Kenneth Roth: "World leaders should signal to President Putin that unless he changes track and acts to end atrocities by Russian and Syrian forces in Syria, they won’t be in their seats in the VIP box with him on opening night"

posted 22 May 2018, 11:46 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 22 May 2018, 11:49 ]
“In hosting one of the most televised events in the world, Russia is courting world public opinion and looking for respect. World leaders should signal to President Putin that unless he changes track and acts to end atrocities by Russian and Syrian forces in Syria, they won’t be in their seats in the VIP box with him on opening night. [...] Autocratic leaders often seek to host popular sporting events as a way to present a positive image to the rest of the world. World leaders should not allow a sporting event to gloss over a pattern of atrocities in Syria that now looms over two million civilians. This is no time to join ceremonial events that serve mostly to burnish the credentials of their host while Russia’s forces are assisting rather than preventing attacks on civilians. [...] There was a time when Putin’s government appeared prepared to rein in some of the most egregious abuses of its Syrian ally, such as the use of chemical weapons that have killed civilians in their sleep. Sadly, as of late, the Kremlin has become an apologist for and active participant in the Syrian government’s abuses and spared no effort to block accountability for these war crimes. [...] The image of a confident and modern super-power that the Kremlin is trying to project by hosting the World Cup is incompatible with the crimes that Russia underwrites in Syria. No one should allow sports public relations to cover the abuses endured by Syrians at the hands of the Syrian government supported by its Russian ally. Only by redressing these egregious violations can Russia ensure that the opening ceremony of the World Cup will be a celebration worthy of other world leaders joining.”

                                                    Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch


Source: 'World Cup No Time to Obscure Plight of Syrians. World Leaders Should Sit Out Opening Ceremony Unless Syria Abuses are Addressed,' Human Rights Watch, 21 May 2018

Photo of Kenneth Roth: Human Rights Watch
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