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Syria: Refugees and a Way to Peace

Joint statement from Senator Sekai Holland, 2012 Sydney Peace Prize recipient and Co Minister for Reconciliation, Healing & Integration in the Government of Zimbabwe, and Professor Stuart Rees AM Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation.


We make this statement in terms of our commitment to the needs of a common humanity, in particular regarding the suffering of citizens within Syria and regarding those who have become refugees.

In terms of the Syrian people’s legitimate demands for democratic reform, we encourage everyone to aim at celebrating those differences which would nurture a flourishing democracy. Those differences would include religious beliefs and loyalties, ethnic origin and culture. But they might also be differences in terms of traditions of hospitality, dress, food, music, great art and poetry.

We also encourage celebration of a common ground in terms of universal human rights, the sovereignty of a nation and responsibilities for the preservation of Syria’s unique heritage and for stewardship of the environment.

Our thoughts are dominated by a commitment to non violence, ‘ the law for Life’ as defined by Mahatma Gandhi. Such non violence includes not only a cease fire in the present conflict but also an end to the smuggling of arms inside and outside the country.

Non violence also means an end to authoritarianism of any kind, whether in dictatorship, hatred for minority groups or domestic violence. Only dialogue and commitment to non violence can start a process of peacebuilding and healing within Syria.

The plight of Syrian refugees must be high on the agenda of any peace proposals. Turkey’s welcoming and caring for refugees illustrates the commitment to a common humanity which prompts this statement. We urge affluent developed countries to consult and support Turkey and any other host countries for Syrian refugees as to the short term resources required to make the numerous tent cities livable.

As for the long term prospects for refugees, that depends on an end to the violence and persecution within Syria; and a commitment by all parties not only to peace but also to peace with justice?

 

December 6th, 2012

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