'Syria committing crimes against humanity in Homs'

Human Rights Watch urges Arab League to oust Syria, asks UN Security Council to impose sanctions, refer Syrian leaders to Int'l Criminal Court.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
November 11, 2011 09:52
2 minute read.
Syrian President Bashar Assad with army generals

Syrian President Bashar Assad with his army generals 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

BEIRUT - Syrian government forces have carried out crimes against humanity as they try to crush opposition to President Bashar Assad in the restive province of Homs, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Friday.

It urged Arab League delegates meeting on Saturday to suspend Syria from their organization, ask the United Nations to impose sanctions on individuals responsible, and refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.

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"The systematic nature of abuses against civilians in Homs by Syrian government forces, including torture and unlawful killings, constitute crimes against humanity," the group said in a statement accompanying the report.

The report also said that the "Homs Governorate [has] subjected thousands of people to arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and systematic torture in detention."

One torture victim told HRW of the arbitrary torture he underwent during his detention and a Syrian Intelligence base.

"They beat with cables and then hanged me by my hands from a pipe under the ceiling so that my feet weren’t touching the floor. I was hanging there for about six hours, although it was hard to tell the time. They were beating me, and pouring water on me, and then using electric tasers," he said.

HRW said Syrian security forces had killed at least 104 people in Homs since Nov. 2, when the Syrian government agreed an Arab League plan aimed at ending the violence and starting a dialogue with Assad's opponents.

Those deaths followed the killings of at least 587 civilians in Homs between April and August, the group said, the highest death toll of any single governorate in the country.

"Homs is a microcosm of the Syrian government's brutality," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The Arab League needs to tell President Assad that violating their agreement has consequences, and that it now supports (UN) Security Council action to end the carnage".

The United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed in Assad's crackdown on protests which erupted in mid-March, inspired by popular Arab uprisings which have toppled three North African leaders. Authorities blame armed groups for the violence, saying they have killed 1,100 soldiers and police.


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