Procedure : 2011/2756(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B7-0446/2011

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 06/07/2011 - 12
CRE 06/07/2011 - 12

Votes :

PV 07/07/2011 - 7.2

Texts adopted :


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See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0389/2011

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure

on Syria, Yemen and Bahrain the context of the situation in the Arab World and North Africa

Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Ivo Vajgl, Marielle De Sarnez, Marietje Schaake, Sonia Alfano, Niccolò Rinaldi, Louis Michel, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Anneli Jäätteenmäki, Frédérique Ries on behalf of the ALDE Group

European Parliament resolution on Syria, Yemen and Bahrain the context of the situation in the Arab World and North Africa  

The European Parliament,

–       having regard to its previous resolutions, in particular its resolution on the situation on Syria, Bahrain and Yemen of 7 April 2011,

–       having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966, to which Syria, Bahrain and Yemen are parties,

–       having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1975, to which Syria, Bahrain and Yemen are parties,

–       having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders of 2004 as updated in 2008 as well as its EU Guidelines on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, of 2001 and reviewed in 2008,

–       having regard to the conclusions of the European Councils of 11 March 2011, 25 March 2011, and 23 and 24 June 2011,

–       having regard to its report on European Union relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council of 24 March 2011,

–       having regard to the statements of the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission on restrictive measures against Syria of 9 May and of 9 June 2011 and on the ongoing violence and the necessity for credible reforms in Syria of 6 June 2001, and on Yemen of 11 May 2011, 31 May 2011 and 3 June 2011,

–       having regard to the statement of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on the sentences against 21 Bahraini political activists, human rights defenders and opposition leaders of 23 June 2011,

–       having regard to the Joint Communication by the High Representative and the Commission on ‘A new response to a changing Neighbourhood’ of 25th May which complements the Joint Communication on ‘A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean’ of 8 March 2011,

–       having regard to its resolution on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy – Southern Dimension of 7 April 2011,

–       having regard to the decision of 7 June 2011 by the High Representative Catherine Ashton to set up a Task Force for the Southern Mediterranean,

–       having regard to the Council conclusions on Syria and on Yemen of 20 June 2011, and the remarks by High Representative Catherine after the Foreign Affairs Council,

–       having regard to the UN Security Council statement of 24 June 2011 ahead of a visit of representatives from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressing ‘grave concern on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Yemen’ and ‘urged all parties to show maximum restraint and to engage in an inclusive political dialogue’,


–       having regard to the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for Libyan leader Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi (Gaddafi), Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from 15 February 2011 until at least 28 February 2011, through the State apparatus and Security Forces,

       having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

On the Arab World

A.  whereas the death on 4 January 2011 of the Tunisian street vendor Tareq al-Tayyib Muhammad Bouazizi was a catalyst for a popular and peaceful revolution in Tunisia; whereas the revolution in Tunisia inspired another popular and peaceful revolution in Egypt,


B.  whereas also in Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Algeria and Morocco, peaceful demonstrators are expressing their calls for freedom, human dignity, their legitimate democratic aspirations and strong popular demand for political, economic and social reforms aimed at achieving genuine democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular freedom of expression, reducing social inequalities and creating better economic and social conditions; whereas many peaceful demonstrations throughout the region were cracked down on by the use of brutal and lethal force and large-scale unlawful detentions, in particular in Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen,


C.  whereas on 17 June 2011 women in Saudi Arabia have been openly driving cars in defiance of an official ban on female drivers,


D.  whereas the European Union’s response to the changes in the Arab world, in particular regarding the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya has been slow and at times hesitant in unequivocally supporting the people’s legitimate demands, thereby negatively affecting the credibility of the European Union,


E.  whereas more than three months after the adoption of the UNSCRs 1970 and 1973, the Gaddafi regime remains in constant breach of its responsibility to protect Libyan citizens; whereas the European Union has still not recognized the Libyan Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, whereas the European Union did establish a representation in Benghazi as well as promoted contacts with the Transitional National Council; whereas the European Union is working closely with the UN Special Envoy for Libya as the focal point for the political transition process,


F.  whereas the European Union has engaged in coordination with the UN, the World Bank and other actors, notably regional organizations in mobilising its resources to support the political transition in Egypt, Tunisia and the security situation in Libya,


G.  whereas the European Commission has proposed to unlock increased financial support of up to EUR 1.242 billion to address urgent needs and to respond to the new challenges and transformations underway in the European Union’s Southern Neighbourhood; whereas two arms of the budgetary authority still have not reached a final decision on this proposal,


H.  whereas the revised European Neighbourhood Policy foresees in the establishment of a European Endowment for Democracy to support the development and functioning of deep and sustainable democracy in the European neighbourhood; whereas the initial measures of support from the European Union must be followed up through the implementation of the proposals made over next years. Underlines in this respect that the new European Union’s engagements with the Arab World and the Southern Mediterranean must be duly reflected in the next multiannual financial framework,

I.  whereas the forthcoming democratic elections in Tunisia and Egypt represent the first important step in the transition process towards democracy,

On Syria:

J.  whereas since the beginning of the crackdown on peaceful demonstrations in March 2011, the systematic, brutal and lethal violence has not subsided and security forces have responded to the continuing protests with killing more than 400 civilians in the governorate of Daraa alone, and more than 1500 across Syria,

K.  whereas human rights organisations have received information indicating that Syrian security forces have committed systematic killings of protesters notably in Daraa; whereas the detained demonstrators were subjected to torture and inhumane treatment; whereas more than 3000 cases of forced disappearances and 11.000 cases of arbitrary detention have already been documented,

L.  whereas after the siege imposed in Daraa, security forces launched a full-scale military operation and campaign of arbitrary arrests in Daraa's neighbouring towns; whereas an estimated 12,000 Syrians from Jisr al-Shughour and surrounding areas have crossed the Syrian-Turkish border fearing reprisals by the security forces; whereas Turkey has voluntarily offered large-scale humanitarian assistance and aid to Syrian refugees at the Turkey-Syria border, whereas Turkey has expressed great concern over Syria’s deployment of troops and tanks near its border; whereas members of the Syrian army and security have defected and sought refugee in Turkey as well,

M.  whereas the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was not allowed to deploy staff on the ground in Syria to investigate alleged violations of international human rights law and to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations, with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring full accountability as requested by the resolution adopted by the UNHRC of 29 April 2011,

N.  whereas Secretary General Ban Ki-moon renewed calls for Syria to allow fact-findings and humanitarian missions to investigate disputed events during the months of anti-government protests; whereas only few international journalists where granted permission to enter the country under government scrutiny; whereas the Syrian authorities regularly and systematically shut down and attack the internet and other communication networks, whereas the Syrian authorities have used online social networks to track, trace down and detain journalists, bloggers and demonstrators; whereas the Arab League issued a condemnation of Syria's violence on 14 June 2011 and underlined that Arab states are actively monitoring the crisis in Syria,

O.  whereas following the decision by the European Council of 23 June 2011 to extend sanctions against Syrian officials and businessmen responsible for the ongoing violence, and to impose sanctions also on Iranian officials because of their involvement in the violence in Syria, the Syrian Foreign Affairs Minister has declared that Syria will withdraw its membership in Euro-Mediterranean co-operation,

On Yemen:

P.  whereas millions of citizens have been demonstrating largely peacefully in Yemen since January 2011, whereas hundreds of peaceful protestors have since been killed mainly by the security forces while hundreds have been wounded; whereas numerous military commanders, ambassadors, ministers and other officials declared their support for the protesters,

Q.  whereas for the first time in history, women have come out in unprecedented numbers during the public uprising in defiance of President Saleh's condemnation of women’s participation in the opposition rallies in April 2011, saying that by mixing with men on the street who were not direct relatives, the women were violating traditional Yemeni cultural norms,

R.  whereas the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) has initiated a plan for peaceful transition of power which has not yet been implemented by all sides, both the President Saleh and the opposition,

S.  whereas President Saleh has left the country to receive medical treatment in Saudi Arabia; whereas Saleh regime remains in charge of the military actions against the demonstrators,

On Bahrain:

T.  whereas on 22 June 2011 a military court in Bahrain sentenced 8 opposition activists to life in prison, including prominent human rights defenders Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Hasan Mushaima and Abduljalil al-Singace, and 13 received jail sentences of up to 15 years for ‘plotting to topple the government’; whereas peaceful protesters were killed or faced brutal violence during pro-reform demonstrations; whereas many political activists, human rights defenders, journalists and doctors remain in detention since the peaceful pro-reform protests, whereas according to human rights organizations detainees have been tortured, ill-treated and harassed,

U.  Recalling that the World Medical Association’s International Code of Medical Ethics and its Medical Ethics Manual define the duties of physicians as including the administration of emergency care and adhering to principles of non-discrimination, as well as the fact that Governments should not infringe upon the duties of medical professionals and should not target or punish those who seek to uphold these internationally recognized principles,

V.  whereas 47 Bahraini doctors and nurses were accused for ‘incitement to overthrow the regime by force’ for treating injured peaceful protesters and faced trial by Bahraini military court; whereas the medical professionals acted under professional duty and treated injured people; whereas doctors and nurses were violently kept off treating injured peaceful protestors, also with death resulting; whereas during the pro reform demonstrations access to hospitals was blocked and patients were tortured inside hospitals, in particular in the Salmaniya Medical Complex,

W.  whereas a consultation for national dialogue was launched under the initiative of King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa,

X.  whereas following the request of the Bahraini government, foreign forces under the banner of the GCC have been deployed in Bahrain, notably at least 4000 troops from Saudi Arabia,


Arab World:


1.  Welcomes the decisions which are currently being taken in first steps towards a democratic transformation:


 the adoption of the interim Constitution in Egypt by referendum;

 the progress made in opening up the democratic process, with more than 70 parties participating in the elections in Tunisia;

 the ratification by Tunisia of the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court on 24 June 2011,

 the announcement of the main elements of a new Constitution in Morocco; and its approval by a large majority in a referendum in which a significantly large proportion of the Moroccan voters participated;

 the renewed commitment to political reforms, including a review of the Constitution, in Jordan;

 the lifting of the state of emergency and planned constitutional reform in Algeria;


2.  Fully endorses the Council conclusions on the European Neighbourhood Policy as adopted on 20 June 2011; expects the European Commission to implement the new Neighbourhood Policy, in full consultation with the European Parliament, as soon as possible in order to show the European Union’s true commitment for democratic and economic transition for the people in its neighbourhood;


3.  Reiterates its call to Gaddafi to relinquish power immediately; recognizes the Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, strongly supports the military actions as carried out by NATO and GCC members to provide maximum security for the Libyan people, strongly supports Libya's future road to democracy;


4.  Notes that the events in the Arab region have made it clear that the European Union should have relations with the people instead of ruling elites, let alone dictators; in order to become a credible player;


5.  Underlines that enhanced European Union’s engagement with the Southern Neighbourhood countries concerned should be made conditional upon the improvement of respect for human rights, democratic governance and the rule of law, stresses that the European Unions renewed commitment must be reflected in increased and better targeted conditional financial support, the so-called ‘more for more’ and ‘less for less’ approach, true perspectives of unrestricted market access and future market integration with the European Union and enhanced mobility strategies, including lifting visa restrictions, which should not only be dictated by concerns over illegal migration, but should be aimed at improved people-to-people contacts;


6.  Calls on the Commission to make full and effective use of the existing financial support given through the ENPI, EIDHR and IfS;

7.  Calls for a timely establishment of European Endowment for Democracy (EED) if its added value and necessity has been duly proven; expects this possible new tool to act in coherence with existing instruments and structures and it should be beneficial to democracy and human rights in the Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood; calls on the Commission and the Council to swiftly explore the added value of an European Endowment for Democracy and subsequently to come up with concrete proposals of its design and working in close co-ordination with the European Parliament;

8.  Supports the reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy with its objectives to further support democratic transformation and civil society in response to the current historic developments in the region; calls for the European Union full support and assistance for the democratic processes in the Mediterranean and Gulf regions and to ensure the full participation of all citizens – particularly women, who have played a crucial role in the demands for democratic change – in political life;

9.  Calls on the European Union and its Member States to monitor and safeguard the people’s freedom of expression and freedom of the press, both offline as online, as free access to information, communication and uncensored access to the internet (internet freedom) are universal rights and indispensable for ensuring transparency and accountability in public life;

10.  Calls on the European Union and its Member States to align their policies towards Southern Mediterranean countries in order to respect the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports;

11.  Calls on the European Commission and European Council to follow a case-by-case approach with regards to Southern Mediterranean countries, whereas a real progress on democracy, free and fair elections and above all human rights should be rewarded; considers it necessary that the European Union declares its readiness in due time to qualitatively upgrade the relationship with Egypt and Tunisia, in particular through deeper economic cooperation, in order to demonstrate European commitment to democratic transformation in these countries;

12.  Calls on the European Commission to address the humanitarian needs of the TNC in Libya with utmost urgency and attention;

On Syria:

13.  Condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of massive lethal and brutal violence against peaceful protesters, including the humanitarian effects of the siege imposed on a number of cities such as Daraa and Jisr al-Shughour; expresses its strongest condemnation at the seriousness and number of human rights violations perpetrated by Syrian authorities, including extrajudicial killings, large-scale arbitrary detention, disappearances and grave torture, in particular of young children and women;


14.  Considers that these widespread and systematic violations of Syria's obligations under the international human rights law may amount to crimes against humanity; in this context strongly supports all efforts undertaken by the OHCHR to investigate all alleged human rights violations perpetrated by Syrian security forces in order to hold those responsible for the violence to account and calls on Syrian authorities to provide full cooperation and unhindered access to the office of the High Commissioner and to other UN mechanisms;


15.  Calls on the HR/VP to explicitly state that President Bashar al-Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern the Syrian people;


16.  Calls on the HR/VP and European Union Member States to continue working with international partners for a condemnation by the UN Security Council of the ongoing repression in Syria and for the enforcement by Syrian authorities of its responsibility to protect the Syrian population; considers that the United Nations Security Council should refer an investigation into the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the aim to bring justice to Syrian population and preventing more victims; calls upon the HR/VP to explicitly call for such a referral;


17.  Calls on the UN Secretary General to immediately appoint a special envoy on Syria and demands that he be allowed unimpeded access throughout the country with the mandate to report back to the UN Security Council and to ask the UNSC to take appropriate measures;


18.  Urges the Syrian authorities to immediately halt the use of excessive force against protesters and calls for the immediate release of all detained peaceful demonstrators, journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and political prisoners who remain in detention despite the recent amnesty announced by President Al-Assad; calls on the Syrian authorities to allow immediate and unhindered access to independent and international media;


19.  Deplores the fact that Syrian authorities have failed to respond to the calls to immediately stop the violence, to fulfil their commitments and to engage in meaningful reforms;


20.  Emphasizes that a transition process towards democratic governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law should be based on a credible and inclusive dialogue involving all democratic forces and civil society actors with the view of launching deep democratic reforms, including the lifting of the Emergency Law, the end of the monopoly of the Bath party over the Syrian society and the possibility to organise free and fair elections;


21.  Expresses its firm support for the struggle of the Syrian people for democratic reforms and the end of the authoritarian regime; calls in this regard on the HR/VP, the Council and the Commission to support opposition forces, including those such as the National Coalition, voicing the expectations and requests to support the Syrian revolution;


22.  Considers that the ongoing brutal repression in Syria constitutes a real threat to both internal and regional stability and that this situation is affecting neighbouring countries; notes with grave concern the reports of army activities at the borders and of the thousands of people displaced to Turkey an Lebanon due to the violence in Syria; urges the Syrian authorities to allow immediate and unconditional access by humanitarian agencies to all affected areas;


23.  Commends the Turkish policy to maintain open borders for Syrian refugees, as well as the support and reception activities that have been rapidly organized with the mobilization of the Red Crescent’s resources in the region of Hatay; stresses the necessity on the part of the Turkey, with the assistance of the UNHCR and the Red Crescent, to provide people fleeing from Syria with basic services without discrimination based on ethnic origin, religion or similar grounds;


24.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to immediately provide support to the Turkish and Lebanese authorities in their efforts to manage the humanitarian crisis at their borders with Syria;


25.  Notes the mediation role played by Turkish authorities vis-à-vis Syrian leadership in trying to stop the escalation of violence and to engage in a political dialogue leading to credible reforms; calls in this context on the Council, the Commission and Turkey to jointly cooperate to find a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the Syrian crackdown;




26.  Is concerned about the situation in Yemen and urges all parties to stop violence, respect human rights and abide by a permanent cease-fire; reiterates the urgency of an orderly and inclusive transition in line with the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative;


27.  Calls on President Saleh to ‘transfer power peacefully through constitutional institutions; calls on the Council to consider sanctioning President Saleh's regime should the transition of power be protracted or fail to take effect; calls on all parties, including the opposition, to act responsibly, to engage in constructive dialogue without delay, in order to achieve a political transition, and to include all parties and movements representing the Yemeni people in this dialogue;


28.  Calls on the Council to immediately agree a set of sanctions against the Saleh regime that continues to violently suppress popular uprising in Yemen;


29.  Emphasizes the importance of proceeding with an orderly and inclusive political transition in Yemen in line with the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, to respond to the legitimate interests of all Yemen’s people;


30.  Underlines its serious concern at the impact of the current political impasse on the humanitarian situation in Yemen, including the internal displacement of many thousands as a result of fighting;


31.  Welcomes the announced mission of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and encourages the Government of Yemen to ensure the free and unhindered access to the country that they have promised to grant the mission; welcomes the cross regional statement on Yemen by the Human Rights Council and looks forward to a dialogue during its 18th session;


32.  Fully supports other international partners, in providing assistance and necessary political support for the implementation of Yemen’s transition;


On Bahrain:


33.  Calls on the Bahraini authorities to commute the death sentences of Ali ‘Abdullah Hassan al-Sankis and ‘Abdulaziz ‘Abdulridha Ibrahim Hussain; calls on the Bahraini authorities to reinstate the de facto moratorium on capital punishment;


34.  Urges for the immediate and unconditional release of all peaceful demonstrators including political activists, journalists and human rights defenders and of the 47 Bahraini doctors and nurses who were illegally detained while carrying out their professional duty, as enshrined in the Geneva Convention; expresses its strong concern on the life sentences of 8 opposition activists and 13 who received up to 15 years in prison;


35.  Urges for the immediate and unconditional release of all peaceful demonstrators including political activists, journalists and human rights defenders, among which Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Hasan Mushaima and Abduljalil al-Singace and of the 47 Bahraini doctors and nurses who were under their professional duty; condemns the conviction of the 21 civilians before a military court; expresses its strong concern on the life sentences of 8 opposition activists and 13 who received up to 15 years in prison as well as on the reported abuse in detention, lack of access to legal counsel and coerced confessions; stresses that the Government of Bahrain must attempt to restore trust as a vital pre-condition for for a fair, inclusive and meaningful national dialogue;


36.  Takes note of the decision taken by the King of Bahrain, on 29 June 201,  on establishing an Independent Commission to investigate and report on the events which occurred in Bahrain in February/March 2011; looks forward to the Commission's final report to be submitted by the end of October 2011;


37.  Strongly supports King Hamad's decision to lift the state of emergency in Bahrain on 1 June and calls it to be fully respected, to refrain from the use of violence against demonstrators, to respect their freedom of assembly and expression, and to guarantee their security;


38.  Reiterates its call for the immediate withdrawal of the foreign troops from Bahrain;


39.  Urges the government of Bahrain to guarantee full respect for the freedom of religion in the country;


40.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Member Countries of the Maghreb and Mashreq delegations and of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the UN Human Rights Council.


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