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Syria should halt violence: France

(AFP) / 23 April 2011

PARIS — France urged Syrian authorities on Friday to halt their use of violence on anti-government protestors after police shot dead more than 70 people taking part in nationwide demonstrations.

The authorities should “renounce the use of violence against their citizens,” a foreign ministry statement said.

Deputy spokeswoman Christine Fages said: “We call on them once more to engage in an inclusive political dialogue without delay and to put into place reforms that respond to the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.

“France is extremely concerned by the situation in Syria... and condemns the violence. Light should be shed on these crimes and those responsible must be identified, arrested and brought to justice,” she added.

She also called for the release of those arrested and for respecting basic rights, including media freedom and the right to hold peaceful demonstrations.

A day after President Bashar Al Assad scrapped decades of emergency rule, his forces used live ammunition against demonstrators in several towns and cities nationwide, witnesses and activists said by telephone.

Friday’s death toll was one of the bloodiest in protests for democratic change — the first since emergency rule was imposed by the ruling Baath Party when it seized power in 1963.



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