Over 140 representatives of Arab civil society organisations working in the Arab world demand LAS action on Syria
A coalition of 142 Arab organisations working in nineteen countries across the Arab world has demanded that the League of Arab States recognize the flaws that have severely undermined the efficacy of the Arab observers mission, to publicly release the monitoring mission’s report, to withdraw the monitoring mission given the Syrian regime’s failure to implement the terms of the Arab League protocol and to call for the UN Security Council to take action to address the violence.
With over 400 civilians killed by Syrian security forces in the first three weeks of the Arab mission according to documented UN figures, the coalition has written to the League of Arab States in view of its upcoming meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of January 21, urging them to send a strong message to the Syrian Government and to the UN. The request from leading Arab human rights organizations follows a continuous and blatant violation of the Arab road map. The latter requires that Syria immediately stops the violence and killings against peaceful protesters, withdraws its military from cities and residential areas, release all political detainees related to the uprising and grant full access to all parts of Syria by both International and Arab media as well as Arab organizations.
However, the signatories have expressed serious concerns about the Arab observers mission.
“The monitoring mission lacks basic transparency and credibility, the mission is under the authority of Sudan's ex-Military Intelligence Director who was Sudan's President's Darfur adviser during the genocide, no observers have been able to do their job: instead, the mission legitimizes the Syrian regime” summarized Dr. Radwan Ziadeh, President of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, a member of the coalition.
Syrian human rights lawyer Haitham El-Maleh asserted that, “faced with a permanent interference of Syrian authorities in the daily work of Arab observers, controlling all their movements and preventing them from visiting military areas where thousands of detainees have been transferred, we have not seen the minimum guarantees of independence and credibility for this observers mission to even try to do its job”.
The coalition, including numerous Syrian, Egyptian, Algerian and Sudanese human rights organisations, along with national coalitions from Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen, Iraq and other Arab countries, urge the League not to wait longer for the crisis in Syria to grow uncontrolled as the systemic, brutal use of force on unarmed protesters puts this central Arab country on the brink of a devastating civil war. As of December 12 the UN had over 5,000 documented deaths by Syria’s security forces, including at least 300 children.
Arab League observer Anouar Malek, who resigned from the mission in protest over its credibility and aims, voiced his support for the calls of the coalition:
"I was threatened with death for doing my job as I watched people being killed, beaten up and arrested by police, soldiers and militiamen. The Syrian regime is plainly defying the Arab League. I join the coalition's call for an end to the mission and immediate action by the UN Security Council."
The 142 Arab organizations call on the Arab League Ministers of Foreign Affairs to address the situation by taking the following measures:
Publicly releasing the monitoring mission’s report
Recognizing flaws that have profoundly undermined the work of the monitoring mission.
Withdrawing the mission and calling for the Security Council to take action to address the ongoing violence in light of the Syrian government’s failure to implement the terms of the Arab League protocol and the Arab roadmap.
Reiterating a clear call for the immediate cessation of the use of force by Syrian security forces against the civilian population and ensuring that the perpetrators of unlawful killings are held accountable.
“We are approaching a one year of bloodshed and immunity for the Syrian regime of crimes it has allegedly committed. Syrians continue to fall everyday because of their choice to stand bravely to defend their rights to democracy and civil liberties. The unwillingness to cooperate with the Arab League demonstrates the necessity to transfer this portfolio to the Security Council to ensure the accountability of the regime for its acts." said Ziad Abdel Tawab, Deputy Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.