Syria Solidarity International January 20 Statement
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“Answer” Trump's Racism & Islamophobia: Build Solidarity with the Syrian Democratic Revolution!
Democracy is the Alternative to the Phony War on Terror, Sectarian Violence and Dictatorships!
The handover of power in Washington DC this week will inaugurate a deeply unpopular president-elect Trump into the White House, and a new era of unprecedented threats to hard-won civil liberties and basic democratic rights across the country. Trump has capitalized on economic despair and justified anger against trade deals that hurt working people, and is attempting to channel this ire into a narrow chauvinist fervor, blaming the country’s woes on marginalised groups and public policies that benefit the poor. People of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, working people, and the poor now face immediate threats, including the proposed roll-backs of hard-won civil liberties, health care, public education, environmental protection, social safety net provisions, and basic democratic rights. A new era of necessary defensive domestic battles - against these losses, and the looming threat of fascism - is upon us! This new era also poses grave challenges for supporters of peace and justice internationally. Trump’s aggressive and jingoistic isolationism is a threat to democratic and civil liberties around the world. His demagogic threats to wall off Mexico, arrest and deport millions of immigrants, and treat all Muslims as potential terrorists must be repudiated as assaults on fundamental human rights and democratic liberties. Trump’s praise of Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin is a clear indication that he will continue the phony “War on Terror”, even escalating the attacks on civilians. The Trump-Putin “bromance” also constitutes a dangerous approval of Putin’s very real campaign of terror, from the occupied Caucasus to Syria. Principled opposition to the War on Terror must be based on a rejection of all attacks against civilians.
We cannot oppose the War on Terror while being silent about Putin’s methods of genocide in Ichkeria, Russian occupied Chechnya, and Putin’s intervention to defend the 46-year Assad dictatorship in Syria against the popular uprising for freedom and democracy, which began in 2011 as part of the immensely hopeful Arab Spring. Bashar al-Assad’s sectarian-focused genocide, which targets Syria’s majority Sunni Muslim population, has murdered more than 500,000 people, and driven some 12-million (more than half the population) from their homes. Six years ago, teenagers spray-painted slogans calling for Assad to step down; the regime has responded with ferocious repression, burning Syria, burying civilians in rubble, and dismissing the victims as “terrorists”. Assad is the terrorist! Assad is responsible for the humanitarian crisis! Assad is an unacknowledged junior partner in the phony, US-led “War on Terror”. Trump promises to continue the “War on Terror” in Syria and around the world, in partnership with Putin and Assad!
It is hardly surprising that Trump seeks a closer relationship with Putin, whose air force has rescued the Assad regime from the brink of collapse by raining tens of thousands of bombs on civilians, hospitals, and children. The savage repression of all opposition to the Assad regime has driven more than 6-million Syrian refugees to flood the shores of Europe, feeding the xenophobic dystopian fears that have enabled significant electoral victories for Europe’s far-right, paving the way to Brexit, and rolling out the red carpet for Trump to move from his gilded penthouse in Manhattan to the White House. Now Trump and his far-right advisors hope to entrench their right-wing project across the globe - much of it under the bloody farce of the “War on Terror” - in alliance with Putin and puppet fascist regimes like Assad’s and Kadyrov’s. We must stand together on the firmest of principles: An injury to one is an injury to all! Solidarity with the struggle for democracy at home and abroad!!
We can only stop fascism at home by standing against fascism everywhere!
We can only fight for democracy at home by fighting for democracy everywhere!
There is a great deal we can do if we stand together to stop Trump’s agenda. But we can only do this from a position of principled solidarity with the democratic struggles of the Arab people - and in particular, the Syrian Democratic Revolution! Sadly, the antiwar coalitions we build together in struggle against the Bush-era wars have been coopted by leaderships who seek to substitute isolationism --Trump’s program!--for international solidarity with democratic struggles and principled opposition to attacks on civilians. Leaderships such as UNAC and ANSWER do not understand that peace,justice, and democracy are international principles, that these principles should never be surrendered!
The leaderships of the ANSWER Coalition, UNAC and other remnants of the broad Anti-War Movement built in opposition to Bush and Clinton’s criminal war against the Iraqi people, propose to ANSWER US wars abroad and repression at home by supporting Russian imperialism and Assad’s repression! These organisations have stood resolutely in defence of the Assad dictatorship, and support the intervention in Syria by Russia, Iran and its proxy militias, including Hezbollah. To oppose US imperialism, ANSWER and the like support sectarian genocide and the disintegration of Syria! Ironically, by apologizing for the regime’s crimes against humanity, ANSWER and the like have resorted to the same arguments used by Israel to justify its terrorist attacks on civilians in Gaza or by previous administrations to dismiss civilian casualties as “collateral damage”. Worse still, by repeating Assad’s lies that all who oppose him are terrorists, ANSWER and company have adopted Orientalist and Islamophobic rhetoric. Even as they exclude Syrians from speaking about their revolutionary experience and Assad’s repression, ANSWER and their followers propose themselves to lead the fight against racism, sexism, Islamophobia and xenophobia! Hypocrisy! It is high time to Listen to Syrians!
To stop Trump and his ilk leading us into the abyss of fascism, we must cut off the tree at its root! The root from which this right-wing shift in the world has grown includes the isolation of the Syrian democratic revolution - an unacceptable injustice vigorously promoted by the very forces who today pretend to lead our resistance! Leaving the Syrian revolution behind cannot be the way forward!!
How can we fight racism in the US while asserting Arabs must choose between dictators or jihadists? Who is ANSWER to choose for them! Orientalist and Islamophobic garbage! Chauvinism! The same kind of vicious logic was once used in an attempt to discipline African Americans and postpone their struggle for civil liberties until after defeating fascism in WWII.
How can we fight sexism in the US, while allowing Assad and Putin to barrel bomb hundreds of thousands of women and children, drive millions of others out of their homes, and torture thousands of women - with techniques including rape - for supporting the revolution?
How can we fight Islamophobia - and particularly Trump’s specific anti-Syrian Islamophobia - in the US, while accepting a discourse that erases millions of Syrian revolutionaries who have fought and risked everything for freedom and democracy, and insists instead that “they are all terrorists”?How can we fight xenophobia and defend the rights of immigrants in the US, while ignoring and even supporting the fascist Assad dictatorship and its allies, who have created a massive humanitarian crisis, driving millions from their homes under the force of barrel bombs and chemical weapons. The regime’s paramilitary gangs fight under the slogan “Assad or we burn the country.” How can this be tolerated?
How can we protect and build democracy in the US, while apologizing for war crimes and crimes against humanity of genocidal proportions committed by the regimes of Assad and Putin?
The real “ANSWER” is that we cannot!
Our failure as the broad progressive forces of the US to defend our Syrian sisters and brothers these past six years has contributed greatly to the crisis we face here today. As we respond in disbelief and even horror to the prospect of what lies before us, let us remember that we have barely begun to feel anything remotely close to the repression Syrians have faced for the last 40+ years! The fight to defend civil and democratic rights in the US must begin and walk forward side by side in solidarity with the Syrian democratic revolution!
The Syrian revolutionaries have shown international solidarity in their own struggle. Even as they struggle against the Assad regime, Syrians have built solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. As their own struggle has grown into the current revolutionary struggle for democracy, they have publicly expressed solidarity with other democratic struggles. The banners and signs raised in Kafranbel and other liberated areas have specifically expressed support for Black Lives Matter, the #NoDAPL struggle against the invasion of and environmental threats to Native American lands, and for the rights of refugees and immigrants, Syrians stand together with all refugees and immigrants, in the US and beyond, seeking safe harbor and a place to rebuild their lives.
WE CALL ON ALL PROTESTERS DEMANDING PEACE AND JUSTICE IN THE US TO STAND TOGETHER WITH SYRIANS DEMANDING THE SAME IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY!
WE CALL ON ALL WHO STAND AGAINST FASCISM IN THE US TO STAND WITH THE SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION AGAINST THE FASCISM OF THE ASSAD REGIME AND ITS FOREIGN BACKERS FROM RUSSIA, IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH!
WE CALL ON ALL WHO FIGHT FOR AN END TO WAR AND MILITARISM TO STAND AGAINST ALL WAR AND MILITARISM - EVEN WHEN THE MAIN PERPETRATORS ARE NOT “OUR OWN”!
WE CALL ON ALL PEACE AND JUSTICE ACTIVISTS TO DEMAND AN END TO THE PHONY US-LED “WAR ON TERROR” - AND TO EXPOSE THE PHONY “RESISTANCE” THAT SEEKS TO REHABILITATE THIS WAR!
WE DEMAND: STOP THE BOMBING! END THE SIEGES! DROP FOOD NOT BOMBS! ASSAD AND HIS REGIME OUT NOW! IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS & ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE DISAPPEARED! BRING THE TORTURERS AND WAR CRIMINALS TO JUSTICE! REFUGEES & IMMIGRANTS WELCOME! STOP RACISM! STOP SEXISM! NO FASCISM ANYWHERE! DEMOCRACY FOR ALL!
ISSUED ON 20 JANUARY, 2017 BY: SYRIA SOLIDARITY INTERNATIONAL - A COALITION OF SYRIA SOLIDARITY ACTIVISTS AND ORGANISATIONS WORKING TO BUILD A UNITED INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT WITH THE SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION.