Two Michigan Congressmen call for Syria sanctions

Apr 28, 2011

Two Michigan Congressmen are urging President Obama to renew—and strengthen—sanctions against the Syrian government. Livonia Republican Thaddeus McCotter and Detroit Democrat Hansen Clarke say they both support renewing targeted sanctions that lapse next month. Both Congressmen also support strengthening those measures to include freezing Syrian officials’ U.S. assets, and prohibiting business with American companies. Both say the sanctions should also be extended President Bashar Al-Assad’s, and other top official’s, families. Clarke says if the U.S. takes the lead on the issue, the European Union and other countries will follow.

“Our goal is this: to create universal condemnation of what the Assad family, is doing, isolating Syria, and forcing them out of power.”

Syrian government forces have killed an estimated 450 civilians since anti-government protests began about six weeks ago. But advocates like the Syrian American Council say that with media blackouts and many Syrians afraid to speak out, it’s hard to know the true extent of the government crackdown. Lena Masri is with the Michigan Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“We’ve tried to get information from our family, from what’s going on. People believe that phone lines are tapped, that the government is watching them if they report anything they might be the next victims.”

Metro Detroit is home to one of the nation’s largest Syrian communities and a chapter of the Syrian American Council, which is helping organize resistance against the Assad regime.