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Protect civilians in Syria

Please ask your local candidates to support policies to protect civilians in Syria.

Syrian community groups in the UK have drawn up a list of pledges on Syria for candidates to consider.

They include proposals to hold war criminals accountable, to get aid to besieged civilians, and to end the bombing.

Supporting these pledges could help protect civilians and allow a space for peace.

An election manifesto on Syria

The international community has failed to protect civilians in Syria.

The Syrian conflict is still ongoing after more than six years. We have witnessed the gassing of children; the deliberate targeting of hospitals, schools, markets, and bakeries; the starvation sieges of civilian communities; the forced displacement of entire towns; and the drowning of refugees at sea.

If elected MP, I pledge to:

1. Affirm the democratic right of Syrians to choose their own future free from dictatorship and terror.
2. Call for the UK to track and publish details of military aircraft flights by the Assad regime and Russia that may be responsible for unlawful attacks on civilians.
3. Call for drone aid airdrops to besieged civilians to provide immediate relief and add pressure for full ground access.
4. Call for the UK to help enforce an end to attacks against civilian targets by the Assad regime and its allies.
5. Call for widened sanctions against the Assad regime and its supporters for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
6. Call for the UK to pursue all avenues to bring perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice, including through universal jurisdiction as well as international legal mechanisms.
7. Call for the UK to pursue a ‘Uniting for Peace’ vote in the UN General assembly recommending action to protect civilians.
8. Demand the highest standards of accountability of all our Coalition partners for air strikes taking place in Syria.

Who wrote these pledges?

These pledges have been agreed by Syrian community groups and activists across the UK:

Rethink Rebuild Society Manchester, Syrian Association of Yorkshire, Syria Solidarity UK, Kurds House, Syrian Community of the South West, Syrian Platform for Peace, Scotland4Syria, Syrian Welsh Society, Help 4Syria UK, Peace and Justice for Syria, and Syria Society of Nottinghamshire.

Why are we calling for these pledges?

  1. The Syrian crisis began with ordinary Syrians calling for civil rights and political reform. Their protests were met with gunfire, mass arrests, torture and killing by the Assad regime.

    Syrian refugees fear to return as long as the regime remains in power.

    The Assad regime has a history of promoting terrorist groups, including Iranian and Hezbollah militias, and now uses them against its own civilians. This is why only democratic political reform can end the Syrian crisis.

  2. The UK has the technology to track Syrian and Russian aircraft carrying out attacks in violation of UN resolutions, ceasefires, or international humanitarian law. We can publish radar data on attacks, as the US did for the regime’s 4 April 2017 chemical attack, so that perpetrators can be identified and sanctioned.

  3. The UK along with other countries promised a year ago to airdrop aid to besieged civilians, but then broke that promise. Since then thousands more Syrians have been forced from their homes. Unmanned drone systems are capable of dropping food and medical aid.

  4. The US retaliation in response to the 4 April 2017 chemical attack shows that it is possible to deter the Assad regime and its allies. Non-chemical attacks are still killing many more civilians, and yet we fail to act.

    Force should be used if necessary and against carefully targeted military installations of the Assad regime. Any use of force should be for the sole purpose of civilian protection, should be proportional, and should comply with international humanitarian law.

  5. Sanctions should be widened by sanctioning officers of regime military allies implicated in war crimes; by designating militias implicated in systematic attacks against civilians as terrorist organisations; and by sanctioning companies such as Iranian airlines used to supply the regime with arms.

  6. The UN General Assembly has established a body to prepare prosecutions. That body needs to be supported and means to try cases need to be established.
    EU Resolution 2016/2933 called on members to ‘take all necessary measures to hold alleged perpetrators to account, including through universal jurisdiction.’

    Tens of thousands have been tortured and killed in Assad’s prisons. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed still detained, including thousands of women and children. Releasing detainees and opening detention centres to inspection are essential measures before any political negotiation can advance.

  7. Russian vetoes in the Security Council have paralysed international action. A Uniting for Peace vote can recommend legal and legitimate international action through the UN General Assembly where Russia has no veto.

  8. Civilian deaths from Coalition bombing have escalated drastically since December 2016, but the Coalition has only a few staff investigating casualties. The UK is co-responsible for Coalition actions and their consequences and must demand the highest standards of accountability for the entire Coalition.