Twenty-seven rights groups called Tuesday for the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] to convene a special session on Syria [press release]. The organizations asked the council to end its silence on Syria, especially in light of the ongoing recent killings [Huffington Post report] since the start of Ramadan. The letter demands that the council convene an emergency session, strongly condemn Syria, conduct public hearings on purported acts of violence, appoint a Special Rapporteur, and hold the Syrian government and military account for crimes against humanity:
In the past week alone, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has taken the lives of 200 innocent men, women and children in Hama, and dozens more in Deir al-Zour. We are deeply concerned that the council has failed to take prompt or effective action to protect the victims of Syrian mass killings. We regret that the council waited during months of bloodshed, while more than 400 were killed, before it held a single meeting in April. Although Syria was eventually condemned at that meeting, there has been no meaningful follow-up action for the victims.The organizations are led by UN Watch [advocacy website], a UN watchdog group. None of the nations on the council has commented on the letter, but several have supported Syria in the UN. China, Russia and Cuba defended Syria at the last council meeting, and the recent condemnation [JURIST report] by the UN Security Council [official website] was only a reprimand because of Brazil, India and South Africa blocking a stronger measure. Also on Tuesday, it was reported that an unknown Western country is funding [JURIST report] an International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] investigation into Syria's recent human rights abuses.
There has been a major struggle to put an end to Syrian violence since the protests began earlier this year. Last week, a group of UN human rights experts condemned the Syrian government [JURIST report] and called for a cessation of the continued use of lethal violence to suppress peaceful protests. The UN expressed concern [press release; JURIST report] over violence in Syria several times before that and urged the Syrian government to stop using force against protesters. In April, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] ended [JURIST report] the country's 48-year-old state of emergency, but protests have continued. Over one thousand people have been killed and 10,000 displaced since protests erupted in February.