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Syrians “Have No Faith” in International Community to Solve Human Rights Crisis

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 4 2015 (IPS) - Syrian citizens “have no faith” in the international community to solve the chaos and war raging across their country, according to a prominent human rights defender.

Yara Bader, Managing Director of the Syrian Center For Media and Freedom of Expression, made the claim at United Nations headquarters in New York on Tuesday, at a panel discussion on arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance in Syria, co-sponsored by Amnesty International and the German Mission to the United Nations.

Bader, her husband Mazen Darwish, and a dozen of their colleagues at the center were detained in 2012. Bader and some colleagues were soon released, but her husband remains imprisoned.

Speaking on the panel, she called her country “an arena of fighting over sectarian issues.”

“The situation is horrible. The international community has failed to find a solution to these cases,” Bader said through a translator.

“Syrian citizens would have no faith in the international community for solutions to the crisis. We all have to work to regain the confidence of the Syrian individual.”

In February, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) estimated “tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands” of people have passed through Syrian detention facilities. OHCHR “called on the Syrian authorities to release all detainees held without due process by government forces and militias,” citing “quite dire conditions” including a lack of food and medical attention, ill treatment and torture, and prison overcrowding.

Syrian human rights lawyer Anwar Al-Bunni also spoke as part of Tuesday’s panel, claiming that there are at least 150,000 people who have gone missing, and detailing the treatment received by an estimated 50,000 people currently in detention.

“There are 22 methods of torture, including beatings, electric shocks, rape, starvation, total deprivation of medical care,” he said through a translator.

“Imagine that, during this meeting, two detainees would have died through torture.”

Ambassador Harald Braun, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, told the panel a referral to the International Criminal Court was “long overdue.”

Neil Sammonds, Syria researcher for Amnesty International, called on the global community to keep monitoring the Syrian conflict and not to let the situation be pushed to the background by other international crises.

“It’s getting harder and harder. Maybe from fatigue, or the other horrible things in the world, there is less attention on Syria,” he said.

“We’re all hard-pressed to think of any human rights catastrophe which has been so well-documented. I’m not sure what more can be done [to raise awareness of the situation]. It’s for the media to do.”

Follow Josh Butler on Twitter @JoshButler

Edited by Roger Hamilton-Martin

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