ARAB BODY CALLS FOR WITHDRAWAL OF OBSERVERS FROM SYRIA
- A pan-Arab body called Sunday for the immediate withdrawal of the Arab League monitors in Syria because President Bashar Assad's regime has kept up killings — including a reported eight more Sunday — of government opponents even in the presence of the observers, Thestar.com reported. The 88-member Arab Parliament said Arabs are angered by the Syrian regime's ongoing killings while the nearly 100 monitors are in the country. The monitors are supposed to be ensuring Syria complies with terms of the League's plan to end the nine-month-old crackdown on dissent — a plan Syria agreed to on Dec. 19. However, the Kuwaiti head of the Arab Parliament, Ali Salem al-Deqbasi, said the presence of the monitors is distracting from the "flagrant violations" committed by Assad's regime. "The killing of children and the violation of human rights law is happening in the presence of Arab League monitors, raising the fury of Arab people," he said. "The mission of the Arab League team has missed its aim of stopping the killing of children and ensuring the withdrawal of troops from the Syrian streets, giving the Syrian regime a cover to commit inhumane acts under the noses of the Arab League observers," al-Deqbasi said in a statement. Some of Sunday's eight deaths occurred when security forces fired on protesters in the Damascus suburb of Daria, according to local coordination committees who tally casualties. The Arab League created the Arab Parliament, which is made up of lawmakers and advisers from states around the Middle East. Its recommendations are nonbinding and it operates separately from the Arab League. While the Arab Parliament has little sway on Damascus or the Arab League, al-Deqbasi's remarks about the observer mission represents growing concern about the monitors' ability to deter Assad's regime from killing protesters. According to activists, more than 150 people have been killed across the country since the observers began their one-month mission on Tuesday. The UN says more than 5,000 people have died as the government has sought to crush the revolt. The Arab League plan demands that the government remove its security forces and heavy weapons from cities, start talks with the opposition and allow human rights workers and journalists into the country. It also calls for the release of all political prisoners. The ongoing violence in Syria, and questions about the human rights record of the head of the Arab League monitors, Sudanese Lt.-Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, are reinforcing the opposition's view that Syria's limited cooperation with the observers is merely a ploy by Assad to buy time and forestall more international condemnation and sanctions. The Syrian opposition has called for the removal of al-Dabi, a longtime loyalist of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on an international arrest warrant on charges of genocide in the Darfur region.
© AUAToday in Armenian history
- 1850 Opening of the first State School for girls in Yerevan (Hripsimeh School).
- 1863 Stepan Papazian publishes the "Jamanak" periodical until 1869, in Constantinople.
- 1901 Death of Matheos Mamuryan (educator and public figure, translator, novelist) in Smyrna. He was born in 1830.