An Open Letter about Syria - Sept. 21, 2016
Signers listed at bottom
The Russia-US Bombing Deal Will Bring Neither Peace Nor Justice
There can be no doubt that the Syrian people have paid a terrible price for their struggle for freedom. They know the pain and suffering of being unable to feed their children, of being the targets of relentless and merciless bombing. We share their desire to see peace with justice in Syria. Unfortunately, the Kerry-Lavrov negotiations have thus far brought neither. The "agreement" being sold as a "peace deal" for Syria has thus far been a rotten bargain that extends the bombing. The wanton destruction of the aid caravan on September 19th brought the sorely unsuccessful "ceasefire" phase to a barbaric conclusion, and what is proposed to follow will be even worse - far worse.
The Assad regime's forces continued their attacks throughout the so-called "ceasefire" of September 12th-18th. The day after the deal was announced, a hundred people died from regime attacks. On September 16th, regime warplanes targeted and bombed the White Helmets’ Head Quarters in Al Tamanna, rendering it inoperable.
The sieges that seek to impose submission to the regime through starvation still affect hundreds of thousands, and promises to allow aid convoys to reach the besieged areas during the "ceasefire" never materialised. This demonstrates beyond all doubt that only air-drops of food will prevent the mass starvation of entire populations under siege.
Millions have been driven from their homes as a result of Putin and Assad’s bombing campaign. Tens of thousands rot in Assad's torture-to-death prisons.
These issues must be addressed to bring peace through justice to Syria. An expansion of the targets to be bombed by the US Coalition, and cooperation in bombing these targets between the US and Russia, which objectively means cooperation with the Assad regime, cannot bring Syrians peace nor justice.
Stop the bombing! Don't expand it!
End the sieges! #DropFoodNotBombs! Immediate airdrops of food to the besieged! UN Aid must reach the people, not be diverted to supply a war criminal regime! Aid to the hungry is non-negotiable!
The peace and antiwar opposition can offer a real alternative to the expansion of the militaristic, never-ending and phony "War on Terror" by calling for an end to all bombing, including US bombing, and calling upon Russia and Iran to withdraw all support for the brutal Assad regime. Support for this regime enables ethnic cleansing and merciless attacks on unarmed civilians, on a nightmarish scale that is experienced by Syrians living in areas outside of regime control as a targeted genocide of Sunni populations within the opposition - an experience which is amplified by Assad's subsequent sectarian re-population of areas from which the besieged have been driven from their homes. This strategy can do nothing but breed sectarian division within Syria.
Assad and Putin's campaign of collective punishment of civilian populations has produced a terrible humanitarian crisis. Peace activists have an ethical responsibility to oppose these crimes against humanity. Our commitment to justice demands we challenge all attacks on the dignity and human rights of the Syrian people. To be silent is only to facilitate the attacks.
The peace and antiwar opposition can further promote a just solution to the terrible war in Syria by insisting that legitimate negotiations must include representatives from the Syrian democratic opposition, and these negotiations should have as their goal the ending of the bombing, the lifting of the sieges, and the freeing of all political prisoners.
The Obama administration is leading a military intervention in Syria, and more broadly in the Middle East under cover of the War on Terror. The War on Terror is not only a cynical cover for US intervention in the Middle East; experience has demonstrated that it is counterproductive as a strategy to fight terrorism.
In Syria, the violent sectarian forces have grown in strength directly as a result of the devastation wrought by relentless bombing. The democratic opposition to both the dictatorship and the violently sectarian forces is being crushed under barrel bombs, cruise missiles, cluster and phosphorus munitions, napalm and chemical weapons attacks. The peace and antiwar opposition can stand in solidarity with the democratic struggle by demanding an end to all bombing by all parties.
The strategy of combating violent sectarianism through drone strikes and bombing results in the death of innocent civilians and is a recipe for a never-ending war.
Without a single bomber dropping a single bomb, a major blow could be struck against violent sectarian forces by ending all military aid to the dictatorship in Egypt and to Israel, whose militaries should not be recipients of aid, and in an urgently needed display of human solidarity, redirecting the aid to provide for besieged Gaza and the Syrian refugees. Across the region external powers have been working to support undemocratic and oppressive regimes, whether in Yemen, Egypt, or Palestine. Under the Kerry-Lavrov deal, Washington and Moscow will be collaborating to maintain Assad in power. Solidarity with the democratic struggles is the alternative to occupations, war, dictatorships and violent sectarianism.
Note: Organizations mentioned for identification only
Ann Eveleth, freelance journalist and activist
David Finkel, managing editor AGAINST THE CURRENT
Dan Fischer, Dragonfly Climate Collective
Bill Fletcher, Jr., talk show host, writer & activist
The Rev. David W. Good
Minister Emeritus for The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme
President, Tree of Life Educational Fund
Thomas Harrison, Co-Director Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Howie Hawkins, Green Party Syracuse, New York
Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace, Middle East Crisis Committee
Joanne Landy, Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
Lama Abu Odeh, Georgetown Law Professor
Fred Mecklenburg, News and Letters Committees
Yasser Munif, Global Campaign in Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Pollack, MENA Solidarity Network-US
Bishop John Selders, Jr., Bishop Presider, Amistad UCC, Pastor
Stephen R. Shalom, New Politics
Ashley Smith, International Socialist Organization (ISO)
David Turpin, Jr., Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Self Determination
Ella Wind, New York University, MENA Solidarity Network
Ian Sherwood, Citizen of Connecticut
Tanya M. Monforte, O'Brien Fellow, McGill Law School
Gloria Careaga, professor at National University of Mexico, UNAM
Sonia Corrêa, research associate at the Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association, for AIDS, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Dennis van Wanrooij, Red Umbrella Fund
Oishik Sircar, Lawyer and Academic, India
Amina Ali, New York, NY
Jenny Peek, a Candidate for Ministry with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
Scott Long, Human rights activist
Terry Burke, Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria (CISPOS)
Andrew Berman, US Army 1971-73, member Veterans for Peace
Jumana Shammout, MD, Pediatric gastroenterologist
Neha Sood, activist and consultant
Joe Kelly, Toronto, ON
Joseph Daher, Swiss-Syrian activist, editor SyriaFreedomForever site
Cheryl Seelhoff, writer and activist
Joyce C. Rawitscher
Co-Clerk, Witness Support Committee, Storrs (CT) Friends Meeting
Convener, Israel/Palestine Peace Group of Northeastern Connecticut
Nefous Nabulsi, MD. Pediatrician
Kimberly Stoner, Secretary of the Board, Promoting Enduring Peace
Yasmeen Mobayed, New York University
Dan La Botz, Co-Editor, New Politics
Samuel Farber, Professor Emeritus Political Science Brooklyn College of CUNY
Ken Hiebert, Palestine solidarity activist, Ladysmith, BC, Canada
Farouk Belal, Independent activist based in Washington DC
Jenny Heinz, member of Granny Peace Brigade, Palestinian activist, psychotherapist
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Note: This is a statement on behalf of its signers, not RPM as a whole
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