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Syria's Assad: 'We Don't Kill Our People'
Originally published on Wed December 7, 2011 7:35 am
"We don't kill our people ... no government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person."
So says Syrian President Bashar Assad to ABC News Barbara Walters in an interview that's airing across several of the network's shows today.
Pushing back against reports from the United Nations and witnesses in several Syrian cities, Assad denied that his security forces have killed thousands of civilians.
"Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government, not the vice versa," he told Walters.
Assad also denied that 13-year-old Hamza Ali al-Khateeb — whose death galvanized the protest movement in Syria because of evidence that he had been tortured and castrated by security forces — was subjected to such treatment. "No, no, no. It's not news," Assad said. "I met with his father, the father of that child and he said that he wasn't tortured as he appeared in the media."
For a much different take on what's been happening in Syria, check the website of the United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
"Since March of this year, more than 4,000 people have reportedly been killed," Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay reported last Friday. "Tens of thousands have been arrested. And more than 14,000 are reported to be in detention as a result of the crackdown."
And she added that the commission has documented "widespread, systematic and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by Syrian authorities by acts such as: killing of children by beating or shooting during demonstrations, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment."
On Morning Edition today, NPR's Deborah Amos reported about sectarian violence in the Syrian city of Homs and NPR's Kelly McEvers reported about a nighttime trip she made into Syria with members of the anti-regime Free Syrian Army.