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Friday 3 June 2016

Pro-Assad speaker re-invited to Lesvos refugee conference

Picture: Tim Anderson meeting Assad in Damascus, December 2013.

The organisers of Crossing Borders have re-invited pro-Assad speaker Tim Anderson to their refugee conference due to take place on the island of Lesvos in July.

Anderson’s shameful record on Syria has been detailed by journalist Andrea Glioti who documented how he abused his position to act as a propagandist for the Assad regime, providing cover for Assad’s campaign of mass murder and gross violations of human rights.

When academic Maria Nikolakaki was asked by Syria Solidarity UK why Anderson had been re-invited despite his clear pro-regime stance, his links to the regime, and the opposition to his appearance from other conference speakers, her only reply was to share a petition initiated by the pro-Assad, US-based Syria Solidarity Movement protesting Anderson’s initial removal. The petition had been signed by 270 people.

The fact that Anderson has been re-invited shows clearly that some of the conference organisers have some sympathy with his views. This also helps explain the complete absence of any Syrian speakers at the conference, despite Syrians making up a majority of the refugees fleeing to Europe.

When researchers from the Berlin Social Science Center surveyed Syrian refugees in Germany in September 2015 they found the vast majority were fleeing the violence of the Assad regime. You can’t be pro refugees and at the same time defend the tyrant who causes them to flee.

Giving an Assad apologist a platform brings into doubt the aims and legitimacy of this conference. Pro-Assad speakers should not be given a platform at refugee events, and to participate in the conference while Anderson remains a speaker is to be complicit in an attempt to rehabilitate the Assad regime and its supporters.

We now call on all other conference participants to withdraw from the Crossing Borders conference.


Crossing Borders conference, Lesvos, 7-10th July. Sponsored by Stop the War Coalition (UK), Peoples' Assembly Against Austerity, Real News Network, Stopimperialism.org.

To the participants and organisers of the ‘Crossing Borders’ Conference, open letter from Syrian groups in the UK and others, 22 May 2016.

Dr. Tim “Asad” Anderson: the abuse of academia to spread out propaganda, by Andrea Glioti, 23 May 2014.

Care about refugees? Listen to them: A survey of Syrian refugees in Germany, The Syria Campaign, 9 October 2015.