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Restoring Relations With the Syrian Regime That Continues to Commit Crimes Against Humanity Against the Syrian People is a Violation of International Law and the Rights of Millions of Victims

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The Syrian Regime is Still Forcibly Disappearing and Torturing 96,000 Syrian Citizens, 201,000 Civilians, including Approximately 23,000 Children, Have been Killed by the Syrian Regime With No Accountability

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Press Release:

The Hague – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) said in a statement released today that restoring relations with the Syrian regime that continues to commit crimes against humanity against the Syrian people is a violation of international law and the rights of millions of victims, noting that at least 96,000 of the Syrian citizens arrested by the regime since 2011 are still forcibly disappeared and subjected to torture like all regime prisoners, while 201,000 civilians, including approximately 23,000 children, have been killed by the regime to date, with no accountability for any of these crimes.
The statement stresses that the Syrian regime has failed to uphold any of the provisions of the two Arab leagues initiatives in 2011 and 2012, adding that this will not change in 2023. The statement further stresses that the regime is still committing horrific violations against the Syrian people, reminding the world that the regime chose to respond with ruthless violence to the people’s popular uprising ever since it began in March 2011, with regime forces firing live bullets at the peaceful protesters and carrying out mass arbitrary arrests. The regime’s violence then rapidly escalated to the point that some of the crimes committed by its forces constitute crimes against humanity. The statement also outlines the initiatives put forward by the Arab League, noting that the Arab League’s first initiative in early-September 2011 contained many positive points, with the League working to establish mechanisms to actualize it. However, the Syrian regime took no heed of any of those provisions and continued with its killings and arrests.
The statement further recalls thaton November 12, 2011, the Council of the Arab League decided to suspend Syria from the Arab League. The resolution adopted at the time provided that Arab League member states state should recall their ambassadors from Syria, while imposing political and economic sanctions on the Syrian regime’s government. This was followed by a second Arab League initiative on January 22, 2012, which called for support from the UN Security Council. In response, nonetheless, for a second time, the Syrian regime ignored all the Arab League’s provisions and issued patently false promises as its security and military forces continued to perpetrate increasing numbers of violations, with the Arab observer mission failing to prevent any of these. As the statement further notes, the Syrian regime killed 13,923 civilians and arrested/forcibly disappeared 23,526 others between March 2011 and February 12, 2012, the date on which Mohammed al-Dabi tendered his resignation as head of the Arab League’s Arab observer mission.
The statement stresses that the Syrian regime continues to commit various types of violations to this day; these include the enforced disappearance of approximately 96,000 Syrian citizens since March 2011, the killing of at least 201,000 civilians in the same period, including approximately 23,000 children, with nearly 15,000 victims dying under torture, in addition to many other violations, including indiscriminate bombardment, especially using barrel bombs and chemical weapons. All of these violations by the regime have resulted in the displacement of nearly seven million refugees, none of whom will show the slightest willingness to return as long as the same regime that has been displacing them since 2011 remains in power with no political transition.
In light of the above, the statement concludes, it is clear that the same reasons that led to the Syrian regime being kicked out of the Arab League, boycotted by democratic countries, and sanctioned and isolated at the international level, which have been present since 2011, remain unchanged. Even worse, these reasons have only grown in magnitude and severity since 2011, leading to many more catastrophes and victims.
The statement stresses that the attempts by some Arab states, or any other states for that matter, to reestablish any form of relations with the Syrian regime are grievously insulting, first and foremost to those states deciding to take such action, sending the wrong message to their own peoples, that they support a regime that has committed crimes against humanity and choose to side with said regime atop the backs and skulls of its millions of victims. Furthermore, restoring relations with the Syrian regime encourages the regime’s own impunity, and that of other similar authoritarian regimes, and is an unconscionable and monstrous insult to its millions of victims. Therefore, any such restoration of relations constitutes an expression of support for all the Syrian regime’s previous and continuing violations against the Syrian people; this is particularly shocking since opposing such horrific violations which are classified as crimes against humanity and war crimes is, under international law, a core part of the responsibilities of all the world’s states as ratifiers of the Geneva Convention.
The statement calls on those states wishing or feeling the need to restore relations with the Syrian regime to demand that the regime immediately releases nearly 136,000 political prisoners, including 96,000 forcibly disappeared persons, disbands all extraordinary courts and repeals all of their rulings, returns all lands and properties pillaged to their rightful owners, and holds the perpetrators of violations against the Syrian people accountable.

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