EU viser en skammelig taushet overfor den blodige undertrykkelsen i Syria, sier Human Rights Watchs representant i Beirut, Hadim Noury. -Dette er en historisk sjanse til å velte et diktatur, og EU tier stille av hensyn til strategiske interesser, sier han.

Barack Obama har heller ikke vært høylytt, det er som han tror at han må gå på gummisåler i forhold til de verste diktaturene, Syria og Iran. Men lørdag kalte han nedskytingen v fredelige demonstranter for «hårreisende».

EU ofrer syrerne på alteret til utenrikspolitiske interesser, sier Houry.

EU-Syria diplomacy has up to now neglected the rights of Syrian people for the sake of strategic objectives, such as seeking al-Assad’s support for the Middle East peace process or maintaining stability in Lebanon. But the uprisings in Syria and beyond show that ordinary Arabs are better partners for any attempts to transform the region.

«It’s time for Europe to stop making faustian pacts with repressive regimes and to realign its foreign policy with its ideals,» Houry said. «These are historic events that no-one could have predicted. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a relationship with a new wave in Arab society.»

Looking more closely at Syria, he said people have «broken through the wall of fear» that maintained order.

Dette er et kortsiktig perspektiv og det er ufattelig at EU kan la en historisk sjanse gå fra seg. Det var samme handlingslammelse som fant sted da Jugoslavia revnet. EU har en tendens til å havne i etterkant av begivenhetene.

With the death count in Syria jumping up drastically, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said the EU should impose sanctions on the al-Assad regime or risk missing a historic opportunity to shape events in the Middle East.

Syrian rights activists inside the country report that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s forces killed at least 70 more people during protests on Friday (22 April), bringing the number of deaths since violence began six weeks ago to some 270.

HRW no longer has staff in Syria, but its sources speak of systematic use of live ammunition against unarmed crowds, night-time snatch squads and torture of detainees.

HRW analyst Nadim Houry told EUobserver in his office in Beirut, in neighbouring Lebanon, that the EU reaction so far – statements by foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urging restraint and public silence from EU countries’ embassies in Lebanon and Syria – is doing nothing to make al-Assad change track.

«Given the level of violence, the EU should impose targeted sanctions against key figures in the regime. Visa bans, asset freezes – no more business as usual, no more glossy spreads in Vogue about Louboutin shoes,» Houry said, referring to a recent article on al-Assad’s wife.

«He must be given a stark choice – either you keep going down the path of repression and you become an international pariah, and it will be very costly for you economically, or you make real reforms and the European Union will give you all the support you need to do that.»

He added that Ashton’s job should be to persuade Mediterranean rim EU powers – France, Italy and Spain – as well as the US and EU-aspirant Turkey to give explicit backing to the tough new line.

Houry, a 33-year-old Lebanese lawyer, said that recent events have exposed a flaw in EU foreign policy.