Three Syrian Peace Initiatives…and what you can do to help
Dear supporters of Palestine,
Later today, I will board a flight to Geneva to attend the Syrian International Conference for a Democratic Syria and a Civil State, which is sponsored by the Scandinavian Institute for Human Rights (SIHR), in collaboration with the Horan Citizen Forum and the Arab Commission for Human Rights. This is one of three initiatives from a larger number of groups committed to a nonviolent resolution to the Syrian conflict.
You don’t hear much about these groups, but they exist and they are important. Hopefully, you will hear much more as the warring parties find themselves in a stalemate and look for a peaceful alternative.
In addition to the Geneva conference, which brings together international delegates with representatives of the Syrian groups, two international delegations are planning to visit Syria in February.
The first of these is Mussalaha, a Syrian group that is dedicated to reconciling the Syrian factions and that has already interceded to achieve prisoner exchanges, release of hostages and other reconciliation actions at the local level. Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire is allied with this effort, which has also invited four members of the Global March to Jerusalem, including myself. The Syrian Christian community is very active in this initiative, along with other Syrian faith communities. The international delegates will visit Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Idlib as part of the week – long fact-finding mission 10-17 February.
The second delegation is from the International Peace Initiative for Syria (IPIS) This group has already sent two small fact-finding groups in September and November, 2012, and is now putting together a high-profile delegation to begin the task of negotiation and reconciliation. This group is also planning to go to Syria in mid-February.
We have no illusions. The task is not an easy one and there are many obstacles. However we have to start somewhere.
Here is how you can help.
None of these missions receives funding from any government source. Nevertheless, SIHR is funding my attendance at the Geneva convention, including airfare. The Mussalaha delegation will pay all expenses except airfare. The International Peace Initiative for Syria has already spent most of its meager funds, and its mission may be unable to pay the way of some major figures to attend. $1000 will enable one of our delegates to participate in the Mussalaha mission. $3000 will help all four attend. Each additional $1000 – $2000 will enable a major international figure to be in the IPIS delegation (depending upon country of origin).
Unfortunately, we cannot use existing FPM funds for this purpose. Until now, Syria is not part of the mission of the Free Palestine Movement, and its funds were donated for another purpose (currently the billboard ad campaign). We can therefore only use new funds donated specifically for this purpose. If you wish to help, please go to www.freepalestinemovement.org/donate.html and donate on line, but please specify that it is for the Syrian Peace Initiative. As usual, it’s tax deductible. If you are sending a check, please send it to:
FPM (Syrian Peace Initiative)
405 Vista Heights Rd.
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Many thanks for your continued support for peace in the Middle East.
Paul Larudee for the FPM Team
Some other Syrian peace groups dedicated to nonviolence:
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