Support Syrian People on their Day of Anger sign now

Tuesday February 1, 2011

Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
And all other human rights organizations
United Nations Secretary General
US President
Presidents of the European Union Member States

We are witnessing massive popular uprisings in the Arab world. Citizens of authoritarian states appear to have reached a turning point in which their frustration with unaccountable government outweighs their fear of repressive reprisals by such governments. Many are taking to the streets to express their will to replace authoritarian regimes with accountable and transparent government.

Before the Tunisian populaces newfound sense of efficacy and commitment to ethical means of protest, a dictatorship of longevity stumbled, then folded. We have reason to hope that we will soon witness the construction, in Tunisia, of a form of government that is accountable, transparent, and possesses not only a commitment to social and economic justice, but a mechanism to transfer real power peacefully and repeatedly at meaningful intervals.

The courage of the Tunisian people has inspired a will to similar change among populations across the Arab world. Could the successful grass-roots uprising that just happened in Tunisia, and the attempt at another such overthrow that may be unfolding in Egypt, happen in Syria? We have received reports from inside Syria that nonviolent demonstrations are planned in the coming days of early February. We do not yet know how big or small these protests will be. We urge them to take non-violence, non-sectarianism, and ethical integrity as watchwords.

We write to alert you to the fact that unique obstacles endanger a grass-roots uprising in Syria. The armed forces in Tunisia took a neutral position and refused to attack the people. We urge the state security forces in Syria to demonstrate such self-restraint.

Besides the army and other regular state security forces, our sources in Syria report that a large number of civilian youths who are close to the regime are currently receiving weapons and training to put down any such uprising in Syria. We thus have credible reason to fear that non-violent uprising by Syrian citizens could still result in civilian casualties. We regard the Syrian populace, overwhelmingly unarmed, as vulnerable to severe reprisals for protest. Sectarian prejudices, not a factor in Tunisia, could, unfortunately, play a negative role in Syria. We urge both Syrian protestors and the Syrian regime to demonstrate a commitment to non-sectarianism in the days ahead.

As Syrian Americans, Syrian Europeans, and Syrians living abroad, we believe it is important for our voices to be heard by international human rights agencies, by the governments in the countries of our residence, and by media organizations outside Syria. Many of our families still live in Syria under dictatorship. We have a responsibility to advocate for those Syrians inside Syria whose freedom of expression and mobility is restricted. We do not wish to see bloodshed by the Syrian regime, which possesses a disproportionately large repressive apparatus.

We ask you to stand on the right side of history if protest begins in Syria in these times.

We ask those of you who are representatives of European and North American governments to lift any protection you provide to the current regime of Syria.

History has taught us that the Syrian regime will attempt to disable means of communication if any uprising begins in Syria. Telephone and internet connections will be jeopardized and Syrian television and radio will not be broadcasting conscientious coverage of civil uprising. We urge media organizations to be prepared for possible regime attempts to blockade information, and to seek continued access to information about whatever transpires in Syria in the coming period.

We ask international human rights agencies to use every available resource you have at your disposal a) to monitor the conditions of those already in political prison inside Syria and b) to monitor very closely any actions taken by the government in response to new expression of dissent by Syrian citizens in the coming period.

Please feel free to contact us through Iyas Maleh, who is serving as ad-hoc contact person for our diverse and diffuse group of voices at this time.


Signatories: Country of Residence
Iyas Haitham Maleh US
Dr. Radwan Ziadeh US
Dr. Najib Ghadbian US
Dr. Ayham Haddad US
Dr. Fehmi Khairullah US
Dr. Saleh Mubarak US
Maysoon Mubarak US
Hamzeh Ghadban US
Mohja Kahf US
Yaman Kahf US
Dr. Maher Arar Canada
Badreldin Kurabi Canada
Hassan Hachimi Canada
Mohamad Khatib Canada
Abdulkader Sheikh Elzor Canada
Dr. Nael Georges France
Mohammad Askaf France
Dr. mahmoud el-saied el-doghim UK
Anas Abdah UK

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