Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Syria protests crackdown condemned

Protesters demonstrate against Syrian President Bashar Assad in front of the Syrian embassy in Cairo, Egypt (AP)

Britain and France have increased the pressure on strife-torn Syria by presenting a revised resolution to the United Nations condemning its deadly crackdown on protesters.

The country is in uprising with people taking to the streets to demand more freedom and political reform as part of the Arab Spring - which has seen revolts in Tunisia and Egypt this year and civil war in Libya.

The Anglo-French move, backed by Germany and Portugal, demands an immediate end to the violence, condemns human rights abuses and calls on Syria to allow immediate access to international human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies and workers.

It also calls for President Bashar Assad's country to implement political reforms allowing "genuine political participation", and the release of all political prisoners.

Syria is also called upon to lift media restrictions with all other nations urged to prevent its supply of arms.

The resolution needs nine votes to be adopted by the 15-member council, and no veto by a permanent member - the US, Russia, China, Britain and France. Russia will not support the resolution and it is not known how countries such as China, India and Lebanon, Brazil and South Africa will vote.

Hours before the resolution was presented in New York, David Cameron told the House of Commons: "If anyone votes against that resolution or tries to veto it, that should be on their conscience."

Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin reiterated that Moscow would not support the resolution on the grounds that it would not promote dialogue and help put an end to the violence.

"We are concerned it would have the opposite effect," Churkin said. While Russia does not support the draft, Churkin declined to say whether they planned to veto it.

Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said he hopes for a vote in the coming days.

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