Syrian Crisis

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I. Background to the crisis in Syria
Protests asking for the release of political prisoners began mid-March 2011 and were immediately met by Syrian security forces who at first detained and attacked protestors with batons, and later opened gunfire, and deployed tanks and naval ships against civilians. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refused to halt the violence and implement meaningful reforms demanded by protestors such as the lifting of emergency law, broader political representation and a freer media. Assad continued to deny responsibility for the attacks on protestors, placing the blame for the violence on armed groups and foreign conspirators instead. On 16 February President Assad called for a referendum to be held on 26 February
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According to Syrian National Council representatives in Geneva, over 1,000 civilians were killed in the first two weeks of April, with shelling and mortar fire in the northern village of Marea and the city of Homs on 10 April. Reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch highlighted ongoing rights abuses, from the arrest of minors to extrajudicial executions. The impact of the conflict began taking its toll on the countries bordering Syria, with over 24,000 Syrians occupying the Turkish refugee camp of Kilis, which reportedly came under fire from government forces on 9 April; meanwhile Lebanese opposition leader Amin Gemayel has voiced concern that the fighting could spill over into Lebanon.
II. Crimes against humanity perpetrated by Syrian government
Syrian government use of excessive force against protestors
The Syrian government’s violent response to protests since mid-March has left over 5,400 people dead as of 10 January 2012, including at least 300 children, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Thousands more have been wounded, arbitrarily arrested, tortured and disappeared as protestors and their families within and outside of Syria have been targeted. Under-Secretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe informed Security Council members on 27 April 2011 that sources in Syria were “consistently reporting the use of artillery fire against unarmed civilians; door-to-door arrest campaigns; the

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