(Washington, DC) – As Syrian army tanks and troops surround the northern city of Jisr al-Shughour, and the government’s brutal attacks on demonstrators continue, the Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition today called on the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the ongoing violence against Syria’s population and hold perpetrators accountable. According to human rights organizations, at least 1,100 civilians have been killed since the initial repression began. The government has also arrested at least 10,000 citizens, many of whom have been tortured while in custody.

Mark Hanis, co-founder of Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition issued the following statement:

“The world has watched with increasing revulsion as Bashar al-Assad’s regime continues to employ brutal tactics to suppress anti-government demonstrations.  The Syrian government’s actions show that it has abdicated its responsibility to protect its population.  The United Nations Security Council must act quickly and unequivocally to condemn Syria’s actions and hold its leaders accountable, making clear that violence against civilians is intolerable.”

“Specifically, the UN Security Council should demand the Syrian government’s cooperation with the Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission to the country; impose targeted sanctions on perpetrators; and consider referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.

“Assad’s security forces have repeatedly used heavy artillery, tanks and snipers to target civilians — tactics that the United Nations Special Advisers on the Responsibility to Protect and the Prevention of Genocide have called unacceptable under any circumstances.  In addition to the widespread military attacks on civilians, there are credible reports of severe torture and murder, including widely circulated videos of teenagers killed in government custody.  This odious targeting of civilians violates the Syrian government’s primary responsibility to protect its population, a responsibility that the Assad regime has rejected in its attempts to cling to power.”

Background: Since mid-March, the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad has violently suppressed pro-reform demonstrations across the country.  Regime security forces have deployed heavy weapons in major cities across Syria, including Deraa, Hama, and Homs.  According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), at least 1,100 Syrian citizens have been killed and more than 10,000 are in government custody.

Nearly 41,000 residents of the northern city of Jisr al-Shughour have fled as Syrian army tanks move in after the reported death of 120 security force members under ambiguous circumstances.  Due to a widespread information blackout, information from the city is difficult to obtain.  According to Syrian government sources, security forces in Jisr al-Shughour were attacked by local gunmen.  However, reports from residents and Syrian army defectors suggest that the security forces had refused to fire upon civilian residents of Jisr al-Shughour.  Turkish officials say that roughly 3,000 people have fled across the border into Turkey.

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The Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network merged on November 1, 2010 to create a more powerful voice dedicated to preventing and stopping large-scale, deliberate atrocities against civilians. The organization remains committed to its work to end the crisis in Darfur and bring peace to all of Sudan as well as to end violence in other areas of mass atrocities such as Congo and Burma.  The merger creates the world’s largest anti-genocide organization, with a membership base of hundreds of thousands of committed activists globally, an unparalleled nationwide student movement, more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human rights partner organizations, and a network of institutional investors collectively representing more than $2 trillion in assets under management.

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