Statement by Ambassador Dr Peter Wittig in the open Security Council debate on Syria (27 April 2011)

Apr 27, 2011

(Checked against delivery)

Mr. President,

· We are grateful to you for having convened this very timely meeting. Let me also thank Under-Secretary-General Pascoe for his briefing.
The information he gave is truly worrying.

· It is urgently necessary that the Council discusses the situation
in Syria: The scale of violence and brutality used for internal repression is deeply disturbing. What is more, the situation has obvious regional and international implications, given Syrias's
critical importance to peace and security in the Middle East -
including being host to a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

· The briefing we heard as well as facts from the ground have shown: The Syrian authorities are using violence against peaceful demonstrators. We are deeply shocked by the death of civilians, killed because they tried to exercise their fundamental rights.

· The systematic use of force by deploying tanks and using live ammunition comes from the Syrian authorities. The demonstrators do not have tanks. They do not arrest people arbitrarily, and they do not curtail journalists in their reporting.

· The continued violence against peaceful protestors is completely unacceptable. It has to stop immediately. All announcement of reforms are undermined by the ongoing violence.

Mr President,

· The reports we receive from Daraa are deeply disturbing. Tanks and artillery have been deployed. There have been many casualties. It is impossible to access the area. We demand access for international observers and that those responsible for the killings be held accountable.

· In this connection we strongly support the Secretary General's call for an independent, transparent and effective investigation into the killings.

· The Syrian authorities must respect human rights, including the right of peaceful assembly, as well as the freedom of opinion and of the press. We also call on the Syrian authorities to respect their obligation of safeguarding the integrity and dignity of all detainees and their right to a fair legal process.

· The Syrian government now has the choice between ending the violence and beginning the radical, tangible and meaningful reforms that are needed or to continue with ever more violent repressions. Choosing the latter would be a very short-sighted approach that would require us to react with appropriate measures. Continue repression is not a solution.

· Germany has so far taken up a number of initiatives, including summoning the Syrian ambassador to Germany on several occasions, we have strongly supported a special session on Syria at the Human rights council, and welcome that it will take place this Friday. Together with our partners, we will consider action at the level of the EU before the end of this week. This might include sanctions.

Thank you very much.

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