SATURDAY, 28 July marked 500 days since the start of the uprising in Syria. What started off as a peaceful demand for more freedoms, rights and democracy in the country has turned into an ugly bloodbath.
I am gravely concerned about the escalating violence in Syria which has seen well over 12,000 men, women and children killed and many more injured. We are witnessing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria.
There are some that believe we should focus on the problems facing Scotland rather than situations abroad. However, in an increasingly interconnected world, every part of the international community must play its part.
Scotland itself saw a ship off the western isles carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters heading to Syria which was thankfully prevented from its course of journey. For Russia to show leadership, it must suspend all arms transfers to Syria immediately as they could be used to commit further human rights violations and further escalate violence.
Worldwide organisations also have their part to play. The UN Security Council should impose an immediate arms embargo to stop all sales of arms to the Syrian Government, and the Syrian authorities must immediately allow full and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies, human rights organisations and international media.
They must also allow the Independent International Commission of Inquiry to enter the country to impartially investigate allegations of abuse by both sides of the conflict, and refer the situation to the International Criminal Court.
Robert F. Kennedy once spoke of the tiny ripples of hope created by speaking out against injustice. As the voice of the Scottish people grows louder against these abhorrent reactions, perhaps they can add to a current that would, as Kennedy imagined, “sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Jean Urquhart MSP
SNP list MSP for the highlands and islands