June 14, 2012
China says it does not approve of using sanctions to address the crisis in Syria, a day after France’s foreign minister discussed possible measures to enforce a faltering cease-fire plan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Thursday his country objected to using pressure, and instead backed the efforts of international envoy Kofi Annan.
“Under the current circumstances, all the parties should continue to vigorously support U.N. envoy Kofi Annan’s mediation efforts,” Liu said. “We urge relevant parties in Syria to effectively implement relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and Annan’s six-point proposals, actively cooperate with the U.N. monitors, end any form of violence, protect civilians, and ease the current tense situation as soon as possible.”
Russia has also been opposed to Western and Arab efforts to impose U.N. sanctions on Syria’s government. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended his country’s arms sales to Syria, Wednesday, saying they do not violate international law.
Syria’s ambassador to Russia also rejected criticism of the sales during a visit Thursday to Moscow. Riyad Haddad said the arms are defensive weapons, and further blamed Western countries for any failures of the Annan plan.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday it was time for the international community, including Russia, to come to table and “be constructive” in finding a way forward in Syria despite deviating views.
Violence in Syria continued Thursday, with reported clashes in Homs and Rastan. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least four civilians were killed.
U.N. observers visited the site of a car bombing Thursday near the capital, Damascus, which state media said wounded 14 people.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International issued a report saying it has new evidence of widespread and systematic rights violations by government forces seeking to punish those supporting the opposition.
The group says its workers witnessed Syrian security forces firing on peaceful demonstrators late last month in Aleppo, and that families described soldiers dragging away family members and killing them.
Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis advisor, said the U.N. Security Council has failed, and called for “concrete action” to hold those responsible accountable.
“We are now facing a situation which has deteriorated so much precisely because of the failure of the Security Council to act earlier on when the situation was — when it was more possible to avoid the kind of large scale killings and massacres that we’re seeing today,” she said.
The group said it has received reports of more than 10,000 people being killed since the crisis in Syria began in February 2011, and that the number could be much higher.
This article first appeared on VOA News.com.