Monday 30 April 2012
Demonstrators Chanting for the Unity of Syrians in Derbasiya ciy, Hasake
21:19 Syrian forces on Monday shelled a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey, activists told Al-Arabiya television.
21:16 Syrian security forces killed 17 people on Monday, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
21:16 The US State Department on Monday renewed calls for the Syrian authorities to release human rights activist and journalist Mazen Darwish amid concerns for his safety.
20:54 Syrian security forces opened fire Monday to disperse an anti-regime protest in Damascus’ neighborhood of Al-Tadamon, activists told Al-Jazeera.
19:46 Syrian security forces killed 12 people Monday, most of whom were in Edleb, activists told Al-Jazeera television.
19:26 Activists said on Monday that the Syrian army shelled Deir Baalba in Homs and injured a number of people, Al-Jazeera reported.
16:19 Syrian anti-regime activist Yara Shammas, who faces the death penalty for “belonging to a secret organization,” was bailed on bail Monday pending trial, said the director of the Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Research.
15:42 Syrian forces on Monday opened fire on people participating in a funeral held in Damascus and raided the Edleb town of Ariha, Al-Jazeera television quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution as saying.
15:09 A third blast took place on Monday in Edleb, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying. More than 20 people were killed on Monday in blasts targeting security buildings in the northwestern city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier in the day.
13:29 Syrian forces on Monday shelled the Edleb town of Maarat an-Naaman, Al-Arabiya television station quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution as saying.
10:11 More than 20 people were killed on Monday in blasts targeting security buildings in the city of Edleb, northwest Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
10:03 A blast took place on Monday in front of a Syrian military branch in Edleb, causing the collapse of four buildings, Al-Arabiya television quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution as saying.
9:56 The Syrian Central Bank came under rocket propelled grenade attack overnight, state television reported on Monday, blaming an “armed terrorist group.”
8:30 MORNING LEADER: A veteran peacekeeper urged all sides to “stop the violence” as he flew in to Syria on Sunday to lead a UN observer force for a more than two-week-old ceasefire that has failed to stop bloodshed.
William Hague promises £1.5m to promote freedom of expression online
Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced an extra £1.5m of funding focused on “promoting freedom of expression online”.
It is part of a package of measures intended to “strengthen and develop” human rights around the world, he said.
Mr Hague was launching his department’s annual report on the British government’s human rights work in 2011.[...]
Foreign Secretary William Hague has launched Human Rights and Democracy: The 2011 Foreign & Commonwealth Report. The report is now available online.
The report is a comprehensive look at the human rights work of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) around the world in 2011. As with the 2010 report, it is hosted online at www.fco.gov.uk/hrdreport, where visitors can read, print, share and comment on the report as a whole or by section. The report highlights the UK’s human rights concerns in 28 key countries. The website will be updated every three months to highlight key human rights events and actions that take place in each of these featured countries of concern. The updates for the first three months of 2011 have also been published online today.
To launch the report, the Foreign Secretary made a keynote speech to an audience of parliamentarians, NGOs, local ambassadors, civil society and the media. Read the Foreign Secretary’s speech in full. He said:
“I have today laid before the House a copy of the 2011 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Report on Human Rights and Democracy.
“The report comprehensively assesses developments in human rights in 2011 and provides information about some important developments in early 2012. It sets out what the Government is doing through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to promote human rights and democratic values around the world, in three principal areas: it documents the serious concerns we have about a range of countries where we are seeking to influence the human rights situation; it assesses progress on thematic issues that cut across geographic boundaries; and it reports on areas where we believe we have seen positive developments over the last year. We have made some significant changes to the format of the Report itself this year, including the introduction of case studies.
“I am determined that we will continue to strengthen and develop the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s work on human rights. With this in mind, I have decided to allocate an additional £1.5m in 2012 to our human rights programme work, which will be focused in particular on projects to promote freedom of expression online and the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
“I have also decided to introduce changes to make the Foreign Office’s human rights reporting even more responsive to rapidly changing situations. An annual report can only look backwards, yet in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office we monitor and respond to change as it happens and our reporting needs to reflect this. It is sometimes the case that a country not regarded as a ‘country of concern’ at the beginning of the reporting period may experience important human rights developments.
“Over the current reporting period, and for the first time, we will make quarterly decisions on whether systematic reporting on developments in other countries, not listed in the 2011 Report as Countries of Concern, is required.
“This more flexible quarterly reporting will strengthen the assessments we make about which countries should be added to or removed from the list of Countries of Concern in the 2012 Annual report.”
Guest speakers at the event included Human Rights Watch researcher Heba Morayef and Kate Allen, Head of Amnesty International. The report is now available at www.fco.gov.uk/hrdreport, replacing the previous report for 2010.
It is a sobering fact that I speak today against the backdrop of continued violence and inhumanity being committed against the people of Syria by a regime determined to cling to power and convinced it can do so by crushing opposition. It is utterly mistaken in that view and I am convinced that the Assad regime is doomed over the longer term.We have not yet succeeded in stemming the violence and securing the political transition that the people of Syria need, and the Syrian regime continues to fail fully to implement the ceasefire agreement and two UN Security Council Resolutions. If this continues we will need to discuss what steps to take to respond to this unacceptable situation, and in the meantime we will step up efforts to deploy a full team of UN monitors on the ground. We call again on all parties in Syria to adhere to the Annan plan.But despite this, in my view 2011 will stand out as a positive year for human rights and democracy.It will stand out because of the remarkable power of the courage of the people of Syria and of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, whose actions have shone an intense spotlight on the need for greater political and economic freedom across the Middle East and North Africa.They helped to spur positive reform in countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and to a certain extent in Bahrain, by showing that Governments must address legitimate aspirations for economic development and political participation to build stability over the long term. This is the message that we echo in our discussions with all countries in the region, without a single exception.
And they sent a chill down the spine of undemocratic regimes far beyond the Middle East, by showing that human rights cannot be indefinitely suppressed anywhere.
2011 will also be remembered for the successful NATO intervention to save lives in Libya, when we worked in an unprecedented way with a broad coalition of states from the region.[...] I pay tribute to the years of campaigning by brave human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders and NGOs which contributed to these changes; from the political prisoners of Burma to the people in Syria today who are taking their lives into their hands to smuggle food and medical supplies across check points to the activists who so desperately need it.But at the same time as welcoming these positive changes, we must recognise the scale of the challenge which still lies ahead.The real test of the success of the revolutions in the Middle East or the change in Burma will be what happens in court rooms, in parliaments, in police stations, in schools and at the ballot box in those countries in the coming months: those will be the moments when we see whether human rights and democratic principles are being respected or not.[...]