a “rehearsal” of Syria, warns Amnesty

© KEYSTONE/AP/Denis Farrell

The Russian invasion in Ukraine is a “rehearsal” of the war in Syria, Amnesty International warned on Tuesday, denouncing a “multiplication of war crimes”. The NGO calls for abandoning any position of neutrality vis-à-vis Moscow.

“What is happening in Ukraine is a repetition of what we have seen in Syria,” the NGO’s secretary general, Agnès Callamard, told AFP during the presentation in Johannesburg of the 2021-2022 report. on the situation of human rights in the world.

“We are in intentional attacks on civilian infrastructure, homes” and the bombing of schools, she blasted, accusing Russia of allowing humanitarian corridors to turn them into a “death trap”.

Comparing the martyrdom city of Mariupol (east) to the Syrian city of Aleppo, devastated by the atrocities of the Damascus regime supported by Moscow in a war that has lasted for eleven years, the organization denounces “a multiplication of war crimes” in Ukraine.

“There can be no neutrality”

“Our researchers on site for ten days documented the use of the same tactics as in Syria and Chechnya”, including the attack on civilians and the use of ammunition prohibited by international law, described during a conference of press in Paris, Marie Struthers, director of Amnesty Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Russia’s “insolence” to launch the attack was enabled by “an international system on its knees” and the failure of institutions, including the United Nations Security Council, to manage previous wars, says Ms Callamard, who has recalled that in times of pandemic, conflicts have continued, particularly in Ethiopia, Burma and Afghanistan.

“Faced with Russia, there can be no neutrality,” she hammered in reference to African heads of state. During the vote on a UN resolution calling for the withdrawal of Russian forces in early March, around twenty African countries abstained.

One of the voices of the continent in matters of diplomacy, the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, preaches for mediation, adopting a position “weak, not very historical and not very visionary”, regrets Ms. Callamard.


After more than two years of the coronavirus pandemic, Amnesty International also denounces in its report attacks on human rights under the pretext of combating the spread of the virus.

States have used the pandemic “as a pretext to further reduce civic space”, says the organization, which calls for the urgent lifting of restrictions which are no longer justified from a health point of view.

“All over the world, states have improperly prevented and dispersed demonstrations, sometimes under cover of regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus”, notably in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Chad, reports Amnesty.

Security forces fired live ammunition. In Eswatini or South Sudan, Internet access has been cut to abort disputes. In total, laws restricting the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly have been introduced in at least 67 of the 154 countries observed. Among them are Cambodia, Egypt, the United States, Pakistan and Turkey.


The virus has killed more than six million people since it emerged in China in late 2019, according to the WHO. With vaccination, many countries are gradually lowering sanitary measures.

“In terms of human rights, 2021 will have been mainly a vast story of betrayal and hypocrisy in the halls of power”, concludes Amnesty, in reference to vaccine inequality.

When the anti-Covid vaccination rate in Europe exceeded 70%, many countries in the South had not yet received enough to administer a first dose to their population, recalls the NGO.

Sharply criticizing “the old and cruel logic of lives that matter and those that don’t matter”, Ms. Callamard describes a year that “has served as an incubator for more inequality and instability”.

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