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UN, Arab League denounce Syria violence

The UN and the League of Arab States [official website, in Arabic] on Saturday released statements condemning violence in Syria after an estimated 40 people were killed in protest-related encounters this week. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon [official website] issued a statement [text] saying "the calls of the Syrian people for change must be answered with far-reaching reforms, not repression and violence." Ban also urged the Syrian government to end military operations against civilians and release political prisoners and detained protesters. The League of Arab States similarly condemned the killings [LAT report] of civilian protesters in Syria. The violence has erupted most recently in the Syrian cities of Homs and Hama.

Earlier this month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged [statement] the international community to take steps to protect civilian lives in Syria [JURIST report], where more than 3,000 civilians have been killed since protests against the government began. This statement followed a report from a UN commission urging [statement] Syrian authorities to allow human rights experts to conduct an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations of human rights violations. In August, Pillay called on the UN Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official websites] to investigate the violent suppression of anti-government protests [JURIST report]. Pillay's remarks came after the Fact-finding Mission in Syria published its 22-page report concluding that Syrian government forces cracking down on the opposition may be committing crimes against humanity [JURIST report]. The Fact-finding Mission was established [JURIST report] by the UN Human Rights Council [official website] in April but was not permitted to enter the country.

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