Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced concern after the latest outbreak of violence in Syria, where it is reported that both protesters and security personnel were killed during demonstrations in the southern city of Deraa.
Mr. Ban spoke by telephone yesterday with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, telling him he was “greatly disturbed” by the latest reports following the demonstrations in Deraa and other cities on Friday.
The protests were the latest in a series of demonstrations against the rule of Mr. Assad, and part of a broader pro-democracy movement across North Africa and the Middle East that has led to the downfall of long-standing regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.
The Secretary-General told Mr. Assad that the killing of peaceful demonstrators was unacceptable and should be investigated, according to information released by his spokesperson. He noted that Mr. Assad intends to launch an inquiry and encouraged him to move quickly on this front.
Noting reports that some demonstrators had also used violence and killed security personnel, Mr. Ban said violence from any side should be deplored.
He reiterated that every government has a duty to protect civilians and respect the rights and freedoms of the population, including free speech and peaceful assembly. Protesters should also be peaceful, he said.
Mr. Ban urged Mr. Assad to release the demonstrators who have been detained, and stressed that there was no alternative “to an immediate and inclusive dialogue on comprehensive reforms” in Syria.