Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Syria hits back in human rights row

Close to 3,000 people are believed to have been killed in protests against President Bashar Assad's regime (AP)
Close to 3,000 people are believed to have been killed in protests against President Bashar Assad's regime (AP)

Syria's deputy foreign minister has hit back at critics of the country's human rights record saying it is under attack from criminals who have killed 1,100 citizens with arms supplied by neighbouring countries.

Faisal Mekdad was addressing the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

He said President Bashar Assad's regime is "the target of terrorist threats," and is undermined by reports from Western journalists.

The UN's top human rights body is examining Syria's record, part of its mandatory review of all member nations.

"There is nothing that we seek to hide or are ashamed of," Mr Mekdad said.

"The culture of human rights is a disease. We have to take into consideration that the conduct of some of those developed countries is not honourable in the area of human rights."

The UN human rights office estimates that President Assad's crackdown against protesters seeking change has claimed more than 2,900 lives.

A final report on Syria's record is to be adopted by the Human Rights Council next week. Russia, China, Venezuela and Zimbabwe provided strong backing for Syria, saying it must be protected against foreign interference.

In August, the Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly to demand Syria end its bloody crackdown and co-operate with an international probe into possible crimes against humanity. That included the support of all four Arab voting members of the council.

But Russia and China voted against it, and the nations vetoed a resolution on Tuesday in the UN Security Council in New York threatening sanctions if the crackdown does not end.

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