Syrian Arab Republic
Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah
Joined United Nations: 24 October 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 02 March 2013
note: the population estimates previously published on this site for the West Bank, East
Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights are under review, please check back in the future for revised
estimates(July 2012 est.)
Prime Minister since 9 August 2012
President approved by popular referendum for a second seven-year
term (no term limits); referendum last held on 27 May 2007; the
president appoints the vice president
Next scheduled election: 2014
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
President appoints the prime minister and deputy prime ministers;
elections: last held on 7 May 2012
Next scheduled election: 2016
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%
Sunni Muslim 74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Druze) 16%, Christian (various denominations) 10%, Jewish (tiny
communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)
Republic under an authoritarian military-dominated regime with 14 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Legal system is
based on a combination of French and Ottoman civil law; Islamic law is used in the family court system; has not accepted
compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive: President approved by popular referendum for a second seven-year term (no term limits); referendum last held on 27
May 2007 (next to be held in May 2014); the president appoints the vice presidents, prime minister, and deputy prime ministers
Legislative: unicameral People's Assembly or Majlis al-Shaab (250 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year
elections: last held on 7 May 2012 (next to be held in 2016)
Judicial: Supreme Judicial Council (appoints and dismisses judges; headed by the president); national level - Supreme
Constitutional Court (adjudicates electoral disputes and rules on constitutionality of laws and decrees; justices appointed for
four-year terms by the president); Court of Cassation; Appeals Courts (Appeals Courts represent an intermediate level between the
Court of Cassation and local level courts); local level - Magistrate Courts; Courts of First Instance; Juvenile Courts; Customs
Courts; specialized courts - Economic Security Courts (hear cases related to economic crimes); Supreme State Security Court
(hear cases related to national security); Personal Status Courts (religious; hear cases related to marriage and divorce)
Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood; French, English somewhat understood
Archaeologists have demonstrated that civilization in Syria was one of the most ancient on earth. Around the excavated city of Ebla
in northern Syria, an Italian mission led by Prof. Paolo Matthiae discovered in 1975, a great Semitic empire spread from the Red
Sea north to Turkey and east to Mesopotamia from 2500 to 2400 BC Ebla appears to have been founded around 3000 BC and
gradually built its empire through trade with the cities of Sumer and Akkad, as well as with peoples to the northwest. Gifts from
Pharoah found during excavations confirm Ebla's contact with Egypt. Scholars believe the language of Ebla to be among the oldest
known written Semitic languages. The Eblan civilization was likely conquered by Sargon of Akkad around 2260 BC; the city was
restored as the nation of the Amorites a few centuries later and flourished through the early second millennium BC until conquered
by the Hittites. During the second millennium BC, Syria was occupied successively by Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Arameans as
part of the general disruptions associated with the Sea Peoples. The Hebrews eventually settled south of Damascus, in the areas
later known as Palestine; the Phoenicians settled along the coastline of these areas as well as in the west, in the area (Lebanon)
already known for its cedars. Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Hittites variously occupied the strategic ground of
Syria during this period, as it was a marchland between their various empires. Eventually the Persians took control of Syria as part
of their general control of Southwest Asia; this control transferred to the Greeks after Alexander the Great's conquests and thence
to the Romans and the Byzantines. Syria was an important Roman province from 64 BC. In the 3rd century Syria was home to
Elagabalus, a Roman emperor of the Severan dynasty who reigned from 218 to 222. Elagabalus' family held hereditary rights to the
priesthood of the sun god El-Gabal, of whom Elagabalus was the high priest at Emesa (modern Homs) in Syria. Syria is significant in
the history of Christianity; Paul was converted on the Road to Damascus and established the first organized Christian Church at
Antioch in ancient Syria, from which he left on many of his missionary journeys. In 616 Syria was subjugated for a brief period by
the Persian Khosrau II; from 622 till 628 it was again Byzantine; 636 and the immediately following years saw its conquest by the
Muslims (see Battle of Yarmuk). Muawiya I, the first Omayyad caliph, chose Damascus for his residence. During the struggles of
the Islamic dynasties for the possession of Syria the country still enjoyed a considerable degree of prosperity. In 750, it came under
Abbasid dominion, losing prominence due to the move of Abbasid capital to Baghdad. From 960 to c. 1020 the Byzantine Empire
launched a string of successful counter-attacks, capturing Antioch, Tarsus and Aleppo (twice). Under John Tzimiskes Syria was
completely overrun; Damascus itself, the former capital of the Islamic world was captured, although only for a brief period. The
invasion of Seljuk Turks in the latter half of the 11th century put an end to Byzantine Syria. Nonetheless the majority of the
Population remained Christian, allowing for a significant pool of Turcopoles to be raised in the Crusader armies. In the 12th century,
Syria was conquered by the Fatimids, and became the center of anti-crusader activity, especially for Zengi, Nur-ed din and his
successor and rival, Saladin. Even so, sections of the coastline of Syria were briefly held by Frankish crusader states. In the 13th
century, the first Mongols arrived, destroying cities and irrigation works. By the end of the 15th century, the discovery of a sea route
from Europe to the Far East ended the need for an overland trade route through Syria. Shattered by the Mongols, Syria was part of
the Ottoman Empire from the 16th through 20th centuries, and found itself largely apart from, and ignored by, world affairs. After
World War I, the Ottoman Empire was dissolved, and in 1922 the League of Nations split the dominion of the former Syria
between two countries: the United Kingdom received Transjordan and Palestine, and France received what was to become
modern-day Syria and Lebanon. In 1920, an independent Arab Kingdom of Syria was established under King Faisal of the
Hashemite family, who later became the King of Iraq. However, his rule over Syria ended after only a few months, following the
clash between his Syrian Arab forces and regular French forces at the Battle of Maysalun. French troops occupied Syria later that
year after the League of Nations put Syria under French mandate. In 1925, Syrian resistance to French colonial rule broke out in
full scale revolt. Syria and France negotiated a treaty of independence in September of 1936, and Hashim al-Atassi, who was Prime
Minister under King Faisal's brief reign, was the first president to be elected under a new constitution, effectively the first incarnation
of the modern republic of Syria. However, France reneged on the treaty and refused to ratify it. With the fall of France in 1940
during World War II, Syria came under the control of the Vichy Government until the British and Free French occupied the country
in July 1941. Syria proclaimed its independence again in 1941 but it wasn't until January 1, 1944 that it was recognized as an
independent republic. On February 26 1945 Syria declared war on Germany and Japan. Although rapid economic development
followed the declaration of independence, Syrian politics from independence through the late 1960s was marked by upheaval. In
1949, Syria's national government was overthrown by a military coup d'etat led by Hussni al-Zaim. Later that year Zaim was
overthrown by his colleague Sami al-Hinnawi. Few months later, Hinnawi was overthrown by Colonel Adib al-Sheeshakli. The
latter continued to rule the country until 1954, when growing public opposition forced him to resign and leave the country. In
November 1956 Syria signed a pact with the Soviet Union, providing a foothold for Communist influence within the government in
exchange for planes, tanks, and other military equipment being sent to Syria. Syria's political instability during the years after the
1954 coup, the parallelism of Syrian and Egyptian policies, and the appeal of Egyptian President Gamal Abdal Nasser's leadership
in the wake of the Suez crisis created support in Syria for union with Egypt. On February 1, 1958, Syrian president Shukri
al-Kuwatli and Nasser announced the merging of the two countries, creating the United Arab Republic, and all Syrian political
parties, as well as the Communists therein, ceased overt activities. The union was not a success, however. Following a military coup
on September 28, 1961, Syria seceded, reestablishing itself as the Syrian Arab Republic. In Junewar 1967 Syria opened an attack
on Israel and shelled Israeli villages from the Golan, and Israel invaded , captured and occupied the Golan. Syria and captured and
occupied the Golan . This invasion weakened the radical socialist regime established by the 1966 coup. Conflict developed between
an extremist military wing and a more moderate civilian wing of the Baath Party. The 1970 retreat of Syrian forces sent to aid the
PLO during the "Black September" hostilities with Jordan reflected this political disagreement within the ruling Baath leadership. On
November 13, 1970, Minister of Defense Hafiz al-Asad effected a bloodless military coup, ousting the civilian party leadership and
assuming the role of President. Hafiz al-Assad died on June 10, 2000, after 30 years in power. Immediately following al-Assad's
death, the Parliament amended the constitution, reducing the mandatory minimum age of the President from 40 to 34, which allowed
his son, Bashar al-Assad, to become legally eligible for nomination by the ruling Baath party. On July 10, 2000, Bashar al-Assad
was elected President. On October 5, 2003, Israel bombed a site near Damascus, claiming it was a terrorist training facility for
members of Islamic Jihad. The raid was in retaliation for the bombing of a restaurant in the Israeli town of Haifa that killed 19.
Islamic Jihad said the camp was not in use; Syria said the attack was on a civilian area. The United States Congress passed the
Syria Accountability Act in 2003, with the goal of ending what the U.S. sees as Syrian involvement in Lebanon, Iraq, terrorism, and
weapons of mass destruction through international sanctions. President Assad visited Turkey in January 2004, the first Syrian leader
to do so. The trip marked the end of decades of frosty relations, although ties were to sour again after 2011. In May 2004, the
USA imposed economic sanctions on Syria over what it called its support for terrorism and failure to stop militants entering Iraq.
Tensions with the US escalated in early 2005 after the killing of the former Lebanese PM Hariri in Beirut. Renewed opposition
activity occurred in October 2005 when activist Michel Kilo and other opposition figures launched the Damascus Declaration,
which criticized the Syrian government as "authoritarian, totalitarian and cliquish" and called for democratic reform. An Israeli air
strike against a site in northern Syria in September 2007 was a setback to improving relations. The Israelis claimed the site was a
nuclear facility under construction with North Korean help.In 2008, an explosion killed 17 on the outskirts of Damascus, the most
deadly attack in Syria in several years. 2009 saw a number of high level meetings between Syrian and US government diplomats
and officials. US special envoy George J. Mitchell visited for talks with President Assad on Middle East peace. The thaw in
diplomatic relations came to an abrupt end. In May 2010, the USA renewed sanctions against Syria, saying that it supported
terrorist groups, seeks weapons of mass destruction and has provided Lebanon's Hezbollah with Scud missiles in violation of UN
resolutions. In 2011 the UN's IAEA nuclear watchdog reported Syria to the UN Security Council over its alleged covert nuclear
programme. The Syrian Uprising (later known as the Syrian civil war) is an ongoing internal conflict between the Syrian army and
the rebel Free Syrian Army. Encouraged by the Arab Spring, there were pro-reform protests in Damascus and the southern city of
Deraa in March 2011. Protestors demanded political freedom and the release of political prisoners. This was immediately followed
by a government crackdown whereby the Syrian Army was deployed to quell unrest. In July 2011, some of the anti-Assad groups
met in Istanbul with a view to bringing the various internal and external opposition groups together. They agreed to form the Syrian
National Council. In December 2011, Syria agreed to an Arab League initiative allowing Arab observers into the country.
Thousand of people gathered in Homs to greet them, but the League suspended the mission in January 2012, citing worsening
violence. Syria-Turkish tension increased in October 2012, when Syrian mortar fire hit a Turkish border town and killed five
civilians. On 20 December 2012, a UN Independent Commission of Inquiry said that Syria's newest insurgent groups increasingly
operate independently of the rebel command and some are affiliated with al-Qaeda. Many of the insurgents are foreign fighters.
According to the anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, almost 44,000 people have died since the insurgency against
Source: Wikipedia: History of Syria
Despite modest economic growth and reform prior to the outbreak of unrest, Syria's economy continues to suffer the effects of the
ongoing conflict that began in 2011. The economy further contracted in 2012 because of international sanctions and reduced
domestic consumption and production. The government has struggled to address the effects of economic decline, including
dwindling foreign exchange reserves, rising budget and trade deficits, and the decreasing value of the Syrian pound. Prior to the
unrest, Damascus began liberalizing economic policies, including cutting lending interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating
multiple exchange rates, raising prices on some subsidized items, and establishing the Damascus Stock Exchange. The economy
remains highly regulated by the government. Long-run economic constraints include foreign trade barriers, declining oil production,
high unemployment, rising budget deficits, and increasing pressure on water supplies caused by heavy use in agriculture, rapid
population growth, industrial expansion, and water pollution.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Syria)
The Asad regime (little has changed since Bashar al-Asad succeeded his father) has held power for a long time, second in the Arab
world after Muammar al-Qaddafi's 36 year dictatorship. Asad's regime's survival is due partly to a strong desire for stability and the
regime's success in giving groups such as religious minorities and peasant farmers a stake in society. The expansion of the
government bureaucracy has also created a large class loyal to the regime. The President's continuing strength is due also to the
army's continued loyalty and the effectiveness of Syria's large internal security apparatus, the top leaderships of which are comprised
largely of members of Asad's own Alawi sect. The several main branches of the security services operate independently of each
other and outside the legal system. Each continues to be responsible for human rights violations.
There was a surge of interest in political reform after Bashar al-Asad assumed power in 2000. Human rights activists and other civil
society advocates, as well as some Parliamentarians, became more outspoken during a period referred to as "Damascus Spring"
(July 2000-February 2001). Asad also made a series of appointments of reform-minded advisors to formal and less formal
positions, and included a number of similarly oriented individuals in his Cabinet. The arrest and long-term detention of two reformist
Parliamentarians, Ma’mun al-Humsy and Riad Seif, in August and September 2001, respectively, and the apparent marginalizing of
some of the reformist advisors in the past four years, indicate that the pace of any political reform in Syria is likely to be much
slower than the short-lived Damascus Spring promised.
The Ba'ath Party dominates the Legislature, which is known as the People's Council. Elected every 4 years, the Council has no
independent authority. Although legislators may criticize policies and modify draft laws, they cannot initiate laws, and the executive
branch retains ultimate control over the legislative process. During 2002, two independent members of Legislature who had
advocated political reforms were stripped of their parliamentary immunity and tried and convicted of charges of "attempting to
illegally change the constitution." The government has allowed independent non-NPF candidates to run for a limited allotment of
seats in the 250-member People's Council. The current allotment of non-NPF deputies is 83, ensuring a permanent absolute
majority for the Ba'ath Party-dominated NPF. Elections for the 250 seats in the People's Council last took place in 2007.
The new Syrian constitution of 2012 introduced multi-party system based on the principle of political pluralism without guaranted
leadership of any political party. The Syrian army and security services maintained a considerable presence in the neighbouring
Lebanese Republic from 1975 until 24 April 2005; for more detail on this, see Syrian presence in Lebanon. Syria's Emergency Law
was in force from 1963, when the Ba'ath Party came to power, until 21 April 2011 when it was rescinded by Bashar al-Assad
(decree 161). The law, justified on the grounds of the continuing war with Israel and the threats posed by terrorists, suspended most
constitutional protections. The last parliamentary election was on 7 May 2012 and the results were announced on 15 May.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Syria
Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied with the almost 1,000-strong UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) patrolling a buffer
zone since 1964; lacking a treaty or other documentation describing the boundary, portions of the Lebanon-Syria boundary are
unclear with several sections in dispute; since 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shab'a Farms in the Golan Heights; 2004 Agreement and
pending demarcation settles border dispute with Jordan; approximately two million Iraqis have fled the conflict in Iraq with the
majority taking refuge in Syria and Jordan
Refugees (country of origin): 101,244 (Iraq); 486,946 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA))
IDPs: more than 2 million (2011-2012 civil war) (2012)
A transit point for opiates, hashish, and cocaine bound for regional and Western markets; weak anti-money-laundering controls
and bank privatization may leave it vulnerable to money laundering
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Syria
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
Syria is a republic ruled by the authoritarian regime of President Bashar al-Asad. The president makes key decisions with counsel from a
small number of security advisors, ministers, and senior members of the ruling Ba’ath (Arab Socialist Renaissance) Party. The
constitution mandates the primacy of Ba’ath Party leaders in state institutions and society. President Asad and party leaders dominate all
three branches of government. Asad was confirmed as president for his second seven-year term in a 2007 yes-or-no referendum that
was neither free nor fair by international standards. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
Calls for democratic reform by nonviolent demonstrators began in mid-March and continued through year’s end. The Asad regime used
indiscriminate and deadly force to quell such protests, including military assaults on several cities. For example, in late April the regime
deprived the southern city of Dara’a of electricity, water, and medical services, and it restricted entry and exit for approximately 20 days
while shelling mosques and other civilian targets. The regime maintained the use of deadly force against its citizens despite its agreement
to an Arab League plan to engage in reforms and cease killing civilians on November 2. The UN reported that more than 5,000 civilians
were killed during the year. When the protests began in March, local committees emerged and took responsibility for organizing events
within their own communities. Together the committees formed the Local Coordinating Committees (LCCs) of Syria.
The three most egregious human rights problems during the year were the regime’s denial of its citizens’ right to peacefully change the
government; massive attacks and strategic use of citizen killings as a means of intimidation and control; and denial of civil liberties such
as freedom of speech, assembly, and association.
Other serious problems included disappearances; torture and abuse; poor prison and detention center conditions; arbitrary arrest and
detention; denial of fair public trial; arbitrary interference with privacy; and lack of press, Internet, and academic freedom.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) remained restricted in practice, especially those that attempted to work in the areas of civil
society and democracy. The government restricted freedoms of religion and movement. Several groups in society, notably a portion of
the Kurdish population, were denied citizenship. There was limited progress on laws combating trafficking in persons. Violence and
societal discrimination against women and minorities continued, and workers’ rights remained restricted.
Impunity was pervasive and deeply embedded, as the government made no attempt to punish, arrest, or prosecute officials who violated
human rights. Corruption was rampant throughout the government, and the judiciary lacked independence.
According to government-controlled media, armed opposition groups committed numerous conflict-related abuses. Given a lack of
corroboration, the uncoordinated nature of armed groups, and the intensity of the conflict in many regions, it was extremely difficult to
confirm whether opposition groups had committed human rights violations.
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29 June 2012
Committee against Torture
7 May–1 June 2012
Consideration by the Committee against Torture of the implementation of the Convention in the Syrian Arab Republic in the
absence of a special report requested pursuant to article 19, paragraph 1, in fine
Concluding observations of the Committee against Torture
Syrian Arab Republic
Request of the Committee
2. By letter of 23 November 2011, addressed to the Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Committee invited the
Syrian Arab Republic to submit a special report on measures taken to ensure that all its obligations under the Convention were fully
implemented and expressed its deep concern about numerous, consistent and substantiated reports from reliable sources about
widespread violations to the provisions of the Convention by the authorities of the Syrian Arab Republic, including:
(a) Torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including children who were subjected to torture and mutilation while detained;
(b) Widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population, including killing of peaceful demonstrators and the excessive
use of force against them;
B. Consideration of the implementation of the Convention in the Syrian Arab Republic, in the absence of the special
report requested by the Committee
14. On 16 May 2012, in a public meeting, the Committee considered the situation of the implementation of the Convention in the
Syrian Arab Republic on the basis of the information available.
15. The Committee regretted that the State party did not submit the requested report. It also regretted that the State party did not
send a delegation to attend the meeting of 16 May 2012.
16. The Committee considered the implementation of the Convention in the State party on the basis of the available information
from numerous credible and reliable sources, including:
(a) The reports of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic of the Human Rights Council (A/HRC/S-
17/2/Add.1 and A/HRC/19/69);
C. Principal subject of concerns
18. The Committee is deeply concerned at consistent, credible, documented and corroborated allegations about the existence of
widespread and systematic violations of the provisions of the Convention against the civilian population of the Syrian Arab Republic
committed by the authorities of the State party and by militias (e.g. shabiha) acting at the instigation or with the consent or the
acquiescence of the authorities of the State party.
19. The Committee takes into account the finding of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic that “a
reliable body of evidence exists that … provides reasonable grounds to believe that particular individuals, including commanding officers
and officials at the highest levels of Government, bear responsibility for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights
violations” (A/HRC/19/69, para. 87). It also takes note of the statement of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights of
27 May 2012, according to which, “indiscriminate and possibly deliberate killing of villagers in the El Houleh area of Homs in Syria may
amount to crimes against humanity or other forms of international crime”.
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A Better Friend: How the U.S. Can Support Transition in Syria
Sep 29 2012 - 9:30am
Charles Dunne- Huffington Post
After the events of recent weeks, all eyes are again on the Middle East. Questions about America's response to the Arab Spring and how
best to support the fragile new democracies of the region are at the forefront of the debate. In Syria, as the Bashar al Assad regime
continues its brutal assault against its people, now in its 19th month, the time has come to reflect on how to set up the best possible start
for a legitimate successor government that will give it the strongest chance for a free, independent and democratic future.
Yesterday, September 28, the Friends of Syria group met in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The U.
S. announced increased humanitarian assistance and assistance to civilian opponents of Assad. While it would have been hard to get
agreement on military action, the United States should have used the meeting to capitalize support for tougher sanctions against the
Assad regime. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chaired the meeting and missed an opportunity to advocate for a new diplomatic option
-- one that not only tightens the squeeze on the Assad regime but also signals that the international community will support a new,
legitimate successor government as it starts to rebuild the country after Assad's departure.
Preemptive contract sanctions do just that. Under this approach, the United States, along with other members of the Friends of Syria,
would declare any new oil or arms contracts with the Assad regime illegitimate and not binding should a future, legitimate government
choose to repudiate them. This would further isolate the regime and signal that the economic pressure will not let up. But more
importantly, it will help protect the eventual post-Assad successor from having to repay any new debt that the regime takes on to fund
its oppression and help to give the new government a better start than that of other neighboring democracies that have emerged after the
fall of brutal regimes.
Preemptive contract sanctions also strengthen existing sanctions. They would likely have small short-run effects relative to the impact of
sanctions that the U.S., European, and other nations are currently imposing, but getting them in place now is essential to prevent new
contracts that continue to fund the violent repression of the Syrian people and tie the hands of a future legitimate Syrian government.
The Dutch Foreign Minister chaired a recent meeting on sanctions in the Netherlands and announced that the group will aim to 'seal all
the loopholes' in existing sanctions. As the law stands now, a U.S. citizen cannot enter into a contract with the Syrian government but a
Russian citizen can -- and then use U.S. courts to enforce that contract if a subsequent, legitimate Syrian government repudiates it. This
is clearly one such loophole that needs to be closed.
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Syria: Further information: Prosecutor denies holding Syrian lawyer
20 February 2013
There are increased concerns for the well-being of prominent Syrian human rights lawyer Khalil Ma’touq after the state denied holding
him, despite the fact that he has been seen in detention by other detainees.
Last week the public prosecutor replied to a request from a group of lawyers sent two months ago, denying that Khalil Ma’touq is being
detained. However, released detainees from the State Security branch 285 in Kafr Soussa in Damascus, the capital of Syria, reported
seeing Khalil Ma’touq held there within the last month. As such, Khalil Ma’touq appears to be a victim of enforced disappearance. As
his whereabouts and fate continue to be concealed, he is outside the protection of the law and at heightened risk of grave human rights
violations. There continues to be no further information on the fate or whereabouts of Khalil Ma’touq’s friend Mohammed Thatha, who
is also believed to have been arrested by state agents on 2 October 2012.
Please write immediately in English, Arabic or French or your own language:
Expressing deep concern that the public prosecutor has denied that Khalil Ma’touq is being held by the state, despite reports that he
was seen in detention as recently as a few weeks ago, and that there is no news about the fate of Mohammed Thatha who disappeared at
the same time as Khalil Ma’touq;
Calling on the Syrian authorities to urgently inform Khalil Ma’touq and Mohammed Thatha’s families of the two men’s fate and
whereabouts. If they are held solely on account of Khalil Ma’touq’s human rights work or for the peaceful exercise of their rights to
freedom of expression, association and assembly, they should be released immediately and unconditionally;
If both men are detained, urging the authorities to ensure that both men are protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and allowed
immediate contact with their families and lawyers of their choice and that
Khalil Ma’touq in particular, who has advanced lung disease, is granted access to all necessary medical care.
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Syria: Incendiary Weapons Used in Populated Areas
Evidence Military Used Bombs That Cause Horrendous Burns
December 12, 2012
(Washington, DC) – The Syrian military has used air-delivered incendiary bombs in at least four locations across Syria since mid-
November 2012. The conclusion is based on interviews with four witnesses and multiple videos analyzed by Human Rights Watch.
The Syrian military should cease its use of incendiary weapons immediately. A total of 106 nations have prohibited the use of air-
delivered incendiary weapons, which cause serious burns, in populated areas, but Syria has not banned the weapons.
“We’re disturbed that Syria has apparently begun using incendiary munitions, as these weapons cause especially cruel civilian suffering
and extensive property destruction when used in populated areas,” said Steve Goose, Arms division director at Human Rights Watch.
“Syria should stop using incendiary weapons in acknowledgment of the devastating harm this weapon causes.”
Incendiary weapons can contain any number of flammable substances, including napalm, thermite, or white phosphorus and are
designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injuries. They are not chemical weapons, which kill and incapacitate by the toxic
properties of the chemicals released.
Incendiary weapons produce extremely painful burns, often down to the bone, and can also cause respiratory damage. The burns are
difficult to treat, especially in conflict areas lacking adequate medical facilities, and the treatment itself can be excruciating. Permanent
scarring and disfigurement can lead to social ostracism. Incendiary weapons also cause fires to infrastructure due to their broad area
effect, which means they cannot be used in a way that discriminates between soldiers and civilians in populated areas.
Since mid-November, the use of incendiary weapons has been reported in at least four locations: Daraya in Damascus, Maarat al-Numan
in Idlib, Babila in Damascus, and Quseir in Homs. An activist told Human Rights Watch that four adults, including two Free Syrian Army
(FSA) fighters, were wounded during an airstrike using incendiary weapons in Maarat al-Numan on November 28. According to two
local activists and video footage, approximately 20 civilians including women and children were wounded on December 3 by an airstrike
on a school and neighboring homes in Quseir that apparently involved incendiary weapons. A home in Daraya also appears to have been
hit by incendiary weapons, based on local residents and footage reviewed.
Human Rights Watch is investigating unconfirmed reports of the use of incendiary weapons in other parts of Syria.
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Bashar al-Assad appeals to the Syrian People
by Thierry Meyssan
Voltaire Network | 14 January 2013
France and the Gulf monarchies are bent on presenting Bashar al-Assad as a bloody tyrant and on blaming him for the 60 000 victims
counted by the High Commissioner on Human Rights. Flipping this rhetoric, President al-Assad delivered a speech to the nation on
January 6, 2012. He emerged as the leader of a country under attack from the outside and he pronounced the eulogy of the 60 000
martyrs. Symbolizing this claim, a Syrian flag composed of faces of the victims was deployed in the background during his speech.
This intervention was designed to provide concrete details on how to operationalize the peace plan negotiated between the White House
and the Kremlin in the context of sharing the Middle East. Though the June 30th Geneva communiqué and the many contacts which
followed define the general architecture of the plan, numerous details remain to be negotiated.
The idea of a transitional government headed by Bashar al-Assad and including opposition leaders has been accepted by all parties, with
the exception of France and the Gulf monarchies. Paris, Riyadh and Doha continue to interpret the “transition” as the passage from a
Syria presided by Bashar al-Assad to a Syria without him. By contrast, Washington, Moscow and Damascus interpret the “transition” as
a process of pacification and reconciliation.
The Geneva Agreement establishes the principle of a government of national unity during the transition period. But the current
constitution, which is presidential-type, does not allow it. Ministers are revocable at any time by the President as are the secretaries in the
USA. Therefore, the creation of a government of national unity requires constitutional reform that gives guarantees to the opposition.
In his speech, Bashar al-Assad invited the opposition to develop with him a “national charter” that would provisionally amend the
constitution to set the objectives and modus operandi of the government during the transition period. Stealing the thunder of the
Europeans and of the Special envoy of the Secretary Generals of UN and the Arab League, Lakhdar Brahimi, he has announced that the
text would be submitted to a referendum. In other words the Syrian people will remain sovereign. Arrangements between the major
powers, such as Mr. Brahimi had engineered at Taif at the end of the Lebanese civil war, placing the Land of the Cedars under foreign
tutelage that continues to this day, is out of the question.
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30 Dec 12
Horrific Massacre in Dier Ba’alba in Homs
Human rights activists have reported that the district of Deir Ba’alba in Homs has witnessed a horrific massacre in which more than 220
civilians have been killed, following an attack on the area by Syrian regime forces and its Shabiha gangs. Whole families were executed,
amongst them children, women and elderly. The number of civilians killed in Homs today has reached 227 until the moment of the
writing of this report, amongst them 20 children and 20 women.
Whereas in Damascus and its suburbs, the number of those killed reached 55, 10 of them from the village of al-Nashabiah
In Aleppo and its suburbs, 39 were killed
In Deir Ezzor 21 were killed, among them 15 unidentified bodies
In Daraa, 11 were killed
In Hama, 11 were killed,
In Idlib, 6 were killed
And in Ar-Raqqah, two civilians were killed.
The Syrian Human Rights Committee (SHRC) calls upon the international community to immediately put forward measures to save the
lives of innocent civilians, and particularly in Homs, for the city has been subjected to a siege for more than 200 days and today, it was
subjected to one of the most horrific massacres in Syria to date.
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Scores dead in Syria's Raqa province: Observatory
Renewed violence continued across Syria a day after at least 70 people, including 22 civilians, were killed across the country, the Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights reported Saturday (March 2nd).
In Raqa province, mortars fell on Raqa city and fierce clashes continued for hours between opposition fighters and regime forces all
around the city, killing dozens of people, the Observatory said.
Damascus, Hama, Idlib, Deir Ezzor, Deraa and Aleppo provinces also saw fierce clashes and bombardment on Saturday, the monitoring
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President since 17 July 2000
Vice President since 11 February 2006
Current situation: Syria is a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation
and forced labor; a significant number of women and children in the large and expanding Iraqi refugee community in Syria are
reportedly forced into commercial sexual exploitation by Iraqi gangs or, in some cases, their families; women from Indonesia, Sri
Lanka, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone are recruited for work in Syria as domestic servants, but some face conditions of
involuntary servitude, including long hours, non-payment of wages, withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, threats, and
physical or sexual abuse
Tier rating: Tier 3 - Syria again failed to report any law enforcement efforts to punish trafficking offenses in 2007; in addition, the
government did not offer protection services to victims of trafficking and may have arrested, prosecuted, or deported some victims
for prostitution or immigration violations; Syria has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)
Lt. General Fahd Jassem al-Freij
Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Commander
in Charge of the Army since 18 July 2012
Vice President since 23 March 2006
Walid al-Mualem, Qadri Jamil and Umar Ibrahim Ghalawanji
Deputy Prime Ministers since 23 June 2012