Creating new perspectives since 2009

Amnesty likens devastation in Ukraine to Syria and Iraq

March 29, 2022 at 11:32 am

Secretary General of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard (C) holds a press conference in East Jerusalem on February 1, 2022. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

Amnesty International has criticised war crimes in Ukraine likening the devastation there to Syria and Iraq.

“What is happening in Ukraine is a repetition of what we have seen in Syria,” said Secretary-General of the rights watchdog, Agnes Callamard, referring to the UN Security Council as the “insecurity council” for failing to act over Syria, Afghanistan, and Myanmar.

Russia backed Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad in 2015 when his power was considerably waning. A UN report released two years ago found that Russia had direct involvement in war crimes in Syria for the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas.

Callamard raised the issue of attacks on civilian infrastructure, deliberate attacks on civilians and said that Russia had turned humanitarian corridors into death traps.

“We see the same thing here, just as Russia did in Syria,” she said, comparing Mariupol, which is under siege, to Aleppo which was under siege for four years, one of the longest sieges in modern warfare.

READ: Amnesty singles out UK for strong criticism on human rights concerns including refugee bill

“The siege of Mariupol, the denial of humanitarian evacuation and humanitarian escape for the population, and the targeting of civilians, according to Amnesty International’s investigation, amounts to war crimes,” said Callamard, adding that an in-depth report on the city would soon be released. “That is the reality of Ukraine right now.”

Callamard was speaking at the launch of Amnesty International’s annual report on human rights, in which the UK was singled out for particularly harsh criticism, including of its Nationality and Borders bill.

Callamard also compared what is happening in Ukraine to the US invasion of Iraq.

“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.”

Marie Struthers, Amnesty’s director in Eastern Europe, said at a briefing in Paris that Ukrainian researchers had noted the use of the same tactics that were used in Syria and Chechnya including the use of arms banned under international law.

In both countries Russian bombs have hit civilian infrastructure, schools, nurseries, maternity hospitals, and markets.

Reports reveal that Russia has used cluster munitions in Ukraine, as it did in Syria, injuring civilians and damaging hospitals and schools.