Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Save Aleppo activists call on UK to say no to Putin’s bloody money



Syria Solidarity activists today protested outside the Russian British Business Forum, to call for sanctions on Russia. The conference, which promises to ‘bring together business and finance officials from Russia and the UK,’ has been organised by the Russian Trade delegation in the UK. The event is being held at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London even as Putin’s bombers destroy Aleppo, intentionally targeting hospitals and schools, and indiscriminately killing men, women and children.

Activists in ‘Save Aleppo’ t-shirts offered ‘bloody money’ leaflets to delegates and let off confetti canons as they entered the conference, and offered ‘bloody money’ to the Russian Ambassador as he arrived. Since the resumption of the Russian and Syrian regimes’ bombardment of Aleppo on November 15th, over 500 civilians have been killed. Tens of thousands of them are fleeing from Russian jets—many bombed as they seek escape.



Amr Salahi, a Syrian activist who was outside the conference this morning, said ‘On Monday Theresa May said “business as usual” with Russia is not an option, yet today we witness a trade event going ahead as planned. We urge the UK business community to think carefully: any company that continues to trade with Russia at this time will be associated with its war crimes in Aleppo and risk lasting reputational damage.’

He added: ‘The UK and the EU have already imposed some sanctions on the Putin regime for its illegal annexation of the Crimea, but businesses in the UK are still able to trade with Russia, and Russian banks still have access to the SWIFT international banking system.’

‘The reality is that current sanctions have not been enough to deter Putin from further violence against the Ukraine, nor from his campaign to destroy all popular democratic resistance to the Assad regime. The world has no legitimate business with a regime which is currently exterminating an entire city, and committing war crimes, in order to keep a dictator in power.’

Flora Bain, part of the Syria Solidarity Campaign UK, said ‘The truth is that UK trade with Russia taints us all with the blood of Syria’s children. The price of allowing Putin’s aggression to continue is too high. We must act now.’

Activists will be protesting outside the conference all day to call on the UK Government and business sector to:

  • Freeze all trade with Russia until its military stops targeting Syrian civilians.
  • Demand that Russia is cut out of the SWIFT international banking system to make it more difficult for Putin’s regime to do business abroad.
  • Join the growing calls for a UN General Assembly emergency session to bypass the Russian UNSC veto and allow measures to protect civilians in Syria.


Syria Solidarity UK is a grassroots solidarity group of Syrian and UK activists. Contact: info@syriauk.org

More information on the conference and a full list of speakers is available at www.easternseasons.com/forum2016



Ireland: Arrest Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun



Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, grand mufti of Syria, a regime-approved religious leader, is this week amongst a delegation visiting the Irish Parliament, Dáil Éireann, campaigning for EU sanctions against the Assad regime to be lifted.

This man has previously threatened that Syria will send suicide bombers to all of Europe—see video above. The Irish police, An Garda Síochána, should urgently detain this man and charge him with inciting terrorism.

Background: Religious delegation from Syria in Ireland to campaign against EU sanctions, by Patsy McGarry for the Irish Times.

Via Irish Syria Solidarity Movement.

UPDATE: Irish Muslims condemn Syria's Grand Mufti's visit to Dublin, report by Robert Cusack for The New Arab.

Below: Report from RTE News: The mufti says he was ‘sending a love message to Europe.’



Say NO to killer Putin’s bloody money



Russo-British Chamber of Commerce promotes trade with Russia at Westminster event

The world watched in horror over the past few days, weeks and months as Putin’s bombers destroyed Aleppo, intentionally targeting hospitals and schools, deliberately destroying a UN aid convoy, and indiscriminately killing men, women and children.

Since the resumption of Russian and Syrian bombardment of Aleppo on November 15th, over 500 civilians have been killed. As you read this, tens of thousands more are fleeing from Russian jets, many bombed even as they seek escape.

Now, even as these war crimes continue, the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce has decided it would be a good time to promote trade links with Russia with an event at  The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in the heart of Westminster.

Theresa May said yesterday that ‘business as usual’ with Russia is not an option. The UK and the EU have already imposed some sanctions on the Putin regime for its illegal annexation of the Crimea, but businesses in the UK are still able to trade with Russia, and Russian banks still have access to the SWIFT international banking system.

Current sanctions are not enough to deter Putin from aggressive acts against Ukraine, nor from his campaign to keep Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power by destroying every vestige of popular democratic resistance to the regime.

Putin claims to fight terrorism in Syria, but military observers have documented that hardly any Russian airstrikes actually target ISIS. Instead Putin’s target is those Syrian communities which reject Assad. The world has no legitimate business with a regime which is currently exterminating an entire city in order to keep a dictator in power.

UK trade with Russia taints us all with the blood of Putin’s crimes. Putin’s and Assad’s war against the Syrian population has driven millions to flee, and has helped destabilise politics across Europe. Putin’s actions in Syria and Ukraine undermine the rule of law and threaten all our futures. The price of allowing Putin’s aggressions to continue is too high.

We call on the UK Government and UK business sector to:

  • Freeze all trade with Russia until the Putin regime ceases its targeting of Syrian civilians.
  • Demand that Russia is cut out of the SWIFT international banking system to make it much more difficult for Putin’s regime to do business abroad.
  • Join the growing calls for a UN General Assembly emergency session to bypass the Russian UNSC veto on international measures to protect civilians in Syria.

We urge the UK business community to think carefully; any company that continues to trade with Russia risks lasting damage through association with a regime guilty of ongoing crimes against humanity.

We urge the UK Government to immediately impose a no-bombing zone on Aleppo and all opposition held areas of Syria. We urge the UK Government to carry out emergency aid drops to Aleppo and other besieged areas from its base in Adana, only 15 minutes flying time away. Break the starvation siege that Putin and Assad are imposing on hundreds of thousands of innocent people.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Joint faith leaders' statement calls for UK Government to get aid into East Aleppo

A broad group of 15 UK faith leaders have come together to urge the UK government to take immediate action to deliver aid to civilians in besieged Aleppo.

The plea made today—from Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh faith leaders—comes as humanitarian organisations warn that supplies of food and medicine are running out in East Aleppo.

Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “As faith leaders, we are all motivated by our respective faiths to help alleviate those suffering, and as my faith uses the comparable of the suffering of the world to that of one’s body, where if one part suffers, the rest of the body suffers, we cannot stand by and watch thousands on the brink of starvation and do nothing. We urge the UK government to take urgent action so that much needed aid can reach those in desperate need of it.”

Statement in full:

Joint Statement Calling for the Urgent Delivery of Humanitarian Aid to Aleppo

We, UK faith leaders, jointly call on the UK Government to act to support the urgent delivery of aid to those besieged in Aleppo.

In eastern Aleppo, an estimated 250,000 people, including 100,000 children, have been cut off from food and medical supplies since August 2016. The UN warns that there will soon be no food left in the besieged part of the city.

This is an ancient city which has been home to people of many faiths, we pray for all those still in the city and call for action to preserve the lives of the people of Aleppo.

The situation is now desperate, yet the UN is still being prevented from delivering desperately needed aid to the besieged civilians. It seems a very real possibility that the world could stand by whilst 250,000 people are facing starvation.

As faith leaders we bear witness to the suffering of all those in the city of Aleppo.We call on the UK government to take action at an international level, including in the UN General Assembly, and to provide practical support to facilitate the delivery of aid to civilians in the city.

The UK can lead the way in alleviating the terrible suffering of the people of Aleppo, we pray that action is taken to come to their aid.

Signatories:

  • Muslim Council of Britain, Harun Khan, Secretary General. 
  • Lewisham Islamic Centre, Imam Shakeel Begg. 
  • Mohammed Kozbar, Director of Finsbury Park Mosque. 
  • Baptist Union of Great Britain, The Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary.
  • Church of Scotland, The Rev Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland 
  • Methodist Church, Revd Dr Roger Walton, President of the Methodist Conference and Rachel Lampard, Vice President of the Methodist Conference. 
  • United Reformed Church, The Revd John Proctor, General Secretary. 
  • Hindu Council UK, Sanjay Jagatia, Director. 
  • Liberal Judaism, Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive. 
  • Reform Judaism, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi.
  • Dayan Ivan Binstock, Dayan of the London Beth Din.
  • Sikh Council UK, Mr Gurmel Singh, Secretary General.
  • Gaia House Buddhist Meditation Retreat Centre, Rob Burbea.
  • Satipanya Buddhist Trust, Bhante Bodhidhamma, Spiritual Director.

Over 120 MPs call on Theresa May to support air drops to Aleppo

More than 120 MPs from across UK parliamentary parties this weekend called on Prime Minister Theresa May to support air drops of food and medicine to besieged areas in Syria. The letter was reported in the Observer on 27 November by Toby Helm and Emma Graham-Harrison.

Citing desperate situation of those in Aleppo the MPs wrote: “This is now the epicentre of the crisis. The Assad and Putin regimes are moving to ‘exterminate’ all those who have not already been killed as a consequence of their indiscriminate bombing campaigns.

“In the last 10 days all hospitals there, including the last children’s hospital, have been bombed out of operation. Centres belonging to the heroic volunteers of the White Helmets [Syria Civil Defence] have also been destroyed. The last aid delivery was three months ago and medical workers estimate we have less than two weeks before all food runs out.

“With our Royal Air Force already operational in the air over Syria, we are calling on you to urgently authorise the air-dropping of aid to besieged civilian populations. It is simply not acceptable that during the biggest aid operation in the UN’s history, and in the full glare of the world’s media, nearly 100,000 children are facing the slowest, cruellest death because we cannot reach them with food and medical supplies.

“Air-dropping aid is only ever a last resort, but who can credibly claim we have not reached that point? The Syrian government is refusing all attempts to allow access to UN relief agencies whilst simultaneously dropping chlorine gas onto civilian populations.”

MPs who signed include former Conservative front bench ministers Michael Gove, Andrew Mitchell, alongside Sir Nicholas Soames, former Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, Clive Lewis, and Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. The letter was coordinated by Labour MPs Alison McGovern (co-chair of the all party parliamentary group Friends of Syria) and John Woodcock.

See the Observer article here.