No idea and no ideal however heroic it might be can justify the death of thousands of innocent people. No matter can be so important that it deserves that millions are fleeing their homes just because they want to survive. And no war should continue if it is aimed at the destruction of one’s own country.
This is the lesson of nearly every war and this is also the lesson of the war in Syria which already cost the lives of 70 000 Syrians. However the big question remains: How to stop this vicious circle of violence, which dominates the country since almost two years? Syria is situated in a multicultural environment there are many people on both sides of the political spectrum who just want democracy and social justice to be built from the bottom up in their urban and rural communities. But just this right for self-determination is systematically denied by those who erroneously consider the war as the only way to achieve their political goals.
Some efforts have been made to cut the spiral of violence from the outside, especially by the United Nations, claiming a cease-fire and negotiations which would eventually lead to a transitional government which will be assigned to promote and ensure a political process leading to free elections, enabling the expression of the real will of the Syrian people. Until now those efforts have not been very successful, in a large extent due to the fact that they are essentially relying on the geo-strategic balances and imbalances of the so called global powers as well as the regional States who are stakeholders in the conflict.
We, a movement of peace-activists, intellectuals and members of the international civil society have been following another logic : instead of waiting until the big and small powers of the region and of the world would find an equilibrium which allows them to generate a cease-fire from the outside, we established contacts with the Syrian political forces who are willing to engage a political dialogue under conditions which eventually could lead to a cease-fire and a political transition acceptable to all people who truly want peace in Syria and in the whole area. We also established contacts with members of the Syrian civil society and people on the ground.
In our pursuit of this common goal we want to show, first of all, our solidarity with the victims of the war. Therefore we constituted a delegation of renowned members of the international civil society, elected parliamentarians and peace activists from all over the world to go to Damascus with a series of concrete proposals which are bound to protect and support the civilian population in their every day struggle for survival:
• by creating demilitarized zones with access for humanitarian organisations,
• through the release of political prisoners and
• by fermenting truces on the local and regional level.
All of this in order to create the conditions for a genuine cease-fire and political negotiations about the transitional period.
Not very long ago these goals seemed to be completely utopian, since neither of both sides inside Syria proved its serious will to start political negotiations. Since about one month this situation suddenly started to change: first, a high level personality of the regime broke the silence of more than one year openly declaring that a military victory was impossible to achieve and that the government should look out for a political solution. And now even Washington seem to look for possibilities of a negotiated settlement.
On the other side the Coordinator of the Syrian National Coalition all of a sudden declared that he was ready to start a dialogue even with the Assad-regime under the condition that it would release the prisoners it is keeping in jails since the outbreak of the conflict, whereupon president Assad himself said he was ready for a “dialogue without preconditions.” Other personalities from the opposition seem also to be ready to make their contribution to a dialogue process.
However also in this case the historical experience has proven that a negotiation process from above, induced by the outside, has often been very long, hampered by many ups and downs, essentially when:
- the involved actors put up geopolitical or local balance of power interests underestimating (neglecting) the real people’ s need for peace and just political solution.
- the local civil society, as well as the international civil society do not take active and essential part in that negotiation, creating their common space of political rationality, defending their own objectives and visions.
Meanwhile, we have to realize that the war is going on and even intensifying its horrible pace. No day passes without being killed 150 to 300 persons, amongst them many children. More than half a million are living under inhuman conditions in refugee camps of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon and approximately 1.5 Million are in despair, seeking refuge inside the country.
This is also the main reason why the undersigned members of the international civil society believe that these efforts from above have to be accompanied by a solid, coherent, representative and honest (sincere) peace-making process from below in order to enhance a negotiated settlement for a democratic transition. We, therefore, continue our efforts, preparing - as a first step - our visit to Damascus in the near future in order to meet civil society representatives of all sides , to express our support and solidarity to all those striving with political means, to present them our main ideas and to exchange our thoughts. Last but not least to render our services:
• for a transition towards democracy
• against the sectarian civil war
• preserve the national sovereignty and to oppose foreign military intervention.
We want to demonstrate that the times of war could come to an end and that there is still some hope for the surviving victims who already have waited too long for this moment to come.
February 18th, 2013
• Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Price Laureate , Argentine
• Raúl Vera, Catholic bishop, Mexico
• Manolis Glezos, Resistance Fighter against Nazi occupation, Greece
• Hans von Sponeck, Retired UN diplomat, university professor, Germany
• Walden Bello, MP Akbayan, professor for sociology, Philippines
• Norman Paech, Professor for Int'l Law University Hamburg, MP for the "Linke", Germany
• Annette Groth, MP for the "Linke", Germany
• Odysseas Voudouris, MP, Greece
• Vicent Garcés, Diputado Europeo, España
• Jesus Iglesias Fernández, Senator, Spain
• Manuel Garcia Fonseca, former MP and speaker CSCA (Committee for the Arab Cause), Spain
• Gaspar Llamazares Trigo, MP, Spain
• Lyssaridis Vassos, former President of Parliament, Cyprus
• Nikolaos Houndis, Member of EU Parliament, Greece
• Santiago Alba Rico, writer, Spain / Tunisia
• Tariq Ali, writer, Britain
• Jan Myrdal, Writer, Sweden
• Gretta Duisenberg, Free Gaza Movement, Stop the Occupation, Netherlands
• Paul Larudee, Free Gaza Movement, Free Palestine Movement, Global March to Jerusalem, USA
• Pedro Rojo, president of Foundation Al Fanar, member of CEOSI, Spain
• Alejandro Bendana, sociologist, UN-officer for peacemaking, Nicaragua
• Francois Houtart, sociologist of religion and co-founder of the World Social Forum, Belgium
• Gilberto López y Rivas, social anthropologist, Mexico
• Leo Gabriel, social anthropologist, journalist,member of IC of the World Social Forum, Austria
• Vangelis Pissias, Professor, leading organiser of Gaza Freedom flotilla, Greece
• Mireille Fanon Mendès-France, journalist and activist, France
• Werner Ruf, Retired university professor, Germany
• Carlos Varea González, CEOSI, www.iraqsolidaridad.org, Spain
• Heike Händel, MP “Die Linke”, Germany
• Reiner Braun, International Association Of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Germany