U.N. Chief To Syrian President: ‘Stop Killing Your People’
U.N. head Ban Ki-Moon made the plea during a speech at a conference in Lebanon on Arab world democracy.
"Today, I say again to President Assad of Syria: Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of repression is a dead end," Ban said.
The U.N. leader continued by claiming that the crumbling “old order” of one-man rule, the silencing of media and deprivation of fundamental freedoms is “cause to celebrate.”
“For too long, Arabs stood on the sidelines,” Ban said. “They watched as others threw off tyranny — in Europe, Asia and Africa. They asked: Why not us? Why so little democracy in a part of the world so rich in human potential? Now their time has come.”
Ban’s words came as the Syrian leader granted a general amnesty to anti-government demonstrators for crimes committed since the uprising began last year. It was not clear how many prisoners would be released under this amnesty, according to the AP.
State-run Syrian media reported that Assad’s amnesty would apply to army deserters who turned themselves in before the end of January, peaceful protesters and those who handed in unlicensed weapons, according to the BBC.
Assad had offered amnesty to his opponents last May, but the action did not lead to a release of prisoners and was condemned by detractors as an attempt to deflect attention as the regime’s grip on Syria began to slip, according to the Guardian.
Arab League observers are expected to wrap up a fact-finding mission on Jan. 19 to determine if Syria is abiding by an agreement to halt the violence, CNN reported.
But the presence of observers has had minimal effect on easing the bloodshed.
The U.N. estimates that 400 people were killed in the last three weeks alone, to go along with the more than 5,000 deaths that have been reported since last March, according to the AP.
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