Støre calls Israel’s retention of PA tax after breach of Oslo accords “water boarding of economy”, but is mum on Syria torture

Our FM Støre made head lines around the world last week, when he accused Israel of water boarding the PA economy in response to the PA’s unilateral actions at the UN, in contravention of the Oslo agreement.

Yesterday, a UN report concluded that

The substantial body of evidence gathered by the commission indicates that these gross violations of human rights have been committed by Syrian military and security forces since the beginning of the protests in March 2011. The commission is gravely concerned that crimes against humanity have been committed in different locations in the Syrian Arab Republic during the period under review.

The report also highlighted the situation of children:

Violations of children’s rights

69. The information collected indicates that children have suffered serious violations and that State forces have shown little or no recognition of the rights of children in the actions taken to quell dissent.

70. Witnesses informed the commission that children (mostly boys) were killed or injured by beatings or shooting during demonstrations in several locations across the country, including Sayda, Dar’a, Idlib, Hama, Homs, Sarmeen Al Ladhiqiyah and Dayr Az Zawr. Reliable sources indicated that 256 children had been killed by State forces as at 9 November. The commission spoke with several children who had witnessed the killing of adults and of other children, and also met a 2-year-old girl whose mother was killed by the Syrian military in August while trying to cross the border. The commission saw several children whose mental health was seriously affected by their traumatic experience.

71. One military defector stated that he decided to defect after witnessing the shooting of a 2-year-old girl in Al Ladhiqiyah on 13 August by an officer who affirmed that he did not want her to grow into a demonstrator. A 15-year-old boy interviewed was shot in the leg in Homs on 15 August while returning home from the mosque. The neighbours tried to take him to hospital, but checkpoints by security forces blocked access to it.

72. Numerous accounts from former detainees indicated the presence of children, some younger than 10, in detention centres in various locations run by the military and security forces. Torture was reportedly applied equally to adults and children. Several former detainees informed the commission that young boys were tortured at the Air Force Intelligence detention facilities in and around Damascus, in intelligence detention facilities in Tartus and in Political Security and Military Intelligence detention facilities in Al Ladhiqiyah and Idlib. One defector stated that “people had their feet and hands bound with plastic handcuffs. They were beaten mercilessly, including 10-year-old children. Some children urinated out of fear while they were being beaten. It was very cruel.”

73. Numerous testimonies indicated that boys were subjected to sexual torture in places of detention in front of adult men.

74. The commission received many reports on the use of schools as detention facilities and on the deployment of snipers on the roofs of schools. Several children expressed concerns that they were prevented from continuing their education.


Meanwhile, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has on no account taken the opportunity to condemn Syria in such unprecedented ways as it has attacked Israel.

Støre is not condemning Syria for “water boarding” (in the most literal sense) Syrian children or Syrian opposition groups for that matter, but has in fairness issued a statement in support of the Arab league decision to impose sanctions on Syria (unauthorized translation of statement from MFA official site, statement only available in Norwegian):

- Norway welcomes the important work of the Arab League is doing to stop the violence in Syria. A historic decision on Sunday to impose sanctions shows that the region has lost confidence in the Assad regime, says Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

The decision to impose sanctions as a result of Syria failing to comply with the League’s peace plan for the country. The sanctions will include travel bans,freezing of assets and interruption of financial transactions and trade in certain goods with Syria. The measures are designed to exert pressure on the Syrian authorities, not on its population. The League is also considering an option to stop flights to and from Syria.

- The League’s decision shows that the countries in the region have joined in the international community’s condemnation of Syrian government policy. It is our hope that pressure from the Arab people in the region and the comprehensive sanctions under the auspices of the Arab League, the U.S. and EU - which Norway supports fully - will contribute to a Syrian change of course, says the Minister.

Minister of Education, Kristin Halvorsen is not participating in demonstrations, and leftwing peace lovers have not organized rallies or “peace” marches in support of the Syrian population.

None of the Norwegian unions or humanitarian organizations (for instance the Norwegian Peoples Aid) have posted condemnations of Syrian crimes against humanity on their web sites, and the leadership of the Norwegian Red Cross has so far not called for investigation of Norwegians of Syrian descent who may have participated in human rights breaches in Syria or committed torture against Syrians (they did call for such an investigation of Norwegian Jews during the Gaza conflict).

The Norwegian Church Aid has not organized any ecumenical accompaniment program for Christians in Syria (not even for Syrian Muslims or any Syrian for that matter), while authors like Jostein Gaarder and Erling Loe (the one who delivered a “peace” speech to the Oslo mob while a Hizballah flag was flapping in his face) seem to suffer from some acute form of writers block.

The painter Håkon Gullvåg has not painted any pictures of Syrian victims of state torture, but he may still have good friends in Damascus whom he does not wish to upset.

This reminds me of the famous words of former Norwegian Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland: It is typically Norwegian to be good.

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