Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad grinned tightly and chose a tactic of denial, defiance and deflection when television journalist Barbara Walters confronted him about the violent crackdown on protesters that, according to the UN, has left more than 4,000 of his citizens dead.
- “We don’t kill our people. No government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person,” he said, adding at another point: “There was no command to kill or be brutal.”
- “We never said we are a democratic country … we are moving forward in reforms, especially in the last nine months … It takes a long time, it takes a lot of maturity to be a full-fledged democracy.”
- “To be frank with you, Barbara, you don’t live here,” he told Ms. Walters after she said she had seen visual evidence that children had been arrested in house-to-house searches.
- “Who said the United Nations is a credible institution?”
- “We’ve been under sanctions for the last 30, 35 years. It’s not something new … We’re not isolated.”
- “Every brute reaction was by an individual, not by an institution; that’s what you have to know. There is a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference.”
- “They’re not my forces. They are military forces who belong to the government. I don’t own them. I’m president. I don’t own the country.”
- “I did my best to protect the people. You feel sorry for the life that has been lost, but you don’t feel guilty when you don’t kill people.”
- “Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government, not the vice versa.”
Sources: Associated Press, Reuters, Guardian, New York Times