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(New York) – Vetoes by Russia and China of the UN Security Council resolution on Syria are a betrayal of the Syrian people, Human Rights Watch said today. A resolution urging the Syrian government to end all human rights violations and cooperate with the UN commission of inquiry and the Arab League observer mission was approved by 13 council members, including India, South Africa, and Pakistan, before being vetoed.

“After weeks of Russian diplomatic games-playing and in the middle of a bloodbath in Homs, vetoes by Moscow and Beijing are simply incendiary,” said Philippe Bolopion, UN director at Human Rights Watch. “Vetoes by Russia and China are not only a slap in the face of the Arab League, they are also a betrayal of the Syrian people.”

The death toll had more than doubled since Russia and China vetoed a previous Syria resolution on October 4, according to United Nations figures. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported 5,400 dead in December, but as the country descends into chaos, her office stopped counting for lack of accurate figures. Human Rights Watch warned the government of President Bashar al-Assad, blamed for the majority of the killings, against interpreting this double veto as a green light for even more violence.

“The Russian government is not only unapologetically arming a government that is killing its own people, but also providing it with diplomatic cover,” Bolopion said. “But the failure of this resolution should not provide illusory comfort to the Assad government: most countries around the world and in Syria’s neighborhood are repulsed by its bloody repression campaign.”

By supporting this resolution, South Africa, India, and Pakistan rose to the occasion and sided with the Syrian people, Human Rights Watch said.

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