UN team voices concern over human rights situation in occupied Syrian Golan
4 July 2008 – A three-member United Nations team investigative team expressed concern over the human right situation in the occupied Syrian Golan, restrictions placed on family visits, the treatment of prisoners from the Golan in Israeli prisons and attempts to change Syrian Arab identity.
The three-member Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories will tomorrow wrap up its annual field visit, which took them to Egypt, Jordan and Syria beginning 23 June, in Damascus tomorrow.
In Syria, the team met with officials from the Foreign Ministry, including Vice Minister Fayssal Mekdad, as well as with representatives of UN agencies. It visited the city of Quneitra, where it held talks with the Governor of Quneitra province and six witnesses to hear about the human rights situation in the occupied Syrian Golan.
In a press release issued in Damascus, the Committee said that it was “informed by all interlocutors of the serious constraints on the right to freedom of movement, in particular the right to visit relatives in Syria and the impact such separation has on affected families.”
The team noted that it had also received reports of economic measures which impacted the human rights of those living under the occupation, including high taxes, land confiscation, limited access to water.
It also received information regarding problems pertaining to education, in particular the replacement of the Arab educational curriculum in Arab schools under occupation by Israeli curriculums.
“Witnesses and official interlocutors believed that such policies were specifically intended at altering the Syrian Arab identity of the population under occupation,” the Committee said. “The human rights of Syrian women in the occupied Golan and the impact of the occupation were emphasized as being of particular concern, including access to adequate health services and restrictions on family visits.”
Regarding the treatment of prisoners, the Committee heard complaints about harsh prison conditions and obstacles encountered by family members trying to visit prisoners.
The team's report on its field mission will be submitted to the General Assembly at its 63rd session this year.
Established by the Assembly in 1968, it comprises three Member States: Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Senegal.