Thank you, Mr. President for convening this important discussion, which is long overdue.
As I watch this debate unfold, pictures that I saw over the weekend linger in my mind. Today I recall the images of infants and young children from the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs. They are injured, covered in bandages and terrified beyond belief. They look out at the camera with pleading eyes - desperate for help. In the only way that they know how, these children are trying to reach out to the world. They are asking the world to lend a hand.
No decent human being can ignore pictures like this. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or to what faith you belong, or what politics you preach. These pictures of helplessness in the face of death serve as a moral call to every person and every nation in the world. Nowhere is that call more clear than here at the United Nations, which was founded primarily to safeguard the principles of human rights, dignity and life.
These children in Syria are not the indiscriminate victims of a natural disaster. They are not the tragic fatalities of a famine. They are not the accidental casualties of war. They are the deliberate targets of a brutal regime that will commit any crime and cross any line to cling to power.
We all know that the consequences of inaction will be horrific. Winston Churchill once said, “the further back you look, the further forward you can see.” If you want to understand this regime’s intent, look at its track record. Exactly 30 years ago, this same government massacred ten thousand of its own people in Hama in a single campaign. Nothing has changed.
Bashar al-Assad is systematically murdering civilians. His tanks are trampling on the rights of peaceful protestors. His forces are raping and torturing men, women and children. Assad has no moral authority to govern. With every home that is destroyed by a mortar, with every youth that is struck by a sniper bullet, with every person that is tortured, the twisted moral compass of this regime comes into greater focus.
Bashar-al Assad may have been trained as an eye doctor, but in practice he only tries to blind the international community to the crimes of his regime. The international community can no longer afford to see the situation in Syria with anything less than 20/20 vision.
More than 6,000 have been killed since the uprising began. How many more innocents must die before the world acts? As the death toll rises, so does our moral obligation. Our common humanity binds us together. And these bonds are now being put to a test.
It is time for the international community to stop standing on the sidelines watching murder after murder. It is time for the voices of the victims to finally unite the voice of the world against the tyrant of Damascus. It should be obvious that Assad and his regime have no moral authority to govern. And it is high time for this organization to start doing something meaningful to stop him from killing his own people. The children of Syria - from Homs to Hama - cry out to us. Their fate is in our hands.
Thank you, Mr. President.