European Parliament resolution on the situation in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the Middle East and North Africa, with special regard to Syria, Bahrain and Yemen,

–   having regard to its report on European Union relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council of 24 March 2011,

–   having regard to the statement by European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek on the deadly attack against protesters in Syria of 23 March 2011,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 24 March 2011,

–   having regard to the Council conclusions on Bahrain and on Yemen of 21 March 2011,

–   having regard to the statements of the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission on Bahrain of 10, 15, and 17 March; on Syria of 18, 22, 24, and 26 March; and on Yemen of 10, 12, and 18 March 2011,

–   having regard to the Joint Communication by the High Representative and the Commission on ‘A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean’ of 8 March 2011,

–   having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders of 2004 as updated in 2008,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas, following other Arab countries, demonstrations in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen have expressed legitimate democratic aspirations and strong popular demand for political, economic and social reforms aimed at achieving genuine democracy, fighting corruption and nepotism, ensuring respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, reducing social inequalities, and creating better economic and social conditions,

B.  whereas the violent reaction by security forces to peaceful demonstrations in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen resulted in serious loss of life and injuries and imprisonments of protesters,

C. whereas the violent response by security forces has failed to stop the wave of protests from spreading across the country in Syria; whereas Syrian security forces used live ammunition against protesters; whereas Syrian authorities have mobilized pro-regime demonstrators in Damascus and other cities; whereas the Syrian government resigned on 29 March 2011 and Mr. Adel Safar has been appointed to form a new government; whereas the speech of President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian parliament on 30 March 2011 failed to meet expectations and hopes for significant reforms,

D. whereas the Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Syrian Arab Republic, of the other part, has still to be signed; whereas the signing of this Agreement has been delayed at Syria’s request since October 2009; whereas respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms constitutes an essential part of this Agreement,

E.  whereas Syria has been under emergency law since 1963; whereas a state of emergency has recently been declared in Bahrain and in Yemen,

F.  whereas, according to reports by human rights organisations, hospitals have been taken over and medical personnel, anti-government protesters and human rights defenders have been harassed and isolated in hospitals while ambulances bringing wounded anti-government demonstrators have been hindered by security forces in Bahrain and in Yemen,

G.  whereas Saudi, Kuwaiti and UAE troops have been deployed, following the request of the government, in Bahrain under the banner of the Gulf Cooperation Council to participate in the repression of demonstrators; whereas this stands in stark contrast to the GCC’s support for the protection of the citizens demanding freedom and democracy in Libya,

H. whereas President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been ruling the country for 32 years, has promised to step down in Yemen; whereas, however, the President has not taken any serious steps to fulfil his promises for a peaceful democratic transition so far,

1.  Strongly condemns the violent repression by security forces of peaceful demonstrators in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen, and extends its condolences to the families of the victims;

2.  Expresses its solidarity with the people in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen, applauds their courage and determination, and strongly supports their legitimate democratic aspirations;

3.  Calls on the authorities in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen to refrain from the use of violence against demonstrators, to respect their freedom of assembly and expression, and to guarantee their security; calls for independent inquiries into the events leading to deaths, injuries and imprisonments of peaceful protesters in these countries and for those responsible to be brought to justice; calls for an immediate and unconditional release of all persons arrested during the demonstrations as well as of all political prisoners and human rights defenders;

4.  Calls on the governments of Bahrain, Syria and Yemen to engage in an open and meaningful political process and dialogue without delay or precondition, with the participation of all democratic political forces and civil society, aimed at paving the way for genuine democracy, the lifting of the state of emergency, and the implementation of real, ambitious and significant political, economic, and social reforms, which are essential for long-term stability and development;

5.  Calls on the governments of Bahrain, Syria and Yemen to fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, with special regard to the freedom of assembly and expression and the right to demonstrate peacefully; urges the government of Bahrain to guarantee full respect for the freedom of religion in the country;

6.  Calls on President Bashar al-Assad to put an end to the policy of repression of political opposition and human rights defenders, to genuinely lift the state of emergency that has been in place since 1963, to support the process of democratic transition in Syria, and to establish a concrete agenda for political, economic and social reforms;

7.  Expresses its deep concern at the participation of foreign troops under GCC banner in the repression of demonstrators in Bahrain and calls for their unconditional withdrawal; calls also for a political dialogue that can lead to further necessary political reforms in the country;

8.  Calls on President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen to fulfil his promises for democratic transition including the organisation of free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power through constitutional institutions; calls on all political forces to meet their responsibility by engaging in an open and constructive political dialogue involving all democratic political parties and movements as well as civil society;

9.  Calls on the European Union and its Member States to take into full consideration recent and ongoing events and further developments in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen in bilateral relations with these countries, including the suspension of further negotiations over the still pending Association Agreement between the EU and Syria; invites the EU High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission to elaborate and implement concrete proposals and measures in this regard; calls on the European Union and its Member States to support calls for independent investigations into the attacks against protestors in these countries;

10. Calls on the European Union and its Member States to support peaceful democratic aspirations of people in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen and to stand ready to assist, in case of a serious commitment by national authorities, the implementation of concrete political, economic and social reform agendas in these countries;

11. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, the Government and Parliament of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Government and Parliament of the Syrian Arab Republic, and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Yemen.

(www.europarl.europa.eu / 06.04.2011)

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