United Nations Human Rights Council: 18th Session

United Nations Human Rights Council:  18th Session
Oral Intervention- Interactive Dialogue:  High Commissioner Report on Syria
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
19 September, 2011

Delivered by:  Mr. Haithem Maleh


Thank you Madame President,

My name is Haithem Maleh.  I am a Syrian lawyer who has worked for the realization of human rights in my country for decades.  I have been imprisoned for my work numerous times.  Most recently for a period of three years until I was released seven months ago.  I know firsthand the brutality the current Syrian government is capable of, and I know the difference the voice of the international community can make.  It is in part due to the efforts of governments around the world who took up my case that I am alive and able to speak to you today. 


As confirmed by the report before us, millions of Syrian people now find themselves unwilling prisoners, surrounded by tanks and snipers and machine guns and crying out for freedom.   Today I ask you as a citizen, as a father and as a friend, how many innocent women, children and men  must be murdered in the streets, how many  tortured and mutilated, before we decide words are not enough?   Let there be no doubt, the current government has neither the ability nor the will to provide justice to the Syrian people. 


Several weeks ago the High Commissioner delivered the report before us to the Security Council and requested it to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, a request that was ignored.   Today I urgently ask those states who failed to fully support this request to reconsider.  When will my sisters and brothers from Brazil, India, China, Russia and elsewhere acknowledge what is already painfully clear? 


The Syrian people will not forget, and history will not forgive those who stand by and allow the atrocities, the Crimes Against Humanity being carried out in my country to continue with impunity.   A war is being waged against innocent civilians for nothing more than speaking out as I have today. 

Don’t let those who have died and suffered have done so in vain.  The time for words is over- it is time to act.


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