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“Hands Off Syria” Applies to Russia Too: call for endorsements

We hope that you will join us in endorsing this letter. If so please email us with your name as you would like it to appear in the published version along with a brief (10 words or less) identifying phrase (e.g. job title, “Solidarity activist”, Blogger etc.) including your country of residence.
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"Hands Off Syria" Applies to Russia Too

As people and groups from many countries, united by a common commitment to peace, justice and human rights, we condemn the military offensive that began with air strikes launched by Russia in Syria on 30 September 2015 and accelerating subsequently.

While the Russian government has said that these operations were directed against the Islamic State (ISIS), most were on areas with no ISIS presence. The focus of the Russian military offensive appears to have been on opposition communities in the northern Homs region, a continuing center of resistance to the Assad Regime.

The victims of the Russian aggression on 30 September were predominantly civilians, including many children. Humanitarian conditions were dire in the area before Russia launched its offensive because it has long been under siege by the regime for its resistance.

The Assad Regime has wreaked havoc across Syria. The civil war it started by shooting democracy protesters has killed over a quarter-million Syrians, forced half the population from their homes and made millions of refugees. In the course of doing this, it has lost control of half the country. Although peace can never be restored by the regime that destroyed it, it would appear that Russia is now going to directly use its military might to further prop up a regime that would have collapsed years ago without foreign backing. This operation by Russian forces can only deepen the agony of the Syrian people, increase the flow of refugees, and strengthen the hand of extremist forces like ISIS.

Russian claims that its military escalation is legal are no more true than those used by the United States to justify its war against Vietnam. When the government that makes the invitation to invade is illegitimate, so is the invitation. The United States also bears responsibility for the catastrophe, as do all the regional and international stakeholders who have erased the aspirations and sacrifices of the Syrian people out of the narrative and replaced it with their own strategic needs and ambitions.

We condemn unequivocally both the brutal repressive actions of the Assad regime and these moves by Russia designed to prolong its life. If Russia wants a negotiated political transition in Syria, it has to stop assisting the regime’s brutality and wanton attacks on civilian targets, and stop encouraging the Assad regime’s persistent refusal to engage with any serious peace process. Attacks on civilian populations are in violation of international law. We call on the international community, national governments, and the United Nations to ensure the enforcement of UNSC Resolution 2139, to which Russia is a party, which provides that “All parties immediately cease all attacks against civilians, as well as the indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas.” We call on all those who are concerned with international peace and the defense of human rights to join us in speaking out against Russia’s callous actions by all means at your disposal – lobbying of your representatives, public demonstrations, public petitions and other forms of protest.