Make Human Rights a Priority for New Syrian Leadership

syrian rebels

Target: Leaders of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces

Goal: Ensure that Syrian opposition leaders use their new influence and authority to enforce a human rights agenda

With the newly signed agreement uniting Syrian opposition factions as the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (the National Coalition), Syrian leaders have the opportunity to show the international community that human rights will be protected in a National Coalition-led Syria. The recent release of a video depicting armed gunmen of the opposition forces executing prisoners displays clear infractions of international human rights law. The National Coalition leaders must address these concerns, holding those responsible for these crimes accountable and sending a clear message that human rights violations will not be tolerated. Call upon the National Coalition to prove to the world that human rights are a priority.

Over a dozen extrajudicial and summary executions of prisoners by opposition forces have been documented during the Syrian civil war. Instances of torture and mistreatment of prisoners have been found as well in those detention facilities under opposition control. The torture or summary execution of a prisoner during an armed conflict is considered by international law to be a war crime. The torture or execution of civilians, if widespread, can constitute a crime against humanity. With the November 1, 2012 release of footage documenting opposition forces carrying out mass summary killings of prisoners, it is clear that, far from being a thing of the past, human rights violations are a current plague that the National Coalition needs to address.

The Qatari prime minister and the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council have recognized the National Coalition as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The European Union and the League of Arab States are in talks over how best to support the National Coalition. As the National Coalition wins over support from the international community, it is essential that foreign nations remind the Syrian people of their responsibility to human rights. With the likelihood that the current Syrian government’s power is at an end, it is essential that the National Coalition break with the bloodstained past of human rights violations and turn the page for a more just future.

Call upon the National Coalition to end all human rights violations, hold accountable those responsible, and ensure protection of these rights in the future.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear National Coalition Leaders,

With the formation of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and the growing support of world leaders, Syria has the opportunity to put aside a past of torture, executions, and arbitrary detentions and begin a present that upholds the importance of human rights. I call upon your new coalition to prioritize the protection of human rights and hold those individuals who have violated them in the past accountable.

Recent evidence has shown the carrying out of mass summary executions of prisoners by opposition forces, as well as the use of torture at opposition-held detention facilities. In both cases, these are considered war crimes under international law; if civilians were harmed, there is a possibility that these are crimes against humanity.

For too long have Syrians had to live under a repressive, violent regime. I ask that you break with these methods, punish the perpetrators appropriately, and show to the world that this new Syria will not stand for human rights violations.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: FreedomHouse via Flickr

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  • Eric von Borstel
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