Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to thank Under-Secretary-General Pascoe for his briefing on the deteriorating situation in Syria.
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the abhorrent violence used by the government of Syria against its own people. My government calls on President Assad to change course now and heed the calls of his own people. We also call upon the international community to respond to this brutal crackdown, and to hold accountable those who are perpetrating these gross human rights violations. The United States has expressed its position to the Syrian government, and we are considering a range of options, including targeted sanctions, to respond to the outrageous and ongoing use of violence against peaceful protesters.
We are particularly concerned about continued reports of gratuitous violence against unarmed demonstrators. I am pleased to note that the Human Rights Council decided this morning to hold a special session on the situation of human rights in Syria on Friday. The United States, as one of the many supporters of this decision, believes the event to be an important and timely response given the horrific actions taking place. These brutal acts are neither those of a responsible government nor a credible member of the international community.
Syrian government actions up until now have not been serious responses to the demands of its people – instead, the Syrian government’s violent repression of peaceful protesters is continuing. Casting blame on outsiders instead of addressing its own internal failures is no way for a government to respond to legitimate calls for reform from its people.
Syrian security and military forces continue to attack civilian protestors, while the government continues to seek Iranian assistance in repressing Syria’s citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by the Iranian regime. The Syrian government must stop the arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture of civilians, especially journalists and activists. We call on the Syrian government to allow the media, including foreign journalists, as well as human rights monitors to verify events independently on the ground, which include reports of indiscriminate attacks on populated areas by Syrian forces.
The Syrian government must acknowledge its people’s legitimate calls for substantial and lasting reform. Words must be backed by actions to ensure real reform in Syria. The Syrian people’s cries for freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and the ability to freely choose their leaders must be heeded.
Thank you, Mr. President.