EU's Ashton condemns "appalling" Syrian protester crackdown
The European Union's top foreign policy official on Saturday condemned the use of force against protesters in Syria, calling the ensuing deaths "appalling and intolerable", dpa reported.
"The Syrian authorities must immediately stop their violent response and fully respect citizens' right to peaceful demonstrations," Catherine Ashton said. "The killings are appalling and intolerable."
Activists in Syria said at least 14 people were killed on Saturday when security officials used live ammunition to disperse thousands of mourners, who were attending the funerals of earlier victims.
According to Amnesty International, 75 people had been killed Friday in Syria on the deadliest single day yet during five weeks of mass protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The recent violence against protesters has taken place despite al- Assad approving a decree that ended nearly five decades of emergency rule, which had curbed the right to assembly in Syria and given the government sweeping powers to crack down on dissidents.
But Ashton noted that the reforms would only be credible if "real improvements on the ground" followed.
"I call on the Syrian government to carry out profound political reforms, starting with the respect for basic rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law," she said. "That process can only be made possible by putting an immediate end to all repressive violence."