An urgent alert from the US Section of the
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

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Dear WILPF Members and Friends,

Photo: A girl cries near a damaged car at a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Aleppo's Dahret Awwad neighborhood. January 29, 2014. Credit: Freedom House. tinycc/SyriaFreedom

This WILPF US Section Public Statement on Syria is being published on our website and on our Facebook page; we are also sending it to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry.

We urge you to read the Statement and to distribute it and take action as you can in your communities. Here are some ideas, and we encourage everyone with a Facebook account to take action on the first point below, in particular. 
  • If you are a Facebook user, please go to our Facebook page and LIKE the posting of our Statement on Syria and then SHARE it on your Facebook page.
  • Download a copy of the Statement on Syria that is presented here in Acrobat format, and mail it to your Congressional Representative with a request that your Congress Member support our positions and requested actions. This federal government website allows you to find contact information for your representatives in the House and Senate.
  • If you are a branch or group member and have other members in your branch or group who do not receive our emails, share copies of the Statement on Syria with them and request that they distribute copies of it and take other action as they can AND educate yourselves and caucus at branch/group meetings to come up with ideas on actions and educational opportunities in your communities.
  • Share copies of the Statement on Syria with kindred organizations and friends in your communities.
  • Write one or more Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper in support of the Statement on Syria, perhaps summarizing a few points of the text and including the action points enumerated.
  • Time-honored activism such as leafleting in public places and public marches or demonstrations, especially in community with kindred people and organizations, is always a way to get out our messages.
  • If you are not already a member of the email listservs for one or more of these three issues committees, consider becoming a member and also participating in our periodic telephone conference meetings.
Please direct any feedback you may have on this Statement on Syria to Odile Hugonot Haber[i] - odilehh(at)gmail(dot)com or Barbara Nielsen[ii]  - bln(dot)sf(dot)ca(at)gmail(dot)com, who will forward and distribute your comments or questions to the principle drafting group. This Statement on Syria was undertaken collaboratively, with principal first drafting done by Barbara Taft[iii] <#_edn3> , co-chair of the Middle East Committee (Odile is the other co-chair), and is being presented after thoughtful and lively research, analyses, deliberation, editing and consensus among members active in our DISARM-End Wars, Middle East and Advancing Human Rights issues committees, then recommended through our two standing national Program Committee chairs, Maureen Eke[iv] and Odile to Section President Mary Hanson Harrison[v], who approved it on behalf of the Section. 

[i] Ann Arbor, Michigan branch 
[ii] San Francisco, California branch 
[iii] Greater Phoenix, Arizona branch 
[iv] At-Large, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan 
[v] Des Moines, Iowa branch 

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, United States Section (WILPF US), makes the following statement regarding the ongoing situation in Syria:
We recognize that the intervention of foreign powers in the fighting within the nation of Syria has served to escalate, rather than to diminish, the level of hostilities. We specifically call upon our own United States of America (USA) government to cease the delivery of weapons and its active participation in the fighting in Syria, and to stop all arms transfers. We make this request considering the grave humanitarian situation on the ground, which we believe is being exacerbated by USA participation. We recognize that other nations are also involved in similar ways, and we would hope that military withdrawal by the USA might encourage others to do likewise.
We believe that the only solution to the crisis in Syria is one which is led by the Syrian people themselves. We realize that the complexity of the situation is difficult for outsiders to understand. We also do not believe that any single group or faction has all the answers. What we do know is that Syrian civilians are being left with few options, that many have fled their homes and are living elsewhere as refugees, and that others have either died in the hostilities or are slowly dying of starvation. We abhor the loss of life and the indignities to home, family and life itself that are the result of this current situation. We call for an immediate ceasefire and the lifting of all blockades that prevent food and medical supplies from entering as well as Syrians who wish to leave from doing so. We also condemn the bombing of hospitals and schools, heinous acts in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. We call for an increase in humanitarian aid to the population at risk and continued assistance for the refugees. We hope that all other nations involved in the conflict, including but not limited to Russia, Iran and Turkey, will also cease any arms shipments or military engagement in Syria. We urge and support a universal goal of the de-escalation and immediate cessation of armed conflict in Syria.
We agree with Middle East scholars and other experts, including USA military personnel, who are strongly opposed to a no-fly zone, which they claim could very probably lead to a war with Russia. We also believe a no-fly zone would prevent necessary humanitarian aid from being delivered to the people still living in Syria, and would be antithetical to the goal of immediate cessation of conflict in Syria. The USA must do all in its power to bring the war in Syria to an end before thousands more Syrian citizens are killed or become refugees. We urge that the USA immediately cease its involvement in supporting any military action in Syria in any form and take on, in addition to working to provide food and medical aid, the encouragement of the parties to participate in peace talks once a ceasefire has taken hold.
Our hope, indeed, our demand, is that the Syrian people themselves will be able to decide who should be their legitimate leadership. The rights of the Syrians to engage in self-determination without outside interference, as set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic on April 21, 1969, that came into force under the authority of the United Nations, effective March 23, 1976, need to be recognized and protected. We urge the USA government to remove its presence in all forms of interference with the sovereignty of the Syrian people, which we hope will allow those Syrians who had fled their country to be able to begin repatriating; and we urge our government immediately to open our national borders to accept Syrian refugees in large numbers, at least until such time as it is safe for them to return home and at such time as there is a "home" for them to be able to return to.
Therefore, we urge the USA government to take the following actions:
  1. Withdraw from all fighting within Syria and elsewhere that is having an impact on Syria and work for a ceasefire there; and under no circumstances attempt to undertake a "no-fly zone" of any kind over or around Syria;
  2. Work in coalition with other nations to agree not to provide military support of any kind to or for Syria;
  3. Provide humanitarian aid and allow medicine and food and supplies to be delivered via air or other means to the Syrian people (which also means choosing not to establish or utilize any USA-devised "no-fly" zone);
  4. Take no action that would impede the safe passage or movement of Syrians who have left Syria and/or are returning to Syria and/or those Syrians who wish to leave;
  5. Immediately allow large numbers of displaced Syrians into the USA for refuge, and provide the federal financial and infrastructural resources necessary to assist localities in sheltering and sustaining these refugees;
  6. Encourage, without attempting to co-opt, the process of bringing the Syrian parties to peace negotiations;
  7. Assist in the rebuilding of Syrian infrastructure - its buildings and public works systems in particular - by providing material support, with "no strings attached;" and
  8. Reaffirm the human and sovereign rights of all Syrians and act accordingly toward them.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom/US Section
11 Arlington Street | Boston, MA 02116 | 617-266-0999 |