Peace and Justice for Syria – Planning meeting this Wed at LARC, 7-9pm

 
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Date/Time
Date(s) - 30/10/2013
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location
London Action Resource Center (LARC)

Category(ies)


Peace and Justice for Syria – Planning meeting this Wed at LARC, 7-9pm

Venue: London Action Resource Centre, 62 Fieldgate St (corner of Parfett St), Whitechapel, E1 1ES.
Map: http://tinyurl.com/lcoppur

Hi,

You are warmly invited to join a meeting this Wednesday (30 October) to discuss future activities that grassroots activists in London can initiate around Syria, to promote a peaceful resolution to the brutal ongoing conflict and address the dire humanitarian situation, as well as supporting nonviolent activists working towards positive change in the country, often at great cost to themselves.

This will be the second meeting on this theme, following one held on 3rd October. At the first meeting, it was agreed we would work on a statement summarising the present situation in Syria and proposing various courses of action we believe the various parties within Syria and the international community should take (see draft statement below – n.b. this is still a work in progress and we welcome input from others).

Following on from the first meeting, a successful eight-hour peace vigil was organised outside the Foreign Office on Tuesday 22 October, as representatives of the Syrian opposition and 11 foreign ministers from the ‘Friends of Syria’ group met to discuss the conflict and the upcoming Geneva 2 peace talks. Twelve people took part in the vigil over the course of the day, including representatives from Occupy News Network, Peace Strike, London Catholic Worker and Veterans for Peace UK. The vigil was promoted on Twitter by, amongst others, Oxfam International, Labour MP John McDonnell and Green MEP Jean Lambert, and participants were filmed and interviewed by various media channels and freelance journalists.

Vigil call-out:

http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2013/10/513249.html

http://picasaweb.google.com/vd2012.pics/SyriaPeaceVigilAtForeignOffice

At the next meeting, we intend to explore the future direction of the group and share ideas about planning future events and actions, and networking, to promote positive action on Syria while continuing to oppose foreign military intervention and the fuelling of the conflict on all sides by various foreign actors.

We hope you can join us.

In peace

***Dan, Simon and Russ.

Draft statement on Syria (as of October 2013):

The situation in Syria:

The Syrian civil war has created a humanitarian crisis which the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has described as the worst since the end of the cold war. (1)

To date, over 110 000 people are reported to have died from the conflict. It has created over 2 million refugees and over 4 million people have been internally displaced, together representing around a third of Syria’s pre-war population. (2, 3)

The refugee crisis is putting a huge strain on neighbouring countries, which have taken in the vast majority of the refugees.

Millions of civilians within Syria are at constant risk from the violence. In addition, many have little or no access to food, clean water, adequate shelter, medical and psychological care, or other essential supplies and services. Surviving the harsh winters is particularly challenging.

Over half of those in need of emergency assistance are children, who are especially vulnerable to malnutrition, starvation and illness, as well as psychological trauma. Their education is also suffering greatly due to the conflict. (4, 5)

Significant in the conflict has been the involvement of foreign governments, as well as non-governmental actors. (6, 7) This has included the supplying of arms and other military equipment, as well as other forms of military assistance, to all parties, which we believe has added fuel to the flames. (7, 8)

Military strikes against Syria have been threatened by some countries. We fear that any such attacks could provoke a regional war, likely to result in many more casualties and refugees.

Combatants on either side have hindered the safe provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need, which has only worsened the humanitarian situation for millions and made it dangerous for aid organisations to carry out their work. (3)

There have been widespread allegations of human rights abuses committed by both the Syrian government and some opposition groups. (9) These have included deliberate attacks on civilian areas and targets, including medical facilities and personnel, summary executions, rape, enforced disappearances, torture and political detentions.

Proposed response to the crisis:

An immediate ceasefire should be called.

In particular, there should be no further attacks or other human rights abuses perpetrated against civilians, including nonviolent activists, or civilian targets.

The fuelling of the civil war by all foreign countries and actors must end immediately. In particular, the supplying of arms to all parties in the conflict must end immediately and a universal arms embargo should be put in place.

There should be no military aggression by foreign actors against any side in the conflict.

All parties should work towards a peaceful solution to the conflict, led by the Syrian people themselves with the assistance and support of the international community, as required. It is for the Syrian people alone to decide who, if anyone, they wish to be governed by.

We support activists working to bring about positive change in Syria through peaceful, nonviolent means.

All governments should make good on their pledges of humanitarian aid to refugees, internally displaced persons and others in need within Syria in response to the UN’s emergency appeal. Those countries that have not yet contributed their fair share should do so without further delay.

Safe and unfettered humanitarian access should be guaranteed by all parties, without prejudice.

All parties must allow full and safe access so that allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights abuses can be independently and thoroughly investigated, and appropriate legal action should be taken to bring those responsible to account.

1. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/apr/19/half-syrian-population-aid-year
2. http://syria.unocha.org
3. http://news.yahoo.com/security-council-syria-combatants-let-humanitarian-aid-fast-221846743.html
4. http://www.savethechildren.org/atf/cf/%7B9def2ebe-10ae-432c-9bd0-df91d2eba74a%7D/SYRIA_INFO_GRAPHIC_STC_SEPTEMBER2013.PDF
5. http://www.therecord.com/opinion-story/4125694-suffer-the-children-young-people-the-biggest-victims-of-syria-s-civil-war/
6. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/01/world/meast/syria-proxy-war/index.html
7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_involvement_in_the_Syrian_Civil_War
8. http://www.sipri.org/yearbook/2013/files/sipri-yearbook-2013-chapter-5-section-3
9. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/10/human-rights-abuses-syrias-regime-condemned

 
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