Press Release

August 5, 2011

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, called for the United Nations to end its tepid response to the dire situation in Syria where the Assad regime is escalating their offense against the Syrian people. In May, Senator Cardin cosponsored a key resolution that strongly condemned the growing crackdown.

“I am outraged and saddened by the recent actions by the Assad regime against the Syrian people.  The use of military force, including tanks, armored vehicles and snipers, against civilians peacefully demonstrating is completely unacceptable and should be condemned by the international community without hesitation.  Even by the dismal standards of Syria’s human rights record, the current actions are indefensible.  They only serve to reinforce that Assad and his regime are unwilling to recognize and listen to the legitimate demands of the Syrian people for greater freedoms.

“The United States should work with our international partners to bring the strongest possible measures to bear against Assad and his regime.  In particular, I am glad to see the UN Security Council condemn human rights violations and the use of force against civilians by Syrian authorities. But I call on members of the Security Council who have previously opposed stronger action to end their intransigence.   No one should be above the law and, as we have seen elsewhere in the region, former rulers can and will be held accountable for crimes committed while in power.

“I support the Syrian people in standing up for their basic freedoms and human rights in the face of horrific violence and condemn in the strongest sense the actions of Assad and his regime.”

In February 2009, when Senator Cardin was Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, he led a congressional delegation trip to Syria – the first in many years. During this visit, Senator Cardin pressed President Assad intensely on fundamental freedoms and human rights. The potential for this current situation was clear then, as Senator Cardin noted at the time: “The fact that Assad turned on his own people should not have been a shock. Syria was not a surprise. Assad rules that country with an iron hand.”