GENEVA, March 23, 2005 ­ Testifying today before the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, a multinational coalition of 11 NGO’s, including UN Watch, Freedom House and Canada’s Droits et Democratie, blasted Syria for “gross human rights violations” arising out of its “illegal occupation of Lebanon.” The joint NGO statement, delivered by UN Watch Chairman Alfred H. Moses before hundreds of state and NGO delegates, stirred defensive replies by the Syrian and Lebanese ambassadors.

The ambassadors appeared particularly outraged by the statement’s support for a new draft resolution, submitted to the Commission today by UN Watch, that would for the first time acknowledge the human rights victims from Syria’s occupation. To become official, though, the UN Watch resolution must be adopted and tabled by a state member. France is seen by some observers to be the most likely sponsor of the draft resolution, albeit with milder language.

In their joint statement, the NGOs condemned Syria on behalf of “hundreds of Lebanese civilians, believed to have been killed or ‘disappeared’ by Syrian occupation forces.” The organizations, based in Canada, Italy, Switzerland, the U.S. and elsewhere, cited the suffering of Samir Gea’gea’and Jirjis al-Khouri “who were subjected to an unfair trial­a violation of Articles 9(3) and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights­followed by ten years of solitary confinement in cruel and degrading conditions.” The NGOs also spoke out for legal scholar Dr. Mohammed Mograby, “endlessly persecuted for the crime of campaigning for investigations into judicial corruption in Syrian-occupied Lebanon, and for an inquiry into the ‘disappearances’ of two Lebanese transferred to Syrian custody in 1997.” Dr. Mograby was recently interrogated on charges of “assaulting the standing of the state” and “doing bad things to the military establishment.”

The joint statement emphasized also that Security Council Resolution 1559 “requires the government of Iran to withdraw its Revolutionary Guards who illegally occupy Lebanon”, and “the full disarming of Hezbollah…which cannot claim to be for Lebanon when it is for foreign occupation, nor a political party when it possesses 12,000 missiles.”For the second year in a row, the statement for Lebanese freedom was delivered under the Commission’s Agenda Item for “Occupied Arab Territories”, which has traditionally been devoted to condemnation of Israel.

To see the full text of the NGO joint statement, please click here.

Co-sponsors of NGO Statement for Lebanese Freedom:
UN Watch
Freedom House
Droits et Democratie / Rights & Democracy
Transnational Radical Party
Association for Democratic Initiatives
Association of World Citizens
Fundacion “8 de Marzo”
Intersos – organizzazione umanitaria per l’ermergenza
Liberal International
World Information Transfer
International Association of Educators for World Peace

UN Watch is a Geneva-based NGO that monitors the UN according to the principles of its own Charter.