Press Release — HRF Calls for R2P After Assad Gasses Civilians, Again


NEW YORK — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the latest wave of crimes against humanity perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad’s regime — this time against the civilian population in the northwestern province of Idlib, Syria. According to multiple news reports, approximately 72 people, including 20 children, have been killed after either Syrian or Russian warplanes conducted airstrikes against rebel-held positions with a toxic agent believed to be sarin or chlorine. This chemical attack would be the largest and deadliest in Syria since August 2013, when more than 1,000 people were killed with sarin in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta by Assad’s forces.

“More than half a century after the Holocaust and decades after mass atrocities in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Rwanda, North Korea, and Darfur, an international legal doctrine named ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) emerged to address the same crimes committed by Assad yesterday. This principle compels the international community to use diplomatic, legal, economic, and as a last resort, military actions to stop mass atrocities and protect the citizens of any nation,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen.

Last year, the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic — a group of experts established in 2011 by the U.N. Human Rights Council — published a report concluding that the Assad regime has committed “crimes against humanity of extermination, murder, rape or other forms of sexual violence, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearance and other inhuman acts.”

“The authoritarian governments of Russia and China, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, have been indifferent to the suffering of the Syrian people and have systematically used their veto power to block efforts to invoke R2P. We in the international community will not be silent until Assad and his thugs are finally brought to justice and the worst mass atrocities of this century come to an end,” said Halvorssen.

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.

Contact: Prachi Vidwans, (212) 246-8486,


Middle East