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February 6th, 2012

Stop the violence in Syria – prevent war!

Appeal to the Syrian government and the armed opposition as well as to their international supporters

For weeks, there have been an increasing number of reports of escalating violence in Syria. According to the UN, thousands of people have already lost their lives. And according to the international media, various plans already exist and are still being forged for a military intervention by the West.

Yesterday at the Munich Security Conference, Tawakkul Karman, the Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize recipient, justifiably demanded that international measures be taken to protect people in Syria from the escalating violence. Her view of the situation overlooks, however, the fact that Russia and China do not by any means reject such measures. On the contrary, Russia has stated that it would support a UN resolution on Syria if it rules out any external military intervention and demands a halt to violence not only on the part of the Syrian government, but also from the opposition. In contrast to the picture painted by the Western media, the responsibility for yesterday’s failure of the resolution in the UN Security Council should in no way be placed solely with Russian and China, but also to a large extent with the West, which for weeks has consistently rejected a peace-oriented formulation of the resolution.

As members of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, we are deeply concerned about the large and growing number of victims of violence in Syria, including a great many individuals not directly involved in the conflict. Numerous physicians, as well others contributing to the care of the injured, are affected. We, as the German section of the IPPNW, also want to raise the alarm about an additional danger. A Western military intervention could set a process in motion that would involve other countries, such a Iran, and thereby lead to a conflagration in the whole region – and one which borders directly with Europe. If NATO becomes involved, this could even result in an open confrontation between the nuclear superpowers.

There is growing evidence that the domestic Syrian conflict, as well as the struggle for democracy and the rule of law, is being increasingly exploited and exacerbated by external players for their own political aims. Apparently, it is not only the Syrian government that has been supported with weapons, in this case provided by Russia, but Syrian rebels, too, have received both large sums of money from Western allied Gulf states as well as weapons from the Turkish NATO base in Incirlik. They have been supported by foreign mercenaries, including some from Libya. Many people in Syria and, in particular, peaceful opposition groups have complained that these developments have destroyed any prospects for peaceful change that have been advanced for years by the reform movement. The result is an ever-greater bloodbath between the parties in this civil war and an increasing number of civilian victims. Those who hold the view that it is legitimate to exacerbate the domestic conflict in Syria in order to bring about regime change in Damascus, make it easier to forment a war with Iran, or even to deprive Russia of its naval base on the Mediterranean, leave themselves open to the accusation that they are involved in the preparation of a war by proxy and thereby are guilty of a crime against humanity.

As members of the physicians’ peace organization IPPNW, we therefore appeal:

  • to NATO and, in particular, to the German government:         
    Undertake measures to immediately halt the secret transfer of Western weapons to Syria! Clearly reject all plans for a Western military intervention in Syria! Embargos are also not a solution. Instead, attempt to bring about an agreement with all parties and especially reach out to Russia!
  • to the Russian government:         
    Immediately introduce your own resolution proposal to the UN Security Council based on a thoroughgoing peaceful approach. This includes not only refraining from any further arming of the Syrian opposition, but also of the Syrian government. This requires increased efforts to initiate peaceful alternatives, such as international talks with all interested parties to the conflict!
  • to the Arab League:
    Resume your observer mission. And increase its prospects for success by appealing to all participant countries: Similar to the superpowers, please immediately halt all activities that foster violence in Syria and instead promote all possible approaches towards a peaceful solution!
  • to the Syrian government and opposition:          
    Distance yourselves from unachievable maximum demands and accept negotiations. Only in this way can you prevent your country from sinking into the bloodbath of a proxy war fuelled by foreign interests! Stop the destruction of your country’s civilian infrastructure and stop all attacks on hospitals, doctors, and other medical personnel!

Physicians fight for peace.
Because war destroys life and health.
And war destroys human rights.
War does not create peace.

The German Section of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Nobel Peace Prize recipient for 1985

Read in: [Persian]  [Spanish] [German]


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