EU condemns use of force against protesters in Syria

Xinhua, April 24, 2011

The European Union on Saturday condemned the use of force against protesters in Syria, and called on the Syrian government to carry out "profound political reforms. "

"I condemn the use of brutal force against demonstrators across Syria, which is resulting in high numbers of victims," said Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Ashton called on the Syrian authorities to stop their violent response to the demonstration and fully respect citizens' right to peaceful demonstrations. "All those responsible for these crimes must be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions, " she said.

Ashton said the EU has noticed announcement of three decrees by the Syrian government on Thursday, related to the lifting of the state of emergency, abolition of the Higher State Security Court and a right to peaceful protests. However, credible reform can only be measured by real improvements on the ground, she said.

Large-scale anti-government protests erupted in major Syrian cities Friday. Reports said dozens of people were killed as security forces used live bullets and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.