U.N. wives urge Syrian first lady: "Stop your husband"

UNITED NATIONS Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:25pm EDT

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma speak to the media after voting at a referendum on a new constitution at a polling station at a Syrian TV station building in Damascus February 26, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma speak to the media after voting at a referendum on a new constitution at a polling station at a Syrian TV station building in Damascus February 26, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.

Credit: Reuters/SANA

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The wives of U.N. ambassadors from Britain and Germany targeted Syria's first lady on Tuesday with an online appeal to "stop your husband" in his yearlong bid to quash a popular uprising that has left thousands dead.

The video contrasts the lavish lifestyle of 36-year-old Asma al-Assad, wife of President Bashar al-Assad and mother of three, with the images of dead and injured Syrian children.

"Stand up for peace, Asma. Speak out now. For the sake of your people. Stop your husband," asks the video. "Stop being a bystander. No one cares about your image. We care about your action."

The video (here) asks viewers to sign a petition at www.change.org demanding the London-born first lady speak out to "stop the bloodshed."

It was produced by Sheila Lyall Grant, the wife of Britain's U.N. envoy, and Huberta von Voss-Wittig, the wife of Germany's U.N. ambassador. Britain and Germany are both members of the U.N. Security Council.

"We strongly believe in Asma's responsibility as a woman, as a wife and as a mother. As the vocal female Arab leader that she used to be, as a champion of female equality, she can not hide behind her husband," Lyall Grant and Wittig said in a statement.

A former investment banker, Asma al-Assad once cultivated the image of a serious-minded woman inspired by Western values.

But she appears to have continued a life of luxury shopping during the uprising against the four-decade rule of the Assad family. E-mails exchanged with her husband, obtained by Britain's Guardian newspaper, apparently showed they were buying pop music and luxury goods on the Internet during the conflict.

The European Union has banned Asma al-Assad from traveling to the EU or shopping from European companies.

"Some women are for style and some women care for their people. Some women struggle for their image and some women struggle for their survival," says the video.

The U.N. estimates Assad's forces have killed more than 9,000 people in the uprising. Syrian authorities say foreign-backed militants have killed over 2,600 soldiers and police.

The 15-nation U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to authorize an initial deployment of 30 unarmed observers to monitor a shaky truce that started on Thursday.

(Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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Comments (2)
nubianisle wrote:
When did we start blaming spouses for their spouse’s behavior? It seems like there’s no way to say that Asma hasn’t encouraged her husband to stop violence, although it seems unlikely that he would listen if she had. The pop music anecdote doesn’t necessarily make her a Bacchean reveler. I in no way support the violence of al-Assad.

Apr 17, 2012 5:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
TomMariner wrote:
Why would she want her husband dead? Those who want Assad out have proven in the area that when a dictator is tossed out of office they either get killed or put in jail ready to be killed.

Bashar has a choice; a)live the life of Castro or the monarchs of Saudia Arabia where he is the honored head of government, living in luxury or b) give up and be dead. Hmm — tough choice.

If the other guys in Libya or Egypt, etc. had been whisked off to a neutral country with a couple of hundred of million dollars, the remaining creeps would decide that is a great retirement and give the country back to the people. Instead, in every case we end up with wars that cost billions and thousands of lives. How can we let a criminal like that go free? For the same reason you stop the Japanese cold at the end of WWII — to save lives.

How did America as a country go from the pragmatic, forgiving country that invested in building up its former enemies 70 years ago to the vengeful, generations of hate that cause wars because we are morally weak?

Apr 18, 2012 9:17am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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