Syria is a country in the Middle East.
Many Syrians have been protesting against its government, which has been accused of doing terrible things to its own people. The leader of Syria is President Bashar al-Assad.
The fighting between the Syrian government and its opponents this year has been intense and very violent.
Many Syrians want al-Assad to step down as leader. They want to be able to elect a new leader. (Bashar al-Assad’s family has ruled Syria for more than 40 years.)
On Feb. 26 the Syrian government held a special vote. The vote was to see if people would agree or disagree with a new constitution. The constitution would let al-Assad rule for another 16 years.
On Monday, the Syrian government said the people voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new constitution. The Syrian government said the people want to keep al-Assad in power.
However, critics of Syria’s government say that is clearly not the case. The Syrian government “controlled the voting and the count… and the opposition mostly boycotted the balloting,” the New York Times reported. In other words, the outcome of the vote likely does not reflect the will of the Syrian people.
Some countries—like China, Russia and Iran—are supporting al-Assad and his government.
Many Western countries—including Canada and the U.S.—as well as the United Nations, want al-Assad to step down.
Stephen Lewis is the former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations. He wants Russia and China to agree with a UN plan that would stop the fighting in Syria.
He says that unless Russia and China stop supporting al-Assad’s government, the fighting in Syria will not stop. Russia and China both have reasons for wanting to support al-Assad’s government; maintaining their good relationship with Syria may give them more power politically.
Lewis said that, “thousands of Syrians are about to be sacrificed” because of China’s and Russia’s friendship with the al-Assad government.
By “sacrificed” he means that Syrians will die unnecessarily because countries will not put human rights first—ahead of money and power.
Related Links: Syria has been a big part of the “Arab Spring” protests. The Arab Spring happened when many people in some Arab countries protested against their governments.