"Press: Do not swallow"

The Western and Gulf media have long had the habit of using the expression “international community” to designate groups of states led by the United States to the exclusion of others. One reads with regard to Syria, for example, that “Russia and China oppose the international community” (sic).

The next phase of disinformation has been to include in all press releases the phrase, “The repression has caused more than 10,000 deaths according to the U.N.” Yet the United Nations itself never advanced these figures. They were issued by certain experts in its employ, from the High Commission on Human Rights or the Human Rights Council, specifically. If the U.N. had validated these reports, the Security Council itself would have authorized international intervention. Only the General Assembly and secondarily the Security Council can speak in the name of the United Nations.

The media outlets of the West and Gulf continue to distort the position of Russia, accusing it of being contradictory because, according to them, Moscow has blamed the Syrian opposition for the massacre in Houla when the day before Russia had adopted the Security Council President’s declaration recognizing the responsibility of the Syrian state in the matter.
This requires some textual explication.

The fact of condemning the Houla massacre does not mean that the Syrian government stands accused of guilt for having carried it out. The government of Damascas was the first to condemn the atrocities, which it claimed were committed by the armed opposition. A demonstration against the crimes of armed groups was immediately organized in the capital by pro-Assad forces. Currently all the protagonists have condemned the massacre which no one has claimed responsibility for.

The fact of affirming that the Syrian government is responsible for the massacre does not mean accusing it of being guilty of having committed it. By virtue of the principle of national independence and sovereignty, a government is responsible for all that happens on its territory. Affirming this responsibility is the recognition of its prerogatives in terms of responding to the event. The Security Council proposal signifies the exact inverse of what the media would have us believe: it affirms that the Syrian government has the duty to intervene to protect its own population and that the use of force is thereby legitimate.

Urging the Syrian government not use heavy armaments in populated zones by virtue of Resolutions 2042 and 2043 neither signifies that it is thereby responsible for committing massacres in these zones nor that it is prohibited to act to repress the crimes of the armed opposition, but rather that it is called on to employ a proportional use of force. The Security Council construes that the disturbances to public order are to be treated as police problems and not as a civil war. It expects, henceforth, that Syrian authorities will establish order without using artillery—which inevitably creates collateral victims—even if the rebels are themselves employing heavy weaponry.

The declarations of the Security Council are the outcome of a consensus among the great powers. The vocabulary used should be understood in the strictest sense. Any other interpretation is actively distorting. The Council did not validate the allegations of the High Commission of Human Rights accusing the government of having killed 10,000 peaceful demonstrators in one year. The Council did not attribute guilt for the Houla massacre to the Syrian government. Russia did not vary its position.

Michele Stoddard

Don’t let the media distort reality: write to journalists who report the positions of the UN incorrectly and urge them to correct their articles. Interact with media Internet forums to correct truncated or incorrect citations.