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Senate Resolution Aims to Undermine Syrian Regime, Urge Obama to Act

2:26 PM, May 12, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Whereas international organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have documented evidence that peaceful protestors detained by Syrian security forces are being subjected to torture—including with electro-shock devices, cables, sticks, and whips—and are being held in overcrowded cells, deprived of sleep, food, and water for days at a time;

Whereas international non-governmental organizations, including the International Committee on the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch, have reported that Syrian security forces have prevented injured protesters from accessing hospitals and have denied medical personnel and humanitarian relief organizations access to those in need of medical attention;

Whereas the Obama administration has accused the Iranian government of providing material support to assist the Syrian government in its efforts to suppress peaceful protestors, including through the transfer of equipment to help security forces crack down on protests and curtail and monitor protesters' use of the Internet, cell phones, and text-messaging;

Whereas the White House has repeatedly condemned the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown, including on May 6, 2011, when the White House spokesperson stated that Syria’s flagrant human rights abuses warrant a “strong international response” and that, unless they come to an end immediately, the United States, together with international partners, would “take additional steps to make clear our strong opposition to the Syrian government treatment of its people”;

Whereas the U.S. Department of State has repeatedly condemned the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown, including on May 6, 2011, when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the Syrian government’s continued use of force and intimidation against peaceful protestors and pledged to “hold to account senior Syrian officials and others responsible for the reprehensible human rights abuses”;

Whereas on April 29, 2011, President Obama issued an Executive Order authorizing targeted sanctions against individuals and organizations responsible for the human rights abuses in Syria;

Whereas the Obama Administration on April 29, 2011, designated three individuals pursuant to the Executive Order issued that same day: Mahir al-Assad, the brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and brigade commander in the Syrian Army’s 4th Armored Division; Atif Najib, the head of the Political Security Directorate (PSD) for Daraa Province during March 2011 and a cousin of Bashar al-Assad; and Ali Mamluk, director of Syria’s General Intelligence Directorate (GID);

Whereas on May 6, 2011, envoys of the European Union’s 27 nations agreed to impose sanctions on the Syrian government for the human rights abuses it is perpetrating, including asset freezes and visa bans on 13 members of the Syrian government and an arms embargo on the country;

Whereas on April 29, 2011 the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution S-16/1 which condemns the Syrian regime for its human rights abuses and establishes a mandate for an international inquiry led by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Syria “with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full accountability”;

Whereas the Syrian government, prior to March 2011, had a well-documented track record of human rights abuses against its own citizens and violations of international agreements and international law;

Whereas in February 1982, the Syrian army, under the orders of then-Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, killed at least 10,000 civilians in the city of Hama in an effort to quell an uprising there;

Whereas according to the United States Department of State's most recent Human Rights Country Report, published on April 8, 2011, the Syrian government commits unlawful killings against civilians; politically motivated arrests, detentions, and disappearances are ongoing; Syria’s judiciary system is not independent; torture and physical abuse are widespread in Syrian prisons where detainees lack access to food, proper clothing, and medical treatment; and the Assad regime has severely and systematically restricted basic freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion;

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