Peace in Syria
NOBEL LAUREATES, 21 Oct 2013
XIII World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, Warsaw, Poland Oct 2l-23, 2013
In May, 2013 I led a 16-person peace delegation to Syria at the invitation of Mussalaha National Movement.
What we witnessed inside Syria was not being fairly depicted in the international media, which was not reporting gross violations of international and humanitarian international laws by foreign countries and fighters that are waging a proxy war for the purpose of regime change and geo-strategic benefits. We would remind those foreign governments that are training and funding foreign fighters that it is illegal under the United Nations Charter to arm forces to topple elected governments. During our visit we witnessed a civilian population that was, and still is, suffering the invasion of thousands of foreign fighters from many countries, who are fuelling insecurity, death, chaos, and destruction everywhere. The ongoing tension in Syria is fuelled by sectarian violent Islamic ideology that pushes rebels to the most cruel acts of barbarism against their opponents. This invasion of Syria by outside forces has caused one of the greatest humanitarian crises since WWII. Over l00,000 people dead, thousands internally displaced and over a million refugees fleeing to surrounding countries. It is important that the UN and all international bodies and host countries continue to give as much help to the refugees whose lives have been shattered by this ongoing humanitarian tragedy.
We lament the propaganda of the international media’s coverage of the Syrian crisis, which did not report the truth of what is happening in Syria but rather gives a false narrative of the situation. We lament that Syria has been weakened by so much violence by insurgency groups and has been led down the path of sectarian violence instigated by the West and some Gulf States. The media has a responsibility to expose the information warfare that is being carried out through fake videos, lies, and propaganda, and are using the suffering of the Syrian people in a most cruel form to appeal to the emotions of the international community in an attempt to get further support in funding and arms, trying to force the world community to military intervention. However, in spite of the information war being carry out by rebels and some proxy human rights groups many people around the world remembering Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, don’t trust the simplistic narrative being fed to them by the mainstream media and are saying no to military intervention and yes to supporting the reconciliation and peace movement and political dialogue as a way to solving the conflict.
We support the courage of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in his endeavour to conduct a fact-finding mission to unveil the terrible reality of the Syrian crisis and help prevent the ongoing ethnic, religious and political cleansing that is happening in this country in the name of freedom and democracy.
The Syrian state should not be dismantled and the economic sanctions that are causing much suffering to the people should be lifted immediately. No outside military intervention or support for militants should be allowed anymore. The international community should put pressure on those countries that are fuelling terror to stop, and should encourage all parties to attend the Geneva II Peace Conference to give the Syrian people the right to self-determination through legal elections without foreign interference in order to achieve an honourable transformation towards a peaceful future and participation in the free democratic world.
We applaud the work of the chemical weapons team to destroy the Syrian arsenal and hope it will work for the destruction of all chemical weapons including the Israeli. The continued negotiations, which should include Syria and regional governments, should be fully supported by the West.
This will include talking to President Assad’s government and to opposition forces in order to reach a negotiated settlement. The issue is not who talks to whom, but how quickly all parties to the conflict can talk together in order to save lives and the country from being further destroyed and divided. We encourage all those who are using violence to stop and to participate in peaceful dialogue now to save Syria.
There is a growing recognition that there will not be a military or paramilitary solution to the Syrian or the Middle East conflict. Only through dialogue and negotiation can peace be reached.
We pay tribute to the great work of so many of the religious leaders, both Muslim and Christian, and to many in the Syrian civil society who in spite of so much suffering have continued to bravely work for an end to violence and engage in dialogue with everyone.
We would encourage people to give support to Mother Agnes Mariam and the Mussalaha national movement, working in Syria with all the components of the Syrian society for peace, forgiveness and reconciliation as a preparation for a final political settlement.
Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 21 Oct 2013.
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