bashar assad 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ten year’s in power have been marked by repression and breaches of human rights, NGO Human Rights Watch said in a report released Friday.
According to the 35-page report, Assad has failed to deliver on his promises to increase public freedoms and improve his government's human rights record in the past decade. It accused him of repressing political and human rights activism, restricting freedom of expression, using torture and badly treating Kurds.
During his inauguration on July 17, 2000, Assad spoke of a need for
"creative thinking," "transparency," and "democracy." But the report
said such a period of tolerance was short-lived. Syrian criminal courts
have sentenced lawyers to jail for criticizing Syria's human rights
record. Syrian security agencies detain people without arrest warrants
and torture with impunity. Censorship is prevalent and extends to
popular websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Blogger. The Kurdish
minority, at about 10 percent of the population, is denied basic group
rights, including the right to learn Kurdish in schools or celebrate
Kurdish festivals, and hundreds of thousands of them do not possess
"Whether [Assad] wanted to be a reformer but was hampered by an
entrenched old guard or has been just another Arab ruler unwilling to
listen to criticism, the outcome for Syria's people is the same: No
freedom, no rights," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at
Human Rights Watch. "He has done virtually nothing to improve his
country's human rights record."
According to Human Rights Watch, Assad has justified the lack of
political reforms either by arguing that his priority is economic reform
or by contending that regional circumstances have interfered with his
reform agenda. But it noted that a review of Syria's record showed a
consistent policy of repressing dissent regardless of international or
regional pressures on Syria.