch
International Federation for Human Rights

Regional Coalitions:
Non Violence Network in the Arab Countries (20 organisations)
MENA Coalition to Stop use of Child Soldiers (20 organisations)
MENA Action Network on Small Arms (20 organisations)
Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network
The Arab Reform Initiative (France)
Middle East and North Africa Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflict

The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights
Algerian Coordination for the Families of the Missing

Bahrain Youth Forums Society
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Bahrain Human Rights Society
Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Arab Forum for Alternatives, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
The Arab Program for Human Rights Activists
Arab Foundation for Civil Society and Human Rights Support
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
Annie Centre for Human Rights and Development
Civil Observatory for Human Rights
Citizenship  Human Rights Organization
Shumuu for Human Rights
Egyptian Association for Scientific and Technological Development
Egyptian Foundation for Refugees Rights
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information
The Arabic Center for Development and Human Rights
South Center for Human Rights
The Arabic Media Crisis Network
Center for Alternative Study & Development Programs
Taha Hussein Foundation for Civic Education
Sudan Children Association
Egyptian Center for Innovation and Development
Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights
Bader Foundation for Social Development and Peace
Maan for Human Rights
The Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession
New Generation Foundation for Human Rights-North Sinai
Freedom Center for Political Studies and Human Rights
Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
Egyptian Foundation for Advancement of the Childhood Condition.

Iraqi Network for Human Rights

Observatory for Human Rights and Environment
Equality Center for Democratic Studies and Research
Justice Center for Human Rights Studies
Center for Civic Collaboration.

Kuwait Organization for Human Rights
Citizens Against Corruption.

Permanent Peace Movement
Lebanese Transparency Association
Palestinian Association for Human Rights

Libyan Arab Association for Human Rights
Society for Human Rights

Northern League for Development of Democracy and Human Rights
National Commission for Human Rights in Mauritania
Arab Organization for Human Rights-Mauritania
Mauritanian Association for the Protection of Democracy
Mauritanian gathering of Democratic Women
Mauritanian Association for the Promotion of Human Rights.

Forum alternatives-Morocco
Democratic Organization of Work in Morocco
National Association of Unemployed Graduates in Morocco
Badail Forum-Juosour
Development Association
Union of Youth of the Future
Nibrass Community Assocation
Centre for Human Rights Education
Center of People's Rights
Lead Foundation
Moroccan Organization for Human Rights
Moroccan Organization for Human Rights Education.

Conscience Foundation for Detainees Affairs
Union of Palestinian Women's Committees
Human Rights & Democracy Media Center

National Human Rights Committee
Dr. Najeeb Alnauimi (Ex-Minister  of Justice)

Saudi Arabia:
Human Rights First Society.

Al-khatim Adlan Center Enlightenment and Human Development
Sudan Development Association SDA
Civil Observatory for Human Rights
Darfur Democratic Platform
Amal Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of violence
Sobat Center for Peace and Capacity Building
Solidarity Trade Union
Center for the Study of Human Development-Fanar
Global Center for Culture of Peace
Africa Centre for Human Rights
Darfur’s Lawyers Association
Darfur Center for Promoting Peace
Darfur Media & Press Association
Dwana Organization for Human Development
Community Development Association
Women for Cultural and Social Development Association
Arbab Cultural Center
Sara Fadil Organization for Peace and Development.

Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies
National Organization for Human Rights.        

National Council for Liberties
Observatory of the Tunisian Trade Union Rights and Freedoms
Tunisian Organization for Democratic Women

Emirates Organization for Human Rights

Social Democratic Forum
Sisters  Arab Forums for Human Rights
Human Rights Information and Training Center
Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights
Yemeni Organization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms
Media Women Forum
Community Development Foundation
Political Development Forum
The National Commission for the Defense of Freedoms
Democracy School, National Organization for Community Development
Yemeni Syndicate of Doctors and Pharmacists
Partners Foundation for Future Development