Obama to Syria: Step Down, Assad
Posted on Aug 18, 2011
President Obama and other world leaders called Thursday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign in the face of the regime’s continued violence against pro-democracy protesters.
Obama was joined in his call for Assad to surrender power by British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as the European Union.
In an effort to put even more pressure on Assad to resign, Obama also announced that the U.S. would be stepping up sanctions, especially by freezing Syria’s assets and by banning U.S. imports of oil products coming from the country. But beyond that, Obama insisted that the transition of power is up to the people of Syria, not the U.S. —BF
The call from western capitals came as it was revealed that UN human rights investigators have listed the names of 50 regime figures who could be prosecuted by the international criminal court (ICC) for crimes committed against civilians during the violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.
The list is believed to include officials from the president’s inner circle and security agencies. It marks the first time that government insiders have faced the prospect of criminal charges since the five-month uprising began.
A decision on whether to refer the names to the ICC is likely to be made on Thursday.
The UN report accuses officials of torture, summary executions and abuse of children – allegations that could amount to crimes against humanity. It accuses security forces of indiscriminately firing at demonstrators, sometimes from helicopters, and says injured protesters have been killed inside hospitals, even being locked alive in mortuary freezers.
AP / Kostas Tsironis
Protesters burn a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with “corruption” written across his face during a demonstration in Athens, Greece, in May.