UN rights panel condemns Syria for crackdown

General Assembly's Human Rights Committee votes 122 in favour of resolution, with China and Russia abstaining.

    The UN General Assembly's Human Rights Committee has condemned Syria for its eight-month crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in a vote backed by Western nations and a number of Arab states.

    Tuesday's resolution, drafted by Britain, France and Germany, received 122 votes in favour, 13 against and 41 abstentions.

    Arab states that voted for it included co-sponsors Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, as well as Egypt.

    Russia and China, which vetoed a European-drafted resolution that would have condemned Syria in the UN Security Council last month, abstained.

    Bashar Jaafari, Syrian UN ambassador, said the resolution had no meaning for his country and portrayed it as a US-inspired political move.

    "Despite the fact that the draft resolution was basically presented by three European states, however it is no secret that the United States of America is ... the main mind behind the political campaign against my country," he said.

    "This draft resolution has no relevance to human rights, other than it is part of an adversarial American policy against my country."

    Jaafari displayed for delegates what he said were documents containing the "names of terrorists arrested while smuggling arms through the borders of Syria".

    He said the documents offered clear proof of a US-led plot to topple the government of Bashar al-Assad.

    'Just leave'

    Separately on Tuesday, Turkey's prime minister repeated his call for President Assad to step down amid reports that 16 people, including four children, were killed.

    "For the welfare of your own people and the region, just leave that seat," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a televised speech.

    He reminded Assad of the bloody end of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and those of past leaders, including Adolf Hitler.

    "If you want to see someone who has fought until death against his own people, just look at Nazi Germany, just look at Hitler, at Mussolini, at Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania," he said.

    "If you cannot draw any lessons from these, then look at the Libyan leader who was killed just 32 days ago."

    The military crackdown in Syria has killed nearly 4,000 people, according to several estimates.

    Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from Amman in neighbouring Jordan, said that there were reports of a heavy military presence in the province of Homs on Tuesday.

    The Syrian military is using tanks to shell residential areas and firing on people in the street, she said. Violence was also reported in Hama, while police reportedly rounded up people in a series of mass arrests in the southern city of Deraa.

    The Local Co-ordination Committees, a prominent activist network, and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said four children, between the ages of 10 and 15, were killed by bullets fired at random from a military checkpoint near the town of Houla, in Homs.

    A fifth person was killed by security forces in the district of Khaldieh, the groups said.

    The LCC said Syrian forces backed by tanks and armoured vehicles stormed the area of Houla and were besieging the district of Bayada in Homs.

    Syria places severe restrictions on the work of journalists and bans most foreign journalists from the country, making confirmation of events on the ground difficult.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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