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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.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

A message from the people of Aleppo to the world.



A message sent today from Aleppo:

Today marks the 91st day of Aleppo city besiegement. According to Aleppo city council statistics 271,536 people are stuck inside the east of Aleppo.

Over 2,300 strikes including airstrikes, explosive barrels, artillery, cluster bombs, bunker-busters, and bombs loaded with chlorine gas, have been documented over the last 23 days only.

Eight hospitals and medical centres have been struck, four hospitals over the last week, six schools, two bakeries, and civil defence HQ.

Both Russian and Syrian regime air forces are intentionally targeting the civilian infrastructure in order to break people’s will. Currently people have almost zero access to medical care, people are afraid to go to hospitals due to the intentional Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes.

It has been almost six years and we are wondering what the world was doing. More than 500,000 people have died. How many hospitals or schools does it take to see real actions against war crimes in Syria?

It can’t get more gruesome than this. We are in 2016 and 271,536 people are trapped in a besieged city facing death from bombardment and possibly very soon starvation. The dysfunctionality of the world is responsible for 500,000 deaths and for those 271,536 trapped in the city.

We wonder: Why do we have UN? Why do we have human rights laws?

This has been a slow-motion train wreck, and this message is from the people who lasted in Aleppo to the world: don’t look back years from now and wish that you can do something. You can still do. We ask you to:

  • Ground Assad air-force that’s killing us, or at least have some diplomatic leverage to force the Syria regime and Russia’s bombardment of the city of Aleppo to be stopped.
  • We ask you to open a demilitarised humanitarian corridor for the people of Aleppo to revolutionaries-held areas under the observation of the UN only, without the presence of any other groups or countries, a corridor that allows free movements of food, fuel, medicines and all merchandises for the civilian essential infrastructure inside eastern Aleppo—water stations, electricity, hospitals, schools and civil defence—both for relief aid and trade movements. Revolutionaries armed groups did agree on allowing relief aid passage to eastern Aleppo yet both the Syrian regime and Russia are refusing. 
  • If the international community won’t be able to open the previous mentioned corridor or be able to convince the Syrian regime to pass the relief aid toward eastern Aleppo, we urge the world and the west specially to airdrop the humanitarian aids as there are already warplanes for the US-led collation in Syria not far from Aleppo city. We are the people of eastern Aleppo and we emphasise that we have no problems with relief aid airdrop. 

The international community holds responsibility of any future consequences of Aleppo besiegement hoping that our voices will be heard, and Aleppo will be saved.


Read CNN’s report on the video message: A message from the people of Aleppo to the world.

Monday, 21 November 2016

British Syrian organisations outraged over UK’s inaction on Syria in light of Putin and Assad’s military escalations in Aleppo



PDF version.

The last few days have witnessed the descent of Aleppo into the dark ages. All remaining hospitals within the besieged areas of the city have been hit by Assad and Putin. Assad and Putin’s systematic targeting of hospitals, schools, and civilian infrastructure must stop and it must stop immediately and unconditionally.

It is well-documented that Daesh does not exist in Aleppo. Assad and Putin’s unsubstantiated claims for airstrikes on the city are only an excuse to terrorise the civilians of the city into submission.

It is also deeply infuriating that in the midst of this unprecedented level of violence, European leaders are meeting to discuss a political solution that could be negotiated with Assad and Putin. It seems that we have not learned from our previous failures. Political negotiations with these war criminals will only be effective if backed with credible threats of enforcement.

To this end, we are calling upon our Government to take immediate and robust action to end the carnage in Aleppo. Specifically, we are calling upon the Government to:

  • Impose immediately a no-bombing zone in Syria enforced by a threat of strikes against Assad regime military targets which will not entail boots on the ground, flights over Syrian airspace, or a direct confrontation with Russia
  • Conduct humanitarian aid drops to besieged areas inside Syria
  • Introduce additional sanctions against the Assad regime and its backers
  • Track and publicly report aircraft that are responsible for attacks on civilian areas as a means of ‘naming and shaming’ the perpetrators
  • Pursue an emergency special session within the UN General Assembly as a means of circumventing Russia’s persistent use of the veto in the UN Security Council
  • Continue to push for accountability for perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria.


History is being written. In twenty years we will look back on Aleppo and question why we did not do more. Inaction is a choice. We do not want to view Aleppo the same way we view Srebrenica and Rwanda today. It is never too late to act. History compels us to act.

Signatories:

Dr. Haytham Alhamwi, Rethink Rebuild Society
Amr Salahi, Syria Solidarity UK
Dr. Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal, Syrian Association of Yorkshire
Abdullah Alobwany, Oxford for Syria
Dr. Amer Masri, Scotland4Syria
Dr. Mohammad Tammo, Kurds House
Dr Hassan Dibs Wazait, Syrian British Medical Society
Mazen Ejbaei, Help 4Syria
Bachar Hakim, Syrian Society of Nottinghamshire
Dr. Mohammad Alhadj Ali, Syrian Welsh Society
Dr. Fadel Moghrabi, Peace and Justice for Syria
Reem Assil, Syrian Platform for Peace
Dr. Abdullah Hanoun, Syrian Community of the South West

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Call on UK councils to support the Local Council of Aleppo City



In her work on Syria, Jo Cox was particularly struck by how civil society has carried on in the most appalling conditions. A key example of that is the local councils that have been set up in opposition areas.

Read about Syria’s local councils in the last issue of Syria Notes published before Jo’s death.

This week Russian forces have resumed attacks on besieged civilians in the Syrian city of Aleppo. 275,000 people remain trapped in east Aleppo according to Stephen O’Brien of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

A third of those are children according to UNICEF.

UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura is trying to negotiate an end to the siege of Aleppo. As part of his proposal he calls for the recognition of the Local Council of Aleppo’s administration in eastern Aleppo.



Aleppo’s Local Council was founded in March 2013 to meet the needs of the area of Aleppo free of regime control. Members are elected through the general commission which includes representatives of borough councils and independent members. The term is one year.

The Local Council of Aleppo City provides water/waste management services, electricity supply services, rubbish collection, street cleaning, road maintenance, educational supplies and stationery, humanitarian aid, air raid shelters, and a burial service.

Before the siege, the council already faced all the difficulties of life under bombardment as well as the lack of a fixed budget, lack of heavy equipment, and lack of trained personnel. Even under siege, with shortages of food and fuel, the council continues to do all it can to maintain life and hope for Aleppo’s future.



Staffan de Mistura made clear in his recent interview with The Guardian that a military victory by the Assad regime will not bring peace but instead more instability and terrorism. Civil society initiatives like Aleppo Local Council are trying to build an alternative both to Assad’s failed state and to the terror state of ISIS, and we need to support them.

Local authorities in the UK can do their part to support Staffan de Mistura’s peace efforts, and to show support for besieged civilians in Aleppo including tens of thousands of children, by supporting Aleppo Local Council’s democratic project.

Metz, France, has a Charter of Friendship with the Local Council of Aleppo City. Now is the time for similar statements of support from UK local authorities.

The Charter of Friendship between the City of Metz, France, and the City of Aleppo, Syria, says:
“Lorraine and Metz experienced several conflicts in their turbulent history and suffered the humanitarian consequences: denial of rights, displacement of populations. It is with this history that the City of Metz decided to initiate a Charter of Friendship with The Civil Committee of the City of Aleppo, in Syria, at war today, but looking to reconstruction tomorrow.

“The aim of this Charter is to demonstrate our common desire to strengthen ties between the City of Aleppo and the City of Metz. It is not limited in time. It includes all citizens and structures present in a city and lays the foundation stone of a lasting friendship between our two councils.”

Please call on your local councillors to similarly extend friendship and support to the besieged people of Aleppo.

You can write to your local councillors via www.writetothem.com



Monday, 7 November 2016

Little Gandhi: the story of Ghiyath Matar



Little Gandhi: the story of Ghiyath Matar
Produced and directed by Sam Kadi

Film showing and talk hosted by Amnesty International and Rahma Relief Foundation.

Review by Mark Boothroyd

This documentary tells the story of Ghiyath Matar and the peaceful uprising of the city of Daraya in the suburbs of Damascus in 2011.

Daraya was the centre for peaceful protests in Damascus in 2011. It had a history of civic activism going back a decade; in 2003 civil society activists organised street cleaning exercises and public health and anti-corruption campaigns, and even organised demonstrations against the Iraq War, culminating in a silent demonstration to mark the fall of Baghdad to the American invasion. For these activities many activists were arrested and endured 2-3 years in prison.

The film documents, through interviews with activists inside Syria, and those forced into exile the story of Daraya’s uprising, and Ghiyath Matar’s role in it.

Although at the centre of the film, Ghiyath is never pictured; instead his comrades recount the beginning of the uprising, and how Ghiyath’s ideas of peaceful resistance to the Baathist tyranny were taken up and acted upon in Daraya.

The film is full of poignant moments as the exiled revolutionaries recount the days of the early protests, their first taste of freedom as they began to shout anti-government slogans for the first time and broke the barrier of fear that had been built around their minds.

Footage of the early protests is shown, and the activists explained how they wanted to keep the revolt peaceful as the best means to threaten the regime. This peaceful resistance was what the regime feared most, and Ghiyath was its champion. His friends recounted his fervent belief that the soldiers would not kill them as they were their fellow Syrians, and that their best hope was to appeal to them as Syrian brothers and fellow human beings.

Ghiyath was a key organiser of the tactic of holding roses on demonstrations, and of giving bottles of water to the police and soldier who come to repress the demonstrations. In the middle of summer 2011, many of the soldiers were thirsty and dehydrated and gladly accepted the water, although their commanders did their best to dissuade them from taking it by saying it was poisoned.

Usually the demonstrators would have to leave the bottles of water stood in the street for the soldiers to collect as they moved towards the protests. Activists would write notes and attach a rose to the bottle, sending messages of love and peace to them. On one occasion their protest accidentally marched into the ranks of the soldiers, and they were able to give the water bottles and flowers directly to them, infuriating their officers.

When the regime attempted to intimidate families from holding public funerals for murdered protestors, funerals which would inevitably themselves become protests, Ghiyath organised his activists to mobilise the local population so that tens of thousands of people marched to the homes of the victims to defy the regime’s intimidation.



Some of the most fascinating parts of the documentary are those filmed in besieged Daraya itself. Director Sam Kadi, speaking after the showing, outlined how they had recruited and trained a cameraman to film the scenes within the besieged area, and then arranged to have the film smuggled out to the US.

They had to smuggle the footage out of Daraya on thumb drives taped to the body of an activist who was escaping the siege. The thumb drives were smuggled to Damascus, then to Turkey then to LA where it was edited.

Motaz Morad and Muhammad Shihadeh, two of the original activists who worked with Ghiyath Daraya, and who remained behind in the siege, were interviewed in talking about how the ideas of Martin Luther King and the US civil rights movement influenced their work. As they talked, sniper fire could be heard in the background, interrupting their interview, a reminder of the regime’s constant attempts to wipe them out.

When the film footage reached the US, they found out the audio had been ruined by a strange humming noise. They thought it was broadcast by the regime on purpose to ruin any recording done within Daraya. In the end an editing studio agreed to do the cleaning up work for free when it learned what the content of the film was.

Hossam, a former resident of Daraya who attended the screening spoke about what made Daraya special:
“Daraya, what is special about Daraya? It’s the activists, the youth, they are very special, very humble and very dedicated to making a change in their country.
They were very dedicated to organising and structuring their work, so for instance you never see any abuse of human rights in Daraya. When it turned to militarise, they tried as much as possible to respect the law, so if they capture a soldier they never torture for instance.”
The regime’s response to Ghiyath and his comrades peaceful resistance was brutal. Peaceful activists were arrested and beaten and tortured, often to death. Activists took to living in outlying farms surrounding Daraya to escape the constant raids on the city by the security forces, only returning to organise and participate in protests. Eventually Ghiyath and another leading activists Yahya Shurbaji were lured back into the city and captured in a trap.

Several days later, Ghiyath’s horrifically tortured body was returned to his family. Yahya’s whereabouts are unknown, he has not been released nor had his body returned.

Najlaa Al-Sheikh, one of the women activists interviewed spoke about the anger felt by other peaceful activists when news of Ghiyath’s murder reached them. Although completely opposed to using violent means to overthrow the regime, the torture and murder of Ghiyath made them consider taking up arms against it, and drove many to support those groups already doing so.

When asked about the prospects for the future of Syria, Najlaa replied in a poetic fashion typical of many of the activists; “"We have sowed freedom and it will be reaped by our sons"

None of the activists believed the conflict would end soon, but they all felt that freedom would come to Syria, in time.

A poignant moment was brought to the discussion at the end, when a young Indian activist stood and talked about how the film had affected him. He mentioned how inspired he was by Ghiyath’s example, and that Ghiyath should not be known as ‘little Gandhi’, as that prevented linking his name with his actions, which deserved to be known in their own right. Instead he said, everyone should know Ghiyath Matar’s name so that he would have his own legacy and people would remember Ghiyath, not as a ‘little Gandhi’ but as an inspiring example of the Syrian revolution’s peaceful glory days, when everything seemed possible.

See all posts on Daraya.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Concern for the fate of Aleppo mounts as Russia promises to intensify military campaign

By Yasmine Nahlawi, Rethink Rebuild

“If you do not leave these areas urgently, you will be annihilated. You know that everyone has given up on you. They left you alone to face your doom and nobody will give you any help.”

Message dropped on residents of East Aleppo by Assad/Russia

As the world is focused upon the upcoming US elections, Syrian civilians and activists are gravely concerned regarding a predicted renewed Russian offensive on Aleppo, which has already borne the brunt of Russia’s brutality, including through its use of cluster munitions and bunker-busting missiles.

Syrian journalist Rami Jarrah issued an ‘Urgent Distress Call for Aleppo’ on 2 November in which he detailed that Russia has allegedly ‘notified anti-government rebels in besieged Eastern Aleppo to leave via two corridors between 9am and 7pm this Friday.’ Jarrah continued that ‘this can only mean that when the deadline comes the bombardment of Aleppo will see an escalation’.

In light of Russia’s apparent determination to continue its criminal and barbaric actions, we are calling upon policy makers and the media to ensure that Russian crimes continue to be exposed even as the world’s attention threatens to be diverted to the US elections.

Rethink Rebuild Society Advocacy Coordinator Dr. Haytham Alhamwi says, ‘The least we can ask is that the media report closely on the situation in Syria over the next week and to discuss the position of the two US presidential candidates with respect to their positions on Russia and Assad’s crimes in Syria. Policy makers should also continue to stress the importance of civilian protection in Syria so that Putin and Assad understand that the world is watching.’



Protest organised by The Syria Campaign and Syria Solidarity UK in front of the Russian embassy to highlight Russia’s criminal involvement in Syria.

In a street action on 3 November, The Syria Campaign and Syria Solidarity UK protested outside the Russian embassy to shift international attention towards Russia’s criminal actions in Syria (See images below). Two activists chained themselves to the Russian embassy’s gate while a display of over 800 mannequin limbs spilled out of the embassy’s front gates to symbolise Russia’s commission of war crimes in Syria.

One of these activists, in an email issued by The Syria Campaign, said, ‘We’re here because Russian warplanes are killing Syrian children in their beds. We’re here because doctors and rescue workers are being bombed for trying to save lives. We’re here because in eastern Aleppo, more than 800 people have been killed this past month alone.’

The street action was also covered via video by The Syria Campaign and can be seen here.


Rethink Rebuild Society has established itself as a non-profit organisation that acts as an umbrella for the Syrian community in Manchester, and endeavours to clarify the Syrian cause to its audience in the UK and the wider public.

For further information and press enquiries, please contact Yasmine at advocacy@rrsoc.org.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Today’s action at the Russian Embassy, London



Press release:

Peace activists blockade Russian Embassy in London to protest ‘annihilation’ of Aleppo

Campaigners demand action amid fears of major new offensive

London, 3rd November 2016 — A group of 25 peace activists have blockaded the front gate of the Russian Embassy in London in protest at the bombing of civilians in east Aleppo.

At 1400, 25 activists from two campaign groups The Syria Campaign and Syria Solidarity UK placed a structure made from white mannequin ‘limbs’ next to the front gate, while two others locked themselves to the gate itself.

Others scattered over 800 limbs around the gates, to symbolise the horrific impact of Russia’s use of cluster bombs and other banned weapons in the besieged city.

John Dunford from the Syria Campaign is one of those locked on. He said:
“We’re here because innocent children are being killed in their beds, while doctors are being bombed just for trying to save the lives of others. The Russian government and the Assad regime are committing these war crimes in Aleppo and things could be about to get even worse.

“We will not stand by and let this happen. This is a test of our shared humanity, a line we cannot cross. It shouldn’t be up to activists like me to say this – the UK government should be doing far more to protect the innocent and stand up against this barbarity.”

Police are on the scene but no arrests have yet been made.

The campaigners are calling on the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to increase the pressure on Russia, including by announcing new sanctions against Russian financial interests in the UK.

According to leaked intelligence briefings, Russia could be about to launch a major new assault on the embattled city as soon as this week. Warships and submarines have been sent to the region over the past few days, while leaflets dropped on residents have warned of ‘annihilation’ if they fail to surrender.

Amr Salahi from Syria Solidarity UK is also at the protest. He said:
“We have to stop the bombs. We have to stop the attacks on schools, on hospitals, on aid workers. We have to act now to stop Russia and the regime wilfully killing children, mothers and fathers, the deliberate starving of the old, the deliberate targeting of doctors and nurses.

“The Russian government claims to be fighting terror, but bombing aid trucks is not fighting terror. They are inflicting terror on Syria and on all of us, and we reject their propaganda.”

“The bombing of Aleppo is not just an attack on Syrians. It is an attack on humanitarian law. The Russian government and Assad are shredding international agreements and laws that exist for the protection of all of us. To save Syria is to save ourselves.”

ENDS

For interviews contact: media@thesyriacampaign.org

A more detailed briefing on the action can be found here
Photos and video:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fi08j6pcqy5acsz/AACBgek-ssKe7oZXZTtB3DlMa?dl=0

NOTES

827 people have been killed in besieged Aleppo, 140 of them children, since September 20th according to rescue workers from the Syria Civil Defence, or White Helmets.

Last week the UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien described himself as ‘incandescent with rage’ over the current situation in Syria. He cited a leaflet, dropped on the residents of Aleppo by Syrian regime aircraft, which warned that they faced ‘annihilation’ if they refused to surrender.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/27/russia-and-syria-accused-of-planning-the-annihilation-of-aleppo/

The Times newspaper reported on Monday that the Russian government was planning a major new assault on Aleppo, according to leaked intelligence documents. Since then, the Russian government has issued a new ultimatum to residents of Aleppo suggesting that a major assault could begin as soon as this weekend.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/putin-set-to-launch-huge-attack-on-aleppo-ktrfqtq5r