Avaaz: Assad has Shredded Annan Plan, Plan B Needed
Today Avaaz will deliver a 764,000-strong petition to the UN Security Council calling for 3,000 monitors to be immediately deployed to every region in Syria, while leaders engage in urgent political efforts to resolve the conflict. In the wake of another massacre in Hama where at least 27 children were killed, the global campaign organisation has assessed Annan’s 6-point plan and found that it has failed on every count, with nearly 2,000 people killed since Annan launched the plan three months ago.
Ricken Patel, Executive Director of Avaaz said: “With Russia’s backing, Assad has shredded the Annan plan. Last night, another 60 massacred bodies were found, dozens were children. The world’s inaction allowed the killing in Rwanda — have we learned from our mistakes, or will we leave the Syrian people to their grisly fate? Without a stronger UN presence on the ground and sanctions now, we are heading for a full-blown sectarian war that may last for generations and breed the kind of terrorist attacks we have yet to imagine in our worst nightmares.”
Yesterday, another massacre took place in Mazraat al Qubair – a Sunni village near Hama – where at least 60 bodies have been counted – of which 27 are children and 15 are women – with around 35 other victims believed to have been moved by death squads to neighbouring villages. Initial reports say many children were under age 10 and that the army shelled the village for 30 minutes before militias entered the village and shot and stabbed people. Over 35 of the bodies found were burnt. The massacre has been verified by two sources with whom Avaaz has spoken. The UN Monitors were blocked from visiting the village yesterday but arrived this morning – accompanied by the Syrian army, but many people in the village are too scared to talk to them.
Em Shalaan, 45, who lost her husband, three children and six grandchildren in the Houla massacre last month, spoke to Avaaz this week: “The shabiha came in and pulled out the men in the family and shot them in the street. I then heard one of them outside saying ‘kill the women and children – kill them all’. I ran to the stables behind the house and hid in the hay. I could hear my children screaming ‘help me mum’. After 30 mins I went back and found the bodies. I discovered only my 13 year old daughter had survived, with a bullet wound in the chest. Why did I lose my family, what did they do to deserve this?”
Avaaz is calling for 3,000 monitors to be permanently stationed in the 14 regions of the country, arguing these could drastically deter violence and save civilian lives, while opening the space for peaceful protest. Avaaz is urging the UN to set out an urgent Plan B to prevent attacks on civilians and establish a clear timeline and benchmarks for sanctions and counter-measures if Assad continues to block UN efforts for peace. Avaaz’s assessment of the Annan plan is as follows:
1. Launch of inclusive peace process: Failed
Assad has blamed Arab and Western countries for funding and arming terrorists in order to derail Annan’s plan. The opposition is unable to organize effectively in Syria due in part to the detention, torture and murder of countless opposition activists.
2. Ceasefire: Failed
Clashes between forces are rife, and crackdowns against peaceful protesters and regime shelling of residential areas continue unabated. While the Free Syrian Army partially held to the ceasefire, this week it announced its withdrawal from the plan in the face of unchecked regime violence.
3. Delivery of humanitarian aid: Partial
The government heavily controls ICRC and Red Crescent aid routes and has prevented aid from entering across borders, while aid can only be distributed in 5 locations and under regime control. Although Assad mentioned that other agencies could enter the country yesterday, it was unclear how this will work.
4. Release of detained prisoners: Failed
While 86 Aleppo University students were released in early May, more than 600 remain in detention. Mazen Darwish has been detained for 111 days, despite Kofi Annan asking the authorities to release him during his first visit.
5. Free movement for media: Failed
While the regime claims 400 visas have been issued for media, journalists’ movements remain severely restricted, making it virtually impossible to report freely; the people they speak to are often targeted for speaking to them.
6. Freedom to protest: Failed
Peaceful protesters are still regularly targeted by shooting and even shelling, in addition to round-ups of protesters, including children, who are routinely tortured in detention.
Outside the UN in New York today, Avaaz members staged a protest laying out the figures of 49 tiny corpses shrouded in white sheets along the sidewalk, to represent the children killed in the Houla massacre last month. Over 1,000 children have been killed since the uprising started in Syria.
Last week, Avaaz launched an urgent campaign which was backed by people from across the world for “3,000 international monitors being sent to Syria with a mandate to protect civilians, and leaders to move fast to define a political transition plan”. More than 764,000 people have now backed the campaign, with numbers continuing to rise.