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Syrians decry 'torture' of teenage protester
Video emerges appearing to show body of Syrian boy killed in crackdown, as Russia rejects Security Council resolution.
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2011 09:24

 

Video footage has emerged showing the body of a Syrian boy reportedly tortured to death after his arrest in April following a government crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the country.

The video, provided to Al Jazeera by sources inside Syria, shows the mutilated body of 15-year-old Thamer al-Sahri, who was arrested for participating in an anti-government demonstration.

Hundreds of residents of the Syrian town of Jeeza filled the streets to mourn his death on Wednesday, the day his body was released from the mortuary and returned to his parents, six weeks after he went missing.

The amateur video shows al-Sahri's body riddled with bullets, missing an eye, several teeth, and according to Al Jazeera's source, returned to his family with a broken neck and leg.

Al Jazeera is unable to independently verify the footage due to restrictions on journalists in the country.

Al-Sahri was arrested along with his friend, 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb - the teenager whose brutal death caused much of the world to pay closer attention to the events in Syria. Al-Khateeb's body was also mutilated.

The Syrian government has denied using torture against protesters, but the latest video could lead to renewed demonstrations in the country against alleged excesses by the Syrian security forces.

UN weighs resolution

The footage emerged as Russia rejected a possible UN Security Council resolution condemning the violence in Syria, saying that the situation in the country does not present a threat to international stability.

"Russia is against any UN Security Council resolution on Syria," Alexander Lukashevich, a foreign ministry spokesman, told journalists at a briefing in Moscow on Thursday.

"We do not believe the Syrian issue is a subject for consideration by the Security Council, let alone the adoption of some kind of resolution. [...] The situation in this country, in our view, does not present a threat to international peace and security."

 

On Wednesday, Britain, France, Germany and Portugal floated a draft resolution condemning Syria at the Security Council as the US and its allies seek to raise the pressure on Syria to end its violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Mark Lyall Grant, the British UN envoy, said the resolution could be put to the vote in the coming days at the UN despite the threat of a Russian veto.

"We would like a vote as soon as possible, before the end of the week," Grant, said. 

The proposal falls short of calling for military action or further UN sanctions against the Syrian government.

Russia and China, which both hold vetoes, have made clear they dislike the idea of council involvement, which they say could help to destabilise a strategic Middle Eastern country.

Moscow has long been an ally and arms supplier of Syria. Russia, citing NATO's inconclusive bombing of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, said it would veto intervention against Syria in the Security Council.

Fleeing the unrest

Meanwhile, the number of Syrians who have fled to Turkey fearing bloodshed in their country has increased by some 400 to more than 2,400, Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister said on Thursday.

The total number of refugees was nearly 1,900 earlier on Thursday, according to Anatolia news agency.

 

The arrivals have sharply increased since the beginning of the week, with most refugees fleeing the flashpoint town of Jisr al-Shughur, some 40km from the Turkish border, where tensions have flared amid Damascus' accusations that protesters killed 120 policemen.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, has said his country will not close its doors to refugees fleeing the unrest in Syria.

Speaking on Wednesday, Erdogan said: "At this point it is out of the question for Turkey to close its doors to refugees coming from Syria. The recent developments are really unfortunate.

"We are monitoring developments with concern as we have very different information and it raises our concerns."

Erdogan's plea

Erdogan called on Syria to show more tolerance towards its citizens after the latest clashes in the northwest.

"We hope Syria will be more tolerant towards civilians and implement persuasive reforms so the transitional process can be effective," he said.

A foreign ministry official said about 420 people have crossed the border from Syria since the bloody protests started in March.

Turkey has built strong ties with Syria in recent years and has been exerting growing pressure on al-Assad, with Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, calling on him to introduce "shock-therapy" reforms to end the trouble.

Activists say about 1,100 people have been killed in Syria since anti-government protests began in March.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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