UN wives urge Assad wife to 'stand up for peace'
NOTE: This video contains disturbing images
An online video produced by the wives of two UN ambassadors is urging Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's wife to "stop being a bystander" and do more to push her husband toward peace.
Asma Assad has stood beside her husband throughout a 13-month conflict that the UN says has left more than 9,000 people dead.
The video, produced by the wives of German and British ambassadors to the UN, calls on the British-born Assad to do more to push for peace in Syria, where fresh reports of conflict and shelling in the flashpoint city of Homs have left a ceasefire plan teetering.
"This is a letter to Asma al-Assad, signed by women all over the world," a woman's voice says in the video.
The opening shots show the stylishly dressed Assad, and then flashes forward to images of Syrian women protesting, and scenes of dead and dying Syrian children.
"Some women care for style — and some women care for their people," the video says.
The video is filled with images of the Syrian conflict, including women crying and bloodied children's bodies.
"These children could be your children," the video says. "Stand up for peace, Asma."
The video urges her to speak out and "stop being a bystander" as the conflict continues.
'She should not hide behind her husband'
Viewers are being asked to sign a petition saying it's time for the 36-year-old to live up to her responsibility as a woman, wife and mother.
Huberta von Voss-Wittig, the wife of the German ambassador to the United Nations, helped produce the video along with Sheila Lyall Grant, who is married to the British ambassador to the UN.
"We do know it is a risk for her to speak out, but compared to the risk that other women are taking — and have been taking the past year — it is minimal," Voss-Wittig said.
Voss-Wittig, who has never met Asma Assad personally, said it's believed that she has some influence over her husband. And while Voss-Wittig won't speculate on how much influence her video will have, she says there's no doubt the president's wife knows what's happening in Syria.
"They are online, they are informed," Voss-Wittig said. "We just think she should not hide behind her husband especially now that the peace seems to come a little closer."
Assad, who has been targeted by sanctions banning her from travelling to any European Union country, was shown on state television on Wednesday at an aid distribution centre in Damascus.
The Damascus appearance comes amid concerns that the ceasefire brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan is faltering.
Syrian officials have blamed the uprising on foreign-backed militant groups.
With files from CBC's Melissa Kent and The Associated Press