Arab rights groups demand UN intervention in Syria

A group of 140 Arab rights groups demanded the withdrawal of the "flawed" Arab League observer mission from Syria.

Cairo: A group of 140 Arab rights groups
on Wednesday demanded the withdrawal of the "flawed" Arab League
observer mission from Syria and called for UN intervention to
halt the violence.

The coalition sent a letter to the pan-Arab bloc urging
it to withdraw the mission given the "flaws that have severely
undermined" its efficiency and the Syrian government`s failure
to implement the Arab League peace plan.

The letter also urged the UN Security Council "to take
action to address the violence."

The heavily criticised monitoring team has been in Syria
since December 26 to oversee an Arab road map under which
Damascus agreed to end the violence, withdraw the army from
the main cities, give journalists and observers access to all
parts of the country and free political prisoners.

The Arab League is due to meet on Saturday and Sunday to
discuss its mission`s future, as well as a proposal by Qatar
to send Arab troops to Syria that Damascus has flatly

"The monitoring mission lacks basic transparency and
credibility, the mission is under the authority of Sudan`s
ex-military intelligence director who was president`s Darfur
adviser during the genocide," allegedly committed there, said
Radwan Ziadeh, president of one coalition member, the Damascus
Center for Human Rights Studies.

"No observers have been able to do their job: instead,
the mission legitimises the Syrian regime," Ziadeh added, in a
statement representing the rights groups working in 19
different countries.

The unrest in Syria between the security forces and
pro-democracy activists has left more than 5,400 people dead
since it first erupted in March, according to the United
Nations, with 400 killed since the mission`s deployment.

Former Arab League observer Anouar Malek, who resigned in
protest over its credibility and aims, echoed Ziadeh`s
criticism of the mission and his call for UN intervention.

"I was threatened with death for doing my job as I
watched people being killed, beaten up and arrested by police,
soldiers and militiamen. The Syrian regime is plainly defying
the Arab League.

"I join the coalition`s call for an end to the mission
and immediate action by the UN Security Council," he said.

A tough UN Security Council resolution on Syria has been
blocked by permanent members Russia and China, which defended
the Arab mission today.

"Since the Arab League observer mission began, the
violence in Syria has not completely ended, but the security
situation of major areas has improved," said Chinese foreign
ministry spokesman Liu Weimin.