Vienna, 09 October 2012 – The Austrian Secretary General for External Affairs, Johannes Kyrle summoned the Syrian Ambassador to Austria to the Ministry for European and International Affairs on 8 October by order of Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger. This step was taken after high-level consultations with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRD) in Geneva to present the Ambassador with Austria’s strict condemnation of the escalation of violence, the attacks made by the Syrian air force on civilians and the repeated violations of territorial integrity of Turkey.
“The continued, severe violations of human rights in Syria are to be most strongly condemned. Syria is playing with fire. The targeted provocation of neighbouring Turkey is unacceptable and could easily lead to wildfire”, the Vice-Chancellor said as a warning.
The Secretary General presented a written list of concrete Austrian demands concerning the human rights situation to the Syrian Ambassador, including the urgent appeal to Syria to grant the international human rights organisations, such as the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights and especially the ICRC unrestricted access to the country. It must be possible for the ICRC to visit prisons at any time; moreover hospitals, houses of prayer and buildings bearing the ICRC emblem must be respected. It is also demanded that the members of the Commission of Inquiry of the UN Human Rights Council finally be issued with visas so that they can perform their duties on site and see the situation for themselves. Syria is also called upon to allow credible internal investigations of crimes against humanity and war crimes by independent courts.
Kyrle also referred on this occasion to the fate of Syrian opposition leader Abdel Aziz-Alkaya who disappeared in Damascus after his return from discussions in Beijing on 20 September 2012. Kyrle demanded Aziz-Alkaya’s immediate release.
“The Syrian political leadership clearly appears to be holding human life in contempt and it ignores the most fundamental rights of its own people. Syria must finally display its readiness to fully cooperate with international human rights organisations and make it possible for them to fulfil their mandate of protecting the people, and in particular women and children in Syria”, Spindelegger concluded.
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