Human Rights Violations in Syria: Unlawful Killings, Sexual Violence, and Violations of Journalistic Rights

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Robel Tsegay
Anna Joy
Research Essay
Final Draft
Human Rights Violations in Syria
In March 2011, inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian revolution, Syrians started an uprising against their corrupt government. President Bashar al-Assad inherited Syria’s harsh dictatorship from his father and remained in power by force, denying his people their basic human rights. Since then the Syrian government has been involved in inhuman and violent acts against its own people who were demonstrating against the killings of thousands of civilians and unjust imprisonment (Moubayed 340). People who spoke up against the brutal treatment of the government were imprisoned and burned to death. Human rights violations in Syria include unlawful killings, sexual violence, and violations of journalistic rights. One of the human rights violations committed by the Syrian armed forces is unlawful killing of innocent civilians. Syrian armed forces have committed crimes against humanity by killing civilian protesters who are thought to be against the government and innocent women and children (Saunders 67). An example would be the Houla massacre which was an attack that took place on May 25, 2012, in the midst of the Syrian civil war, in two opposition-controlled villages in the Houla Region of Syria. During the massacre 108 people were killed, including 34 women and 49 children. The military troops even killed innocent children. An example was a 10 year old boy who witnessed an execution of his 13 year old friend and his friend’s family. He and his mother were hiding in their apartment complex. When he heard women crying and gun shots, he looked outside the window. He saw armed men wearing military uniforms walking on the street. Across the street he saw his friend Shafiq, a 13 year old boy outside standing alone. An armed man grabbed Shafiq and put him by the door of his house. He took his weapon and shot him in the head. Shafiqs mother and 14 year old sister went outside and started shouting and crying. The same man shot both of them more than once. Then the armed men left (“The Massacre at Houla” 22). Syrian military forces killing innocent children was very cruel and inhuman. Syrian troops have been killing innocent women and children since the uprising to overthrow the regime. In August 2012 UN investigators released a report which stated that it was the Syrian troops and Shabiha militia who were responsible for the massacre. The soldiers were ordered “shoot to kill unarmed protesters,” which is against the law of humanity. Based on the evidence the United Nations condemned the Syrian government for human rights violation of firing heavy weapons on civilians (“The Massacre at Houla” 22). The United Nations tried to intervene to solve the problem of unlawful killings in Syria but failed since the civil war is still going on. Another human rights violation that has been increasingly going on since the civil war in Syria is sexual violence. Syrian government forces have been using sexual violence to torture men and women detained during the uprising. Many of the women who were arrested for political activism, including attending protests were being sexually abused. The detainees including underage girls witnessed and experienced rape, penetration with objects, sexual groping, prolonged forced nudity, and electroshock and genital beating (Cohen 26). The assaults were not limited to detention facilities; government forces and pro-government shabiha militia members have also sexually assaulted women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps. Selma, from Karm al-Zeitoun, told human rights activists a story about her neighbors being raped while she was hiding in her apartment in March 2012. From her hiding place she could hear the soldiers exchange words with the women next door and the soldiers forced entry into their house. Selma also heard her neighbor say, “don’t touch my daughters.” Selma...
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