Tag Archives: Syria

SYRIA: Negotiations should end the conflict and bring political transition in Syria

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In March 2016 we mark the 5th anniversary of the popular uprising in Syria. The first cessation of hostilities after five years of war in Syria began on 27 February 2016. Although there have been dozens of violations of the ceasefire daily, many communities have for the first time in years witnessed a period of calm and respite from bombardments. This fragile ceasefire follows UN Security Council Resolution 2268.

Despite renewed diplomatic efforts, there is little hope for an early end to the fighting in Syria. This ongoing war presents one of the greatest political and moral challenges of our time. Now an international conflict, it has the potential for additional destabilisation at the regional and international level.

The World Council of Churches and Pax Christi International urgently appeal to all involved parties to demonstrate good will and to take part in negotiations in Geneva. A fundamental ingredient for peace, political will, has been lacking in Syria. We call upon those governments with influence in this conflict to address the root causes of so much death and destruction and that are driving so many people from their homes.

Hundreds of thousands of victims have been claimed by the violence in Syria, which has left many millions more without a home or means of sustenance. We urge the international community to seek an end to the violence and, at the same time, to engage in dialogue toward a political transition that enables the country to return swiftly to peace. The intra-Syrian talks which begin on 15 March in Geneva must create the conditions for such a political transition. The Syrian people must be at the centre of the resolution of the conflict.  Other states (in particular the members of the International Syria Support Group) and non-state actors must support a Syrian-led process…

Read the entire statement by clicking here.

PAX CHRISTI INTERNATIONAL: Participate in the #HopeforSyria campaign this week, March 15-20

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Global Call for Acts of Solidarity and Days of Prayer and Fasting for Syria
In solidarity of all victims of this brutal war
15 March 2016: 5 years since the start of the protests

Pax Christi International is calling on our Global Network and all people of good will to organise acts of solidarity and days of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria between 15 and 20 March 2016. We call on individuals and organisations to show solidarity with refugees and victims of war and violence and create signs of hope that peace can come again in Syria.

In March 2011, Syrian civilians started non-violent demonstrations to demand basic freedoms and rights. The regime’s extreme repression led to the militarisation of the protests, evolving to a systemic war that has affected the whole region.

In the five years since, more than 250.000 people have been killed, more than 13.5 million people inside Syria are in need of emergency relief and 6.5 million civilians are internally displaced, including hundreds of thousands in besieged cities, deprived of food and basic services. Moreover, more than 4.6 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries and the wider region.

The conflict in Syria has also worsened the situation of the Palestinian refugees in Syria and Iraqi refugees living in the region. Their plight must not be forgotten. We are also in solidarity with the thousands of civil society activists in Syria. Despite scarce resources and limited solidarity, they continue their struggle for justice and are intensely engaged in humanitarian relief efforts.

This war has lasted too long and there is no perspective that it will end soon. The destruction of human lives and of a whole country must come to an end. We urge for the respect for human lives. The attacks against civilians and the bombardments need to stop, and the sieges should be lifted. The protection of civilians is at the forefront. Talks need to be intensified!

Organising an act of solidarity or day of fasting or prayer is also an occasion to meet with refugees in your own community. Please share your events and stories and photos with us via Facebook or Twitter (#HopeforSyria). In the course of the coming weeks we will provide you with update information so that you can prepare your actions.

Check out the webpage for this campaign by clicking here.

Pray, study and act by:

TAKE ACTION: Creating signs of hope for Syria

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Global Call for Acts of Solidarity and Days of Prayer and Fasting for Syria
In solidarity of all victims of this brutal war
15 March 2016: 5 years since the start of the protests

Pax Christi International is calling on our Global Network and all people of good will to organise acts of solidarity and days of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria between 15 and 20 March 2016. We call on individuals and organisations to show solidarity with refugees and victims of war and violence and create signs of hope that peace can come again in Syria.

In March 2011, Syrian civilians started non-violent demonstrations to demand basic freedoms and rights. The regime’s extreme repression led to the militarisation of the protests, evolving to a systemic war that has affected the whole region.

In the five years since, more than 250.000 people have been killed, more than 13.5 million people inside Syria are in need of emergency relief and 6.5 million civilians are internally displaced, including hundreds of thousands in besieged cities, deprived of food and basic services. Moreover, more than 4.6 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighbouring countries and the wider region.

The conflict in Syria has also worsened the situation of the Palestinian refugees in Syria and Iraqi refugees living in the region. Their plight must not be forgotten. We are also in solidarity with the thousands of civil society activists in Syria. Despite scarce resources and limited solidarity, they continue their struggle for justice and are intensely engaged in humanitarian relief efforts.

This war has lasted too long and there is no perspective that it will end soon. The destruction of human lives and of a whole country must come to an end. We urge for the respect for human lives. The attacks against civilians and the bombardments need to stop, and the sieges should be lifted. The protection of civilians is at the forefront. Talks need to be intensified!

Organising an act of solidarity or day of fasting or prayer is also an occasion to meet with refugees in your own community. Please share your events and stories and photos with us via Facebook or Twitter (#HopeforSyria). In the course of the coming weeks we will provide you with update information so that you can prepare your actions.

Whatever resources you may have are welcome. Please share them with us. We will add them to https://hopeforsyria.wordpress.com/ that will be created on 18 February, 2016.

SYRIA: Upcoming interfaith meeting for Christian Peace Witness for Syria & We Refuse to be Enemies

by Bob Cooke, Pax Christi International

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The nascent Christian Peace Witness for Syria and We Refuse To Be Enemies Interfaith group’s face to face day long planning meeting will be held on Friday, February 5th at the Methodist Building in Washington D.C. There will also be capability for people to join us for all, or part, of the day long meeting via teleconference.

So we hope you, or another member of your group, who is interested in helping to plan around the following will be able to join us that day:

  • What things are U.S. Christians and interfaith partners not doing as well as we would like concerning the war in Syria and the humanitarian devastation it is causing?
  • What things can U.S. Christians and interfaith partners do to offset the damaging narratives in both the Middle East and in the U.S. that the “other” is the enemy?
  • What can be done to stop the growing Islamophobia we are seeing in the United States?

From discussions that some of us were involved in December at an Advent Christian Peace Circles Retreat and a subsequent interfaith phone conference later that month, we do believe there are niche places,, despite the great work many faith and secular based groups are already doing on these subjects already, that can use even more voices and action to help the Syrian people, stop Islamaphobia, and turn around the narratives that indicate that the “Christian West” and “Muslim Middle East” are locked in a conflict where each side wishes to destroy the other.

So please try to join us for this planning meeting. Also, please invite others in the interfaith arena, especially Syrians, who should have a voice in deciding what we should do in regard to the questions noted above.

Time and Place – The face to face meeting will start at 8:30 am, and the teleconference at 9 am at the United Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002 (walking distance from Union Station, Metro Red Line). The meeting will finish by 6 pm (or earlier).

RSVP – If you will be attending in person, please let us know by e-mailing cookerh1251@gmail.com and letting us know your name and any relevant organizations that you belong.

If you would like to join us by teleconference, please let us know if you will be available for the full day or part of the day and provide us with your name, relevant organization affiliation and whether you have access to Skype. E-mail cookerh1251@gmail.com with this information also.

There will be a lunch served and some light snacks and drinks during the day. If anyone would like to make a donation to help cover these expenses, please let us know.

We hope this meeting will result in fruitful new contributions to the important subjects noted above. We hope you can join us. Please invite others who you think would be interested.

Let me know if you have any questions about any of the above.

SYRIA: Genocide, crimes against humanity, and refugees

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by Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR

Thirty Christian leaders, including Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, have written a letter to Secretary John Kerry calling on the State Department to include Syrian and Iraqi Christians among those listed as victims of genocide by the Islamic State group (also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh).

refugees“We recently learned that a State Department finding is imminent that ISIS is committing genocide against the Yazidis,” an Iraqi ethnic and religious group whose villages were attacked by the Islamic State group. “We would wholeheartedly endorse that finding, but we are deeply troubled by the prospect that the Department’s statement will either omit or reserve judgment on whether ISIS is committing genocide against Christians” in its territories.

The signers of the Dec. 4 letter asked for a meeting with Kerry “to present the available evidence of ongoing genocidal acts against Christians in Syria and Iraq at a level where it can be considered before a finding is made.”

“ISIS genocidal campaign against Christians continues today,” states the letter, “with hundreds of Christians remaining in ISIS captivity, and with summary executions, including by beheadings and crucifixions, occurring as recently as only a few months ago.”

“Pope Francis has called ISIS’ crimes against Christians by their proper name: ‘genocide,'” says the letter. “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Christian leaders in the Middle East have done so as well. We agree, and are hopeful that, once you have seen the evidence, you will too.”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

TAKE ACTION: Protect deserving, carefully vetted Syrian and Iraqi refugees and their families fleeing violence and death

from Justice for Immigrants

jfiBackground: In the aftermath of the violent attacks on Paris, 31 governors made public statements that they wanted resettlement of Syrian refugees halted in their states. Days later, the U.S. House of Representatives, with comparable intentions, passed H.R. 4038, The American Security against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which would effectively halt all resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States for a protracted time.

The week after Thanksgiving, the same bill or similar legislation will likely be introduced and voted on in the U.S. Senate, and even worse legislation may continue to be introduced. Meanwhile, some federal lawmakers may also try to use the Omnibus appropriations bill that must be passed by December 11th as a vehicle for securing passage of the SAFE Act or similar legislation.

On November 17th, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement which said, in part, “I am disturbed…by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.”…

Click here to read this full alert and take action now.

SYRIA: All energy should go to political negotiations for a solution in Syria

from Pax Christi International

Pax Christi International on the Vienna talks

pcilogoNovember 16, 2015 — The war in Syria has almost completed its fifth year. The cost in terms of human life, the environment and infrastructure is immense – more than 250.000 people have been killed and millions have been displaced. The cycle of extreme violence on the whole Syrian population is unacceptable and should come to an end as soon as possible.

A new round of international talks aimed at resolving the Syria crisis took place on 14 November 2015 in Vienna, immediately after the awful and gruesome attacks in Paris and Beirut. (See Pax Christi International’s statement here.) Participants at the Vienna meeting came from 17 nations, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, and included delegates from the United Nations and the European Union. A UN led political process including a timeframe has been decided. A roadmap has been agreed for ending the devastating and destabilizing war. Although this may not be the perfect plan, the international community should invest all its energy to ensure this is not another failed opportunity. The war in Syria must end.

Pax Christi International believes that this process should be aimed at bringing the fighting parties together in its broadest representation possible. For peace negotiations to be successful, all stakeholders need to be at the table. Hard work and transparent commitment from all parties involved must be undertaken to end the military escalation and to find a negotiated political solution. Pax Christi International is convinced that military actions cannot bring about peace in Syria…

Click here to read the rest of this piece.