Pretoria: South Africa remains deeply concerned about the continuing violence and deteriorating human rights situation in Syria, says Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Pretoria called on all the parties to the conflict to stop the violence and to respect as well as protect the rights of the Syrian people, Motlanthe said during a reply to questions in Parliament on Tuesday.
The conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad and those opposed to his rule has led to, according to the UN, more than 18 000 people being killed since March 2011.
Motlanthe said since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, South Africa has condemned all human rights abuses, in particular, violations of the rights of vulnerable groups, such as women and children.
“All the parties have the responsibility to protect and preserve human rights,” he said.
South Africa reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, independence unity and territorial integrity of Syria. Any political solution to resolve the conflict must reflect the will of the Syrian people and must be consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.
Motlanthe said the South African government urged all parties involved in the current conflict in Syria to engage in “a process of all-inclusive national dialogue, free of any form of violence, intimidation or outside interference…”
Meanwhile, Motlanthe said South Africa had not deployed any troops to Rwanda in the past three years as part of previous peace keeping missions in that country. The Democratic Alliance wanted details on the state of relations between South Africa and Rwanda.
He said instead, South Africa took part in a mission of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation to Rwanda and other neighbouring countries in early August this year. Motlanthe said the mission was led by Lt Gen Derick Mgwebi of the South African National Defence Force.
“The findings of the Mission were reported to the Ministerial Committee of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, and South Africa and Rwanda maintain normal and friendly diplomatic relations, and High Commissioners are currently serving in both capitals.