"Use of brute violence against ethnic and religious groups is unprecedented," ambassador says.
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GENEVA (AP) — The world’s No. 1 human rights priority should be bringing an urgent end to the gruesome conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the new head of the U.N.’s human rights office said Monday.
Zeid Raad al-Hussein, in his first speech to the Human Rights Council in Geneva after taking up his four-year post on Sept. 1, described Syria as a bloodbath. He said the Islamic State group formed from the civil war’s chaos was an unprecedented force of violence against ethnic and religious groups that would be a sham if it were to establish a true state.
"They reveal only what a Takfiri state would look like, should this movement actually try to govern in the future," Zeid said, referring to an ideology that shuns anyone who doesn’t adhere to a stringent interpretation of Islam. "It would be a harsh, mean-spirited, house of blood, where no shade would be offered, nor shelter given, to any non-Takfiri in their midst."
The veteran diplomat and campaigner for international justice also described the Islamic State group’s rampage as it seizes huge areas of land along the Syria-Iraq border to establish a self-styled caliphate as an "absolute and deliberate" affront to human rights.
"The scale of its use of brute violence against ethnic and religious groups is unprecedented," he told diplomats on the 47-nation council. "This ancient civilization has devolved into a slaughterhouse, where children are tortured in front of their parents or executed in public."
Zeid, the first U.N. human rights chief from the Muslim and Arab worlds, also told the council at least 3,000 people have been killed since mid-April in Ukraine. His office later explained that the death toll, now at 3,027, represents an update from its previous count and includes the 298 killed in the Malaysia Airlines crash.