World leaders condemned the violence in Syria today and demanded President Assad step down.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Announces New Sanctions Against Syria
A clear widespread or systematic policy appears to have been in place whereby security forces targeted people suspected of having taken part in demonstrations, with a view to intimidating and terrorizing them as a way of quelling rotests.
Torture and illtreatment were commonly used to obtain false statements from detainees. Many reports spoke of security forces breaking into people’s homes and beating civilians, including women and children. After mass arrests, security forces and Shabbiha elements transported those detained in buses and trucks to secret detention centres or public stadia, where the victims were then inhumanely treated or tortured.
Former detainees cited cases of deaths in custody as a result of torture. Others referred to the torture of children.
Security agents often forced family members of the deceased to sign a document stating that the person was killed by armed gangs.
The United States has been inspired by the Syrian peoples’ pursuit of a peaceful transition to democracy. They have braved ferocious brutality at the hands of their government. They have spoken with their peaceful marches, their silent shaming of the Syrian regime, and their courageous persistence in the face of brutality – day after day, week after week. The Syrian government has responded with a sustained onslaught. I strongly condemn this brutality, including the disgraceful attacks on Syrian civilians in cities like Hama and Deir al Zour, and the arrests of opposition figures who have been denied justice and subjected to torture at the hands of the regime. These violations of the universal rights of the Syrian people have revealed to Syria, the region, and the world the Assad government’s flagrant disrespect for the dignity of the Syrian people.
The United States opposes the use of violence against peaceful protesters in Syria, and we support the universal rights of the Syrian people. We have imposed sanctions on President Assad and his government. The European Union has imposed sanctions as well. We helped lead an effort at the UN Security Council to condemn Syria’s actions. We have coordinated closely with allies and partners from the region and around the world. The Assad government has now been condemned by countries in all parts of the globe, and can look only to Iran for support for its brutal and unjust crackdown.
The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.
The United States cannot and will not impose this transition upon Syria. It is up to the Syrian people to choose their own leaders, and we have heard their strong desire that there not be foreign intervention in their movement. What the United States will support is an effort to bring about a Syria that is democratic, just, and inclusive for all Syrians. We will support this outcome by pressuring President Assad to get out of the way of this transition, and standing up for the universal rights of the Syrian people along with others in the international community.
As a part of that effort, my Administration is announcing unprecedented sanctions to deepen the financial isolation of the Assad regime and further disrupt its ability to finance a campaign of violence against the Syrian people. I have signed a new Executive Order requiring the immediate freeze of all assets of the Government of Syria subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transaction involving the Government of Syria. This E.O. also bans U.S. imports of Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products; prohibits U.S. persons from having any dealings in or related to Syria’s petroleum or petroleum products; and prohibits U.S. persons from operating or investing in Syria. We expect today’s actions to be amplified by others.
We recognize that it will take time for the Syrian people to achieve the justice they deserve. There will be more struggle and sacrifice. It is clear that President Assad believes that he can silence the voices of his people by resorting to the repressive tactics of the past. But he is wrong. As we have learned these last several months, sometimes the way things have been is not the way that they will be. It is time for the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, and we will continue to stand firmly on their side.
The Syrian authorities have ignored the urgent appeals made over recent days by the United Nations security council, by numerous States in the region, the Gulf co-operation council and by the secretaries-general of the League of Arab States and of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. They continue to cruelly and violently repress their people and flatly refuse to fulfil their legitimate aspirations. They have ignored the voices of the Syrian people and continuously misled them and the international community with empty promises.
France, Germany and the United Kingdom reiterate their utter condemnation of this bloody repression of peaceful and courageous demonstrators and the massive violations of human rights which President Assad and his authorities have been committing for months. We are actively supporting further strong EU sanctions against the regime of President Assad.
We urge the Syrian regime to stop all violence immediately, to release all prisoners of conscience and to allow free access to the United Nations for an independent assessment of the situation.
Our three countries believe that President Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people and who is responsible for the situation, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer claim to lead the country. We call on him to face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people and to step aside in the best interests of Syria and the unity of its people.
Violence in Syria must stop now. Like other Arab peoples during recent months, the Syrians demand that their rights to liberty, dignity and to choose freely their leaders be recognised. We will continue to work with the Syrian people, countries in the region and our international partners, with a central role for the United Nations, to support their demands and achieve a peaceful and democratic transition.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement that "the EU notes the complete loss of Bashar al-Assad's legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the necessity for him to step aside".
The UK prime minister David Cameron has issued a joint statement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling on Assad to step aside "in the best interests of Syria and the unity of its people".
Prime minister of Canada Stephan Harder has also released a statement condemning Assad:
“Canada reiterates its strong condemnation of the ongoing violent military assault by the Assad regime against the Syrian people. This campaign of terror must stop.
“The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power.
“I join with President Obama and other members of the international community in calling on President Assad to vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately. The Syrian people have a right to decide for themselves the next steps for Syria's future."