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Assad Resignation first Step to Peace and Democracy in Syria
Akbayan Party strongly condemns the continued violence and terror perpetrated by Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian government forces against Syrian citizens who have long demanded democracy and freedom from Assad’s authoritarian leadership. The Assad regime’s aggressive crackdown on pro-democracy forces has emboldened elements within the opposition to respond in a similarly destructive manner and has left Syria in a virtual state of civil war.
We also condemn the use of torture, arbitrary executions and other forms of war crimes by both the government and opposition forces. We voice our urgent concern over the growing strength of extremist elements within the opposition. Their equally uncompromising responses to the government crackdown and their exploitation of the power vacuum to assert their authority is very worrying, first because it undermines the pluralist, democratic nature of the Syrian people’s desire to change their government, and second because these groups are hostile to the rights of women. Akbayan believes that the road to change must not be riddled with bullets and landmines, it must instead be guided by the values of democracy and justice, accessible to all, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, or political orientation.
In over 16 months, this conflict has killed over 20,000 people, a majority of which are civilians; it has also produced over 2 million internally-displaced peoples, and has resulted into a humanitarian crisis. Health workers who serve victims of this crisis are also targets of government forces for treating suspected protesters and the opposition. Members of the press are likewise prohibited from airing reports regarding the state of affairs in Syria. Akbayan expresses our sympathy for all the victims of this civil war.
Akbayan is also gravely concerned about the safety of tens of thousands of foreign migrant workers caught in the conflict and unable to return home. Many of them are women domestic workers from Southeast Asia, including at least 17,000 Filipino workers, more than 90% of them undocumented.
The blood and suffering of the Syrian people are on Assad’s hands. Assad’s continued hold on power and his total-war footing remains the main security threat to Syrian democracy. To stem the tide of violence, Akbayan joins the Syrian people in calling for Assad to relinquish the presidency. This, we believe, is the first crucial step towards peace.
We also condemn the attempts of the United States and regional powers Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to intervene in Syria. This unwarranted intervention from the US serves only to fuel opposition retaliation on government forces, killing civilians in the crossfire. Consistent with the facts in recent history that is the result of America's meddling with Middle East democratization, a military response to conflict resolution is certainly not the way for peace.
Thus, we call on the western powers and their allies in the Middle East to refrain from mounting military expeditions in the guise of humanitarian efforts. We reiterate, such efforts will lead not to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, but to a geo-political showdown between pro- and anti- American forces, with no regard for the welfare of the Syrian people or democracy.
Akbayan supports a unified international response to Syria’s on-going war that would prevent the country’s descent into total collapse. In particular, we believe that Syria’s peaceful shift to democracy should be assisted by the United Nations. It is a matter of extreme urgency that the United Nations Security Council put in place an effective framework for political dialogue to mediate the crisis. This should lead to the creation of a transition government that includes representatives of the various pro-democracy political forces in Syria. Aside from keeping the peace, the transition government's main task should be the facilitation of democratic elections within a reasonable time frame. We urge the Philippine government to support the same.
Before it is too late, before circumstances on the ground disintegrate into a large-scale civil war, Akbayan believes that we members of the international community must work collectively to put an end to the tyranny, violence and injustice that the Syrian people have suffered under the Assad regime. We must work together to achieve peace, justice and democracy in Syria.