[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] published an open letter [text] on Tuesday to leaders of a movement opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [JURIST news archive], alleging that members of the opposition movement have tortured, kidnapped and executed supporters of the Assad government. In the letter, HRW urged members of the opposition not to commit the same human rights violations that Assad’s forces have committed:
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly documented and condemned widespread violations by Syrian government security forces and officials, including disappearances, use of torture and forced televised confessions, arbitrary detentions, indiscriminate shelling of neighborhoods, and deaths in custody under torture. Now, in the face of evidence of human rights abuses by armed opposition members, Human Rights Watch calls on the leadership of leading opposition groups including the Syrian National Council (SNC) and its Military Bureau to condemn such practices by the armed opposition and to work to prevent such unlawful practices.
Leaders of Syrian opposition groups have not yet responded to HRW’s letter.
Human rights groups have closely scrutinized the situation in Syria since the government began its crackdown against protesters last year. Last week, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] asserted that the Syrian government has systematically tortured its citizens [JURIST report]. Earlier last week, a UN expert on Syria declared that the human rights situation in Syria is worsening [JURIST report]. Earlier in March the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] passed a resolution [JURIST report] denouncing Syrian officials’ crackdown on human rights. The resolution came on the heels of a demand for a cease-fire [JURIST report] by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] in late February. Earlier in February, the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria accused the government of violating international human rights law [JURIST report] after finding that Syrian forces are engaging in torture and killings under orders from high level government officials.