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UN wives appeal to Syrian first lady

18 April 2012, 10:43

 New York - The wives of UN 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  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 UN envoy, and Huberta von Voss-Wittig, the wife of Germany's UN ambassador. Britain and Germany are both members of the UN 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 travelling 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 UN 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 UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to authorise an initial deployment of 30 unarmed observers to monitor a shaky truce that started on Thursday. 

- Reuters


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