Russian invasion of Ukraine a ‘repeat’ of Syrian war: Amnesty

FILE – The Amnesty International logo is seen in their office in Hong Kong on October, 2021, as the Human Rights organisation announces it will be closing its offices by the end of 2021 citing Beijings enacted national security law as a reason. (Photo by ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AFP) – Russia’s assault on Ukraine is similar to its actions in the Syrian war, Amnesty International said Tuesday, raising concerns of “war crimes” as the civilian toll grows a month after Moscow’s invasion.

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

She was speaking in Johannesburg at the launch of the group’s annual report on the state of human rights in the world.

“We are in the midst of deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure,” she said, accusing Russia of turning humanitarian corridors into “death traps”.

Secretary General at Amnesty International, Dr Agnès Callamard, is seen during a visit on March 10, 2022 in the Mukuru Kwa Njenga informal settlements, where structures have been demolished in November 2021 to pave the way for the construction of the Nairobi Expressway. (Photo by Simon MAINA / AFP)

“We see the same thing (in Ukraine), just as Russia did in Syria”.

Amnesty’s director in Eastern Europe and Asia, Marie Struthers concurred, telling a separate briefing in Paris that researchers in Ukraine had “documented the use of the same tactics as in Syria and Chechnya, including attacks on civilians and the use of arms prohibited under international law.

Comparing the besieged city of Mariupol, to Syrian city of Aleppo, bludgeoned by President Bashar al-Assad, with the help of Russian airpower, Callamard said the rights lobby group’s “observation at this point, is a rise in war crimes,” she said.

The US government last week said public information and intelligence it has collected amounts to strong evidence that the Russian military has committed war crimes in Ukraine.

A senior Ukrainian official told AFP Monday that around 5,000 people have been buried in Mariupol alone.

Russia was the main backer of the Syrian governments in the war that erupted in March 2011.

FILE – Syrians wave flag of Russia and a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad during a rally in support of Russia in the Syrian capital Damascus, on March 25, 2022. – Russia, which invaded Ukraine end of February, has honed its military know-how and sharpened its tactics after intervening over six years ago in Syria to shore up key ally President Bashar al-Assad. The launch of Russia’s military intervention in Syria marked a turning point in Assad’s fortunes, and has enabled Moscow to deepen its military, economic and cultural ties with the regime. (Photo by LOUAI BESHARA / AFP)

Callamard blamed Russia’s “insolence” on a “paralysed international system” and the “shameful inaction” of institutions including the UN Security Council.

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