‘We expect the Commission of Inquiry will identify those responsible for the attacks'
India on Friday joined 41 other countries at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva to vote for a resolution “strongly condemning'' the recent El-Houleh incident, which resulted in the death of over a hundred civilians including women and children.
The vote came a day after the Head of the U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria Gen. Robert Mood praised Damascus for the release of detainees who were discharged on Thursday in the presence of U.N. observers. “This is a positive act in these challenging times. It is an encouraging step towards the implementation of Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan's Six-Point Plan,” said Gen. Mood.
Elaborating on India's stance at the 19th Special Session of the UNHRC, Indian Permanent Representative Hardeep Puri said the El-Houleh incident underscores what the situation can lead to if there is any further delay in the complete cessation of violence. Condemning the incident, he said: “We expect that the Commission of Inquiry will be able to identify those responsible for these heinous attacks and provide clarity on the events that led to it.”
Sticking to its even handed formulation which was reflected in explanation of vote (EoV) at the U.N. Security Council on previous occasions, India once again stressed the need for all parties involved to abjure violence to ensure a genuine chance for a realistic and lasting solution to the Syrian crisis.
It urged all sides to comply with their obligations under the Annan Plan, a point made forcefully in April at the UNSC with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna calling up former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan before the vote to underscore New Delhi's support for the initiative led by him.
India's EoV also pointed out that it has consistently supported all efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis through an inclusive Syrian-led political process. “To this end, we have given our full support for the mission of Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan.”
This was the fourth time that the Geneva-based U.N.-HRC has called an emergency meeting on Syria. In her address, High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Council Navi Pillay urged the international community to throw its weight behind the six-point Annan Plan and call for immediate probe into the El-Houleh killings besides other rights violations in Syria. “Otherwise, the situation in Syria might descend into a full-fledged conflict and the future of the country, as well as the region as a whole could be in grave danger.''
Earlier this week, the U. N. Security Council condemned the killings and use of heavy artillery on a residential area.
Basing her assessment on preliminary reports, Ms. Pillay said shortly after a demonstration had taken place exactly a week back, the Syrian military “allegedly unleashed” a barrage of heavy weapons on the El-Houleh area, including artillery and tank fire, which continued until 2 a.m. the next day while “some reports suggest[ed]” that pro-government Shabiha paramilitary groups also entered the villages and may bear responsibility for dozens of killings. “These acts may amount to crimes against humanity and other international crimes, and may be indicative of a pattern of widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations that have been perpetrated with impunity,'' she said.