This Thursday afternoon, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condem the regime of President Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown on the 11-month uprising and to adopt an Arab League resolution to end the bloody conflict. The resolution was introduced by Egypt’s ambsassador, Maged Abdelaziz, who said that ”We demand that the Syrian government heed the demands of the Arab and Syrian people and staunch the bloodshed.”
While the 137-12 vote, with 17 abstentions, is — unlike an earlier UN Security Council resolution that was vetoed by Russia and China — a “nonbinding action with no power of enforcement at the world body,” it is nonetheless a “significant humiliation” for Assad. The resolution also requires that Assad step down and transfer power to a vice president.
Bashar Jafari, Syria’s ambassador to the UN, said that the resolution was “biased” and that it “has nothing to do with events in Syria.” As expected, Russia and China both voted against the resolution; Venezuela also did, saying that it denied Syria of its sovereignty.
Earlier on Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had said that crimes against humanity “might be taking place” in Syria and called on Assad’s regime to cease killing citizens. 63 people have been reported killed today, with at least four in the southern city of Dara’a, where the uprising began in mid-March of last year, as well as in Homs, Hama and on the Iraqi and Lebanese borders. The Local Coordination Committees, a Syrian activist group, also said that Mazen Darwish, an activist and journalist who is the director of the Syrian Center for Media and Free Expression, was arrested along with several others, and that his office was raided. Prominent pro-democracy blogger Razan Ghazzawi is also reported to have been arrested.
China had said earlier on Thursday that it is sending Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun to Damascus on Friday to negotiate a “peaceful and proper” solution. Zhai had met with a Syrian opposition delegation last week in Beijing; it is not clear if he will meet with the opposition on his upcoming visit.
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