Syria: UN General Assembly overwhelmingly condemns al-Assad crackdown


New York – In a landslide result, the UN General Assembly has voted 137 to 12 to adopt a resolution condeming the Syrian government, according to The Associated Press.

The General Assembly had convened in the last two hours to consider an Arab League-sponsored resolution condemning suppression of the popular anti-government uprising, which is now nearly a year old, and calling for a transition to democracy, according to the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

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The AP said there were 17 abstentions and that Russia and China were among the small cadre of nations supporting Syria.

China and Russia vetoed a similar resolution at the Security Council on Feb 4. The resolution adopted today, though it may have great weight politically, is non-binding, unlike resolutions that are adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter by the Security Council.

According to the AP, supporters had been hoping for a high degree of support, if not acclamation, to deliver a strong message to Syrian President al-Bashar Assad to immediately end all human rights violations and attacks on civilians and hand power to his vice-president.

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Al-Jazeera reported that violence continued in Syria today unabated, with oppositions sources saying that 22 people had been killed in ongoing assaults on centers of resistance.

According to CNN, the Syrian government has moved forward a Constitutional referendum which the al-Assad governmenet says marks important reforms but which critics say is a mere façade.

According to the Agence France-Presse news agency, Egyptian Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz said Syria had seen an "unacceptable escalation" of violence: "We demand that the Syrian government heed the demands of the Arab and Syrian people and staunch the bloodshed," he was quoted as saying.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said just ahead of today's vote Thursday's vote that the resolution was an unwarranted intervention in his country's internal affairs, according to the AFP. "Some of the co-sponsors would like to settle accounts with Syria," he was quoted as telling the General Assembly.

According to The New York Times, other opponents to the resolution included Venezuela and North Korea.

Hours before the vote, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, currently visiting Vienna, sharply criticized Syria: “We see neighborhoods shelled indiscriminately. Hospitals used as torture centers. Children as young as 10 years old jailed and abused. We see almost certain crimes against humanity," Ban was quoted as saying.

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