Devastation of war in Ukraine ‘repetition of Syria’ and Iraq, says Amnesty

‘What is happening in Ukraine is a repetition of what we have seen in Syria’

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 29 March 2022 11:23
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Ukraine: Drone footage shows shocking extent of destruction in Mariupol

The devastation caused by Russia in its war against Ukraine was dubbed as “a repetition” of Syria and Iraq by a top Amnesty International official.

“What is happening in Ukraine is a repetition of what we have seen in Syria,” Agnes Callamard, secretary-general of the global rights watchdog, said on Tuesday.

She was addressing a press conference in Johannesburg at the launch of the rights group’s annual report on the state of human rights in the world when she lambasted Russia and international systems, including the UN Security Council (UNSC).

Ms Callamard called out Russia for turning humanitarian corridors into “death traps” and the “deliberate” targeting of civilians.

“We are beyond indiscriminate attacks. We are in the midst of deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure,” she said. “We see the same thing here, just as Russia did in Syria.”

She went on to compare the crisis to the US invasion of Iraq and said it was not only a violation of international law, but also the UN charter.

“The crisis in Ukraine right now, the invasion ... is not just any kind of violation of international law. It is aggression. It is a violation of the UN charter of the kind that we saw when the US invaded Iraq,” she said.

Russia had intervened in Syria’s civil war in September 2015 on the behalf of president Bashar al-Assad, who has supported the Kremlin on the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia is accused of helping him aerially bombard and starve entire cities, such as Aleppo, into submission.

Ms Callamard likened Aleppo to the besieged city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, which has become a grim example of Russia’s increasingly brutal war. She has accused Russia of committing war crimes in the city.

Ukrainian officials have claimed around 5,000 people have been killed in Mariupol alone, after the city’s maternity hospital, refugee shelter and residential blocks among other civilian buildings were aerially bombarded, with UN officials finding mounting evidence of mass graves in the city.

Ms Callamard also slammed the UNSC for its “shameful inaction” over the invasion and Russia’s “insolence” in the face of a “paralysed international system”.

“The UN Security Council would be more aptly named the UN Insecurity Council,” she said, adding that it had failed to act “adequately in the face of atrocities” in countries like Myanmar, Afghanistan and Syria.

She urged for there to not be any “neutrality” in dealing with Russian aggression.

Ms Callamard also hit out at South Africa for pursuing its non-aligned stance, describing it as “weak, unhistorical and short-sighted”.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015. Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered. To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here.

To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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