This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Plenary speech on Syria, in particular the case of Rafah Nached

Mr President, Rafah Nached gives a face to the people behind the numbers, reflecting the cost of the unspeakable violence and injustice in Syria. We are all eyewitnesses to what is happening. On the Internet we can see the disproportionate, government-led violence against unarmed citizens. We can see the brave demonstrators defying fear and risking their lives to get stories out. Holding a cell phone can be a reason to be shot by a sniper. Women are being raped and children tortured and mutilated. Parents who receive the bodies of their murdered children hide them and bury them in secret because the government also attacks funerals. I am speechless and furious at the same time. Bashar al-Assad’s government and his collaborators have no legitimacy whatsoever. The international community lacks a UN mandate because China and Russia object to a UN Security Council resolution, but the EU can, and must, do more. Firstly, we must call for an international criminal court investigation into the crimes committed and, secondly, we must demand targeted sanctions for those who violate human rights. We are Syria’s most important trading partner and therefore we need to apply targeted sanctions to the economic elites and give them a clear choice: doing business with Europe means doing no business with Bashar al-Assad. We must also make sure that EU-made ICT products that censor and spy on Syrians do not end up in the hands of the repressors, because that is continuing to happen. We must continue, with Turkey, to end the unspeakable violence in Syria.