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Thursday 18 April 2024

Remembering Brian Slocock

We are very sad to learn of the death of Brian Slocock, after a long illness. Brian was a founder member of Syria Solidarity. A Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Paisley, in retirement Brian committed himself to campaigning for a free Syria.

In 2014, Brian researched and wrote the content for our Syria’s Forgotten Cities campaign.

In 2015, he wrote for Syria Solidarity on music and solidarity, on Syria’s Freedom Charter, and on showing evidence to MPs of Assad’s systematic large-scale use of torture.

In January 2016, as horrific images of starvation were emerging from the besieged town of Madaya, it was Brian who first suggested we call for RAF airdrops of aid to civilians. That call was subsequently taken up by many others, including the late Jo Cox MP, and for a time it had some effect in helping pressure the Assad regime to allow more ground access to humanitarians.

Brian was also very involved in our outreach to UK trade unions, seeking solidarity with Syrian teachers whose schools were being targeted by Assad regime and Russian forces.

After Jo Cox was murdered in June 2016, Brian wrote about those who attacked her memory on both the political left and right, and who slandered the White Helmets, the Syrian rescue organisation that she had supported.

He will be greatly missed.

The funeral will take place at Chester Crematorium, Chester CH1 5BB, at 2pm on Tuesday 30th April. Brian asked for no flowers, but suggested donations to Médecins Sans Frontières in his name.

Friday 10 February 2023

End Russia’s veto on aid to Syria

Today, Syrians and friends of Syrians are writing to UK Government ministers calling for action to bring an end to Russia’s veto on aid to Syria.

The letter in full:

The Rt Honourable James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the UK

CC: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, The Rt Honourable Andrew Mitchell

10 February 2023

Dear Foreign Secretary,

Re. Humanitarian catastrophe in northwest Syria

We write urging you to do all possible to bring an end to Russia’s veto on aid to Syria. There is an urgent need to deliver aid and special equipment for search and rescue teams, as well as humanitarian aid for victims of both the earthquake and Assad’s war. There is also a growing consensus that there is no legal impediment to delivering cross-border aid. (www.crossborderislegal.org)

We welcome your public statement of Tuesday 7 February of additional support to the White Helmets, and the subsequent press release promising humanitarian help to Turkey and Syria, noting that “the UK is prioritising what the Turkish government and UN are asking for.”

But we see with shock and dismay that the only route being considered by the UN into non-government areas of Syria—the Bab Al Hawa border crossing—was out of operation for several days. The Assad regime is demanding that the only route for international aid is via Damascus. UN agencies, as well as the UK and its partners, know from extensive experience over the past twelve years how the regime in Damascus will block aid to non-government areas.

We call on the UK to take three steps:
  1. Work with the sovereign state of Turkey and with Coalition allies present in northeast Syria to bring emergency aid into northwest Syria outside of the UN system.

  2. Advocate the lifting of restrictions on cross-border aid routes at the UN Security Council.

  3. If Russia continues to block UN aid routes at the Security Council, work to bring about a General Assembly mandate for expanded cross-border aid delivery by any and all viable border crossings.
In these extreme circumstances, the UK and its allies must not be dictated to by rogue regimes on where and how to deliver humanitarian aid.

Action For Sama,
Syrian Legal Development Programme,
Syria Solidarity UK,