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Sept. 28, 2016

Dear Friend of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy,

          We are supporters of the democratic Syrian Revolution and opponents of military intervention from the outside. We oppose all attacks on civilians in Syria, whether committed by the Assad regime and its allies, by ISIS, by other jihadist groups, or by anyone else. We support the call for the removal of all foreign fighters from Syria: the anti-regime jihadis, the U.S. special ops forces, and the Turkish army, but also the Russians, Iranians, Hezbollah, and numerous Shiite militias backing Assad. It is a humanitarian and political imperative that the horrific bloodletting in Syria be brought to an end.

In peace and solidarity,
Joanne Tom
Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison
Co-Directors, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
New York, NY, USA


An Open Letter about Syria:
The Russia-US Bombing Deal Will Bring
Neither Peace Nor Justice
Sept. 21, 2016

Signers listed at bottom. If you'd like to add your name, please create an email with the subject "agree to letter on Russia-US deal." Include your full name and a line of identification. Send to:

There can be no doubt that the Syrian people have paid a terrible price for their struggle for freedom. They know the pain and suffering of being unable to feed their children, of being the targets of relentless and merciless bombing. We share their desire to see peace with justice in Syria. Unfortunately, the Kerry-Lavrov negotiations have thus far brought neither. The "agreement" being sold as a "peace deal" for Syria has thus far been a rotten bargain that extends the bombing. The wanton destruction of the aid caravan on September 19th brought the sorely unsuccessful "ceasefire" phase to a barbaric conclusion, and what is proposed to follow will be even worse - far worse.

The Assad regime's forces continued their attacks throughout the so-called "ceasefire" of September 12th-18th. The day after the deal was announced, a hundred people died from regime attacks. On September 16th, regime warplanes targeted and bombed the White Helmets’ Head Quarters in Al Tamanna, rendering it inoperable. 

The sieges that seek to impose submission to the regime through starvation still affect hundreds of thousands, and promises to allow aid convoys to reach the besieged areas during the "ceasefire" never materialised. This demonstrates beyond all doubt that only air-drops of food will prevent the mass starvation of entire populations under siege. 

Millions have been driven from their homes as a result of Putin and Assad’s bombing campaign. Tens of thousands rot in Assad's torture-to-death prisons. 

These issues must be addressed to bring peace through justice to Syria. An expansion of the targets to be bombed by the US Coalition, and cooperation in bombing these targets between the US and Russia, which objectively means cooperation with the Assad regime, cannot bring Syrians peace nor justice. 

We say: 

Stop the bombing! Don't expand it! 

End the sieges! #DropFoodNotBombs!

Immediate airdrops of food to the besieged! UN Aid must reach the people, not be diverted to supply a war criminal regime! Aid to the hungry is non-negotiable! 

The peace and antiwar opposition can offer a real alternative to the expansion of the militaristic, never-ending and phony "War on Terror" by calling for an end to all bombing, including US bombing, and calling upon Russia and Iran to withdraw all support for the brutal Assad regime. Support for this regime enables ethnic cleansing and merciless attacks on unarmed civilians, on a nightmarish scale that is experienced by Syrians living in areas outside of regime control as a targeted genocide of Sunni populations within the opposition - an experience which is amplified by Assad's subsequent sectarian re-population of areas from which the besieged have been driven from their homes. This strategy can do nothing but breed sectarian division within Syria. 

Assad and Putin's campaign of collective punishment of civilian populations has produced a terrible humanitarian crisis. Peace activists have an ethical responsibility to oppose these crimes against humanity. Our commitment to justice demands we challenge all attacks on the dignity and human rights of the Syrian people. To be silent is only to facilitate the attacks. 

The peace and antiwar opposition can further promote a just solution to the terrible war in Syria by insisting that legitimate negotiations must include representatives from the Syrian democratic opposition, and these negotiations should have as their goal the ending of the bombing, the lifting of the sieges, and the freeing of all political prisoners. 

The Obama administration is leading a military intervention in Syria, and more broadly in the Middle East under cover of the War on Terror. The War on Terror is not only a cynical cover for US intervention in the Middle East; experience has demonstrated that it is counterproductive as a strategy to fight terrorism. 

In Syria, the violent sectarian forces have grown in strength directly as a result of the devastation wrought by relentless bombing. The democratic opposition to both the dictatorship and the violently sectarian forces is being crushed under barrel bombs, cruise missiles, cluster and phosphorus munitions, napalm and chemical weapons attacks. The peace and antiwar opposition can stand in solidarity with the democratic struggle by demanding an end to all bombing by all parties. 

The strategy of combating violent sectarianism through drone strikes and bombing results in the death of innocent civilians and is a recipe for a never-ending war. 

Without a single bomber dropping a single bomb, a major blow could be struck against violent sectarian forces by ending all military aid to the dictatorship in Egypt and to Israel, whose militaries should not be recipients of aid, and in an urgently needed display of human solidarity, redirecting the aid to provide for besieged Gaza and the Syrian refugees. Across the region external powers have been working to support undemocratic and oppressive regimes, whether in Yemen, Egypt, or Palestine. Under the Kerry-Lavrov deal, Washington and Moscow will be collaborating to maintain Assad in power. Solidarity with the democratic struggles is the alternative to occupations, war, dictatorships and violent sectarianism. 

In solidarity, 
Note: Organizations mentioned for identification only 
Ann Eveleth, freelance journalist and activist, David Finkel, managing editor AGAINST THE CURRENT, Dan Fischer, Dragonfly Climate Collective, Bill Fletcher, Jr., talk show host, writer & activist, The Rev. David W. Good,Minister Emeritus for The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme President, Tree of Life Educational Fund,  Thomas Harrison, Co-Director Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Howie Hawkins, Green Party Syracuse, New York, Stanley Heller, Promoting Enduring Peace, Middle East Crisis Committee, Joanne Landy, Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Lama Abu Odeh, Georgetown Law Professor, Fred Mecklenburg, News and Letters Committees, Yasser Munif, Global Campaign in Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution, Andrew Pollack, MENA Solidarity Network-US, Bishop John Selders, Jr., Bishop Presider, Amistad UCC, Pastor, Moral Monday, Stephen R. Shalom, New Politics, Ashley Smith, International Socialist Organization (ISO), David Turpin, Jr., Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Self Determination, Ella Wind, New York University, MENA Solidarity Network
and additional signers:
Ian Sherwood, Citizen of Connecticut, Tanya M. Monforte, O'Brien Fellow, McGill Law School, Gloria Careaga, professor at National University of Mexico, UNAM, Sonia Corrêa, research associate at the Brazilian Interdisciplinary Association, for AIDS, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Dennis van Wanrooij, Red Umbrella Fund, Oishik Sircar, Lawyer and Academic, India, Amina Ali, New York, NY, Jenny Peek, a Candidate for Ministry with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), Scott Long, Human rights activist, Terry Burke, Committee in Solidarity with the People of Syria (CISPOS), Andrew Berman, US Army 1971-73, member Veterans for Peace, Jumana Shammout, MD, Pediatric gastroenterologist, Neha Sood, activist and consultant, Joe Kelly, Toronto, ON, Joseph Daher, Swiss-Syrian activist, editor SyriaFreedomForever site, Cheryl Seelhoff, writer and activist, Joyce C. Rawitscher, Co-Clerk, Witness Support Committee, Storrs (CT) Friends Meeting Convener, Israel/Palestine Peace Group of Northeastern Connecticut, Nefous Nabulsi, MD, Pediatrician, Kimberly Stoner, Secretary of the Board, Promoting Enduring Peace, Yasmeen Mobayed, New York University, Dan La Botz, Co-Editor, New Politics, Samuel Farber, Professor Emeritus Political Science Brooklyn College of CUNY, Ken Hiebert, Palestine solidarity activist, Ladysmith, BC, Canada, Farouk Belal, Independent activist based in Washington DC

To add your name to this letter create an email with the subject "agree to letter on Russia-US deal". Include your full name and a line of identification. Send to:

Note: This is a statement on behalf of its signers, not of identifying organizations.

Syrian Writers, Artists, and Journalist Speak Out
Against US and Russian Policy

By Syrian Writers, Artists, and Journalists Against US and Russian Policies in Syria

Airstrikes in Syria
A man carries an injured child after airstrikes on a rebel-held neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, September 21, 2016. (Reuters / Abdalrhman Ismail)

A group of 150 Syrian intellectuals, composed mostly of writers, artists, academics, and journalists, all identifying themselves as secular democratic opponents of the Syrian regime, have issued the statement below to express their condemnation of the role played by both Washington and Moscow in their country. The signatories include globally known figures such as Paris Sorbonne professor Burhan Ghalioun, who was the first chairperson of the Syrian National Council in 2011-12; award-winning novelist Samar Yazbek, whose works are published in many languages; famous Syrian intellectual Sadik Jalal Al-Azm; Farouk Mardam-Bey, a writer who edits the most important collection dedicated to the Arab world in France; playwright Mohammad Al-Attar; and Yassin al-Haj Saleh, a prominent independent voice in the Syrian opposition.

We the undersigned are democratic and secular Syrian writers, artists, and journalists who have opposed the tyrannical Assad regime for years, even decades. We are participants in the struggle for democracy and justice in our country, our region and in the world. We unreservedly, and in the strongest language, condemn the Russian and US approach of intervening in our internal Syrian affairs. At least since 2013, these two powers have been working to co-opt the Syrian liberation struggle under the rubric of the “war against terror.” This is a war that has failed to score a single success since its outset, and has led instead to the destruction of a number of countries.

Three years ago the two imperialist nations signed a reprehensible deal on chemical weapons that resolved a problem for the United States, Israel, and Russia, and even for the Assad regime, which had just murdered 1,466 of its subjects. The deal however did not resolve any of the problems facing the Syrian people. Rather it gave free rein to an extremely criminal regime that kills Syrians, destroys their villages and communities, and drives them into exile. The deal has also proved to be a priceless gift to Islamist nihilistic groups like Daesh and Jabhat an-Nusra. Three years into this contemptible deal—with the death count now at around half a million Syrians—Russians and Americans have agreed to freeze the current situation so that the two military powers can carry on their endless war against terror. The agreement remains silent on the untold number of detainees held in brutal conditions, and includes no call for lifting the blockade on besieged areas, or the withdrawal of Iran, the Hezbollah militia, or any other sectarian militia. It is also devoid of any reference to the concept of a new and democratic Syria. Nor are the warplanes of Bashar al-Assad restrained from bombing areas that will ultimately be the subject of a later agreement between Russia and the United States. Not only does this show complete lack of a moral sense of justice on the part of the Russian and American negotiating teams, it also exposes the degradation of politics and the lowly level of officials in the two most powerful nations in the world today.

Our feelings of anger over these agreements and their authors know no bounds. And we reject them absolutely. We are also disappointed in the United Nations, angered that, as was recently revealed, it has been financing the criminal oligarchy of Assad and his cronies throughout their war against the Syrians.

As Syrian writers, artists, and journalists, we see the world today heading toward an unprecedented numbing of ethics. Levels of fear and hatred escalate in parallel with the increasing visibility of politicians who invest in the same feelings of fear, hatred, and isolationism. We see democracy in retreat around the world, while surveillance, control, and fear are rife and advancing. We do not believe that our fate is defined by these conditions, but rather that these are a result of dangerous choices taken by dangerous political elites, and that we must work together to voice our opposition to them, right now and wherever we may be.

A destroyed Syria is the symbol of the state of the world today. The Syrian revolution was broken against the solid wall of the international community, and not only against the wall of the forces aligned with Assadist fascism. This international community allows politicians like Obama and Putin, along with their agents and clones—people lacking all sense of humanity—to take decisions that violate our right to self-determination, as individuals and groups but also as a nation. We have not elected them, and we have no access to any mechanism that can call them to account. This is an unfair system that fiercely opposes democracy. Therefore it must change.

Unfortunately, there seems to be too little awareness of how hazardous reality has become. Many, especially in the West, prefer to hide behind fatalistic theories steeped in religion or culture—when they do not attribute events to climate change. This explains why a bad situation has become much worse, but it also absolves the powerful elite, including Bashar al-Assad and his gang, of their political responsibilities.

This world must change. In just five and a half years, it has allowed the destruction of one of the most ancient cradles of civilization. The world today is a Syrian problem, just like Syria today is a world problem. And for the sake of this world, for all our sakes, we call for the condemnation of the politicians responsible for this disaster and for their exposure as nihilistic murderers and terrorists, similar to their arch-rivals in the Islamist nihilistic camp.

The Signatories
Ibrahim al-Jabin, Novelist, journalist
Ahmad Barqawi, Philosopher
Ahmad Hasso, Journalist
Ahmad Omar, Writer
Ahmad Isha, Translator
Usama Muhammad, Film director, screenwriter
Usama Nassar, Journalist, activist
Assaad al-Ashi
Islam Abu Shakir, Story-teller
Anas Yusef, Physician
Anwar al-Omar
Anwar Omran
Aws al-Mubarak, Writer
Iyad Hayatleh, Poet
Iyad Abdullah, Writer
Ilaf Yassin, Journalist
Iman Shaker
Aya al-Atassi, Journalist
Basil al-Awdat, Journalist
Badr al-Din Arudaki, Writer, translator
Burhan Ghalioun, Writer, academic
Bakr Sidqi, Writer, journalist
Tammam Hunaydi, Poet
Jamal Said, Writer
Jamil Nahra, Novelist
Jihad Yaziji, Economist
Hazem Kamal al-Din
Hazem Nahar, Writer
Hizam Zohur Uday, Writer, journalist
Husam al-Saad, Academic
Husam al-Din Muhammad, Writer, journalist
Hasko Hasko, Artist
Hasan Shahut, Poet
Hala Omran, Actress
Hikmat Shata, Engineer, artist
Khaled Sulayman al-Nasseri, Poet, filmmaker
Khodor al-Agha, Writer
Khatib Badla, Writer
Khaldun al-Shamaa, Literary critic
Khalaf Ali al-Khalaf, Poet
Khalil al-Haj Saleh, Translator
Khayri al-Zahabi, Writer, novelist
Dara al-Abdullah, Writer
Durayd al-Bayk, Journalist, engineer
Dima Wannous, Writer, journalist
Raed Wahsh, Poet
Rateb Shabo, Writer, translator
Rashid Issa, Journalist
Rustom Mahmud, Syrian writer, researcher
Rasha Abbas, Story-teller
Rasha Omran, Poet
Rashid al-Haj Saleh, Writer
Rosa Yassin Hasan, Writer
Rima Flayhan, Writer, activist
Zahir Omareen, Writer
Zoya Bustan, Journalist
Samer al-Ahmad, Journalist
Saad Haju, Caricaturist
Said Ghazul, News editor
Samar Yazbek, Novelist
Samih Shuqair, Artist
Samih al-Safadi, Writer
Salam al-Kawakibi, Writer, researcher
Salam Muhammad, Screenwriter
Sulayman al-Buti,
Charbel Kanoun, Photographer
Sadik Jalal al-Azm, Thinker
Sadik Abdul Rahman, Writer
Safi Ala al-Din, Publisher
Subhi Hadidi, Writer, literary critic
Subhi Halima, Writer, journalist
Dahir Ita, Writer
Duha Hasan, Writer
Duha Ashour, Writer
Talib al-Ali, Writer
Talal Daqmaq, Photographer
Adil al-Ayed, Journalist
Asim al-Basha, Sculptor
Asim Hamsho, Writer
Abdul Rahman Matar, Writer
Abdul Rahim Khalifa, Political and human rights activist
Abdul Aziz al-Tammo, Syrian Kurdish writer, politician
Abdullah Turkmani, Researcher
Abdullah Maksur, Novelist
Urwa al-Ahmad, Journalist, actor
Assaf al-ʿAssaf, Writer
Ali Diab
Ali Safar, Writer, journalist
Ali al-Ayed, Journalist
Imad Huriyyah, Theater critic
Imad Obaid, Artist
Ammar al-Jumaa, Poet
Ammar Qat, Journalist
Omar al-Asaad, Journalist
Omar Kaddour, Novelist
Omar Kush, Writer
Ghassan al-Muflih, Journalist
Ghayyath al-Madhoun, Poet
Fadi Dioub, Activist
Fares el-Helou, Actor
Farouk Mardam-Bey, Writer, publisher
Fayez al-Basha, Physician
Fayez al-Abbas, Poet
Fadwa Kilani, Poet
Faraj Bayrakdar, Poet
Fuad Muhammad Fuad, Professor, poet
Qusay Assef al-Shuwaikh, Engineer
Karim al-Afnan, Journalist
Luay Skaff, Engineer
Laila Safadi, Journalist
Lina Atfa, Poet
Majid Rashid al-Ouayd, Novelist, writer
Majid Matrud, Poet, critic
Mazen Haddad, Engineer
Mazen Darwish, Human rights activist
Malik Daghistani, Writer
Mamoun al-Shari, Writer
Mahir Junaydi, Writer, journalist
Mahir Massud, Writer
Muhammad Haj Bakri, Economic researcher, writer
Muhammad al-Haj Saleh, Writer
Muhammad Khalifa, Writer, researcher
Muhammad al-Abdullah, Syrian lawyer, activist
Mohammad al-Attar, Playwright
Marwan al-Atrash, Engineer
Mustafa Suleyman, Artist
Mubid al-Hassun, Writer
Mufid Najm, Poet
Malaz al-Zoabi, Journalist
Mansour al-Sulti, Theater actor, director
Munhil Barish, Journalist
Munir al-Khatib, Writer
Maurice Ayiq, Writer
Musa Rammo, Artist
Maya Sharbaji, Artist
May Skaf, Actress
Michel Shammas, Lawyer, human rights activist
Mikhail Saad, Writer
Nahed Badawia, Writer
Najat Murshid, Teacher
Nashwan Atassi, Writer
Nouri al-Jarrah, Poet
Hala Mohammad, Poet, film director
Hala Alabdalla, Filmmaker
Hind Muri
Hushang Usi, Writer
Haytham Abdallah, Translator
Wael Tamimi, Journalist
Wael Marza, Writer
Wijdan Nassif, Writer
Wafai Layla, Poet
Yara Badr, Journalist
Yasser Munif, Academic
Yassin Suwayha, Writer
Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Writer
Yamin Hussein, Journalist
Yusef Duays, Writer, journalist