By Eileen Gould
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
DAMASCUS, Syria – Syrians protested in cities and towns across Syria to stage a “Day of Rage” in opposition to the government’s crackdown on the opposition. The United States imposed sanctions on officials responsible for human rights violations in Syria. The new sanctions in the executive order signed by President Obama on Friday builds on the sanctions that were imposed on Syria beginning in 2004 and calls on the United Nations human rights officials to investigate Syria for violations of international law.
The order named Maher al-Assad, brother of President Bashar al-Assad and an army commander, as one of the parties responsible for the incidents in Daraa. It also named Assad’s cousin, Atif Najib, who was the head of the Political Security Directorate for Daraa in March, when a large number of protesters were killed by security forces.
Another party named in the sanctions order is the Iranian Quds Force, as being involved in providing “material support to the Syrian government related to cracking down on unrest in Syria”.
According to human rights groups, at least twelve people were killed as security forces fired on protesters in two cities – Latakia, and Homs. In Daraa, a southern town, shots fired on protesters allegedly caused some casualties. The protesters gathered in the streets after leaving noontime prayer at the mosques.
In Homs, the protesters were shouting “leave, leave” to President Assad. The protests began in March as a democratic movement but have recently turned into more of a rebellion.
In response to demonstrations that occurred a week ago, Syria sent tanks into Daraa. Water, electricity and communications have been cut off there. According to human rights groups, at least thirty-eight individuals have died, although that number may in fact be much higher. On the other hand, state television reported that four army soldiers have been killed. The government has depicted the demonstrations as a rebellion by armed Islamist extremists.
The UN Human Rights Council approved the United States’ statement condemning the violence in Syria. China, Russia, and several African countries voted against this statement primarily because these nations oppose taking action similar to that which was done in Libya with Muammar Qaddafi.
For more information please see:
Christian Science Monitor – UN Council Issues Tepid Rebuke of Syria – 29 April 2011
Reuters – White House Calls on Syria Leader to Change Course – 29 April 2011
Washington Post – Syrian Troops Open Fire on Protesters; U.S. Imposes Sanctions – 29 April 29, 2011