Middle East

UN ambassador wives in peace plea to Syria's Asma Assad

The wives of the German and British ambassadors to the UN have released a video urging Syria's first lady to help end the bloodshed in her country.

The film, posted on YouTube, asks Asma Assad to urge her husband, Bashar al-Assad, to stop violent repression.

It contrasts glamorous pictures of her lavish lifestyle with graphic images of dead and injured Syrian children.

Huberta von Voss Wittig and Sheila Lyall Grant say the video was made on their own initiative.

The four minute video is addressed directly to Mrs Assad, calling her "Asma" throughout.

It contains explicit footage of injured and dying children, and tells her "these children could all be your children".

It urges Mrs Assad to "stand up for peace", and asks "what happened to you, Asma?"

The film urges viewers to sign an online letter asking Mrs Assad to act to end the violence in Syria.

International image

Born and educated in Britain, Asma Assad has often been portrayed favourably by the Western media.

Image caption The film cuts together glamorous images of Asma Assad with graphic pictures of injured Syrian children

Before the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, Asma Assad helped to promote the international image of her husband's government and was the subject of flattering profiles in fashion magazines and newspapers.

But in February 2012 Britain's Guardian newspaper published emails which it said were from the private accounts of the Assads.

They apparently revealed the first lady shopping online for expensive designer shoes and jewellery, custom-made furniture and other luxury goods, at a time when violence inside Syria was escalating.

The UN estimates more than 9,000 people have so far died in the violence.

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