August 9, 2016 — A Peace and Fact-Finding Delegation, organized by the U.S. Peace Council (USPC) just returned from a week-long visit to Syria. The delegation met with representatives of numerous NGOs, heads of industry, religious leaders and civil society, high-level leaders of the Syrian government, and it held an extended private meeting with President Bashar al Assad.
The delegation’s findings could not be more timely as the world watched the Obama administration escalating violence and bombing in Libya and threatening to escalate its overt military role in Syria. These violent actions take place while the Syrian government and its allies are closing in on the various foreign-funded terrorist groups that have plagued the people of Syria for over 5 years.
Consisting of seven activists representing various peace organizations the Peace Delegation was led jointly by Henry Lowendorf from the executive committee of the USPC and Gerry Condon, Vice President of Veterans for Peace.
“Almost everything we read about Syria in the media is wrong,” said Gerry Condon. “The reality is that the U.S. government is supporting armed extremist groups who are terrorizing the Syrian people and trying to destroy Syria’s secular state.”
“In order to hide that ugly reality and push violent regime change,” continued Condon, “the U.S. is conducting a psychological warfare campaign to demonize Syria’s president, Bashar al Assad. This is a classic tactic that veterans have seen over and over. It is shocking, however, to realize how willingly the media repeat this propaganda, and how many people believe it to be true.”
Donna Nassor pointed out,
“Contrary to media reports, in eastern Aleppo, as in Medaya earlier, we learned that it is the terrorists who prevent supplies from getting in and civilians from leaving even while the Syrian government creates channels for residents to leave that besieged part of Aleppo.”
“Furthermore, people in the US are unaware of the strangulating sanctions their government is imposing on the Syrian people,” stated delegate Madelyn Hoffman.
“Similar to US sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s that killed over half a million children, this illegal economic war is causing loss of life and unnecessary suffering of the Syrian people. Universally, everyone the delegation talked with asked that these sanctions be lifted.”
The Peace delegation spent nearly two hours in dialogue with President Assad, a soft spoken man with a wry sense of humor who thoughtfully answered questions about the current engagement in Aleppo, his perceptions of the bilateral negotiations between the US and Russia, and the revolutionary policy of ending the war through grass roots reconciliation initiatives. Judith Bello reflected, “Syria’s reconciliation plan is a powerful example of a restorative response to divisive forces spreading violence and chaos in a generally tolerant and peaceful country.”
“All members of the Delegation returned convinced that Syria’s sovereignty must be respected, that it up to Syrians to overcome whatever problems exist in their country without interference from the US,” said Henry Lowendorf, co-leader of the delegation. “There exists in Syria a strong nonviolent political opposition who are working both inside and outside the government.”
As delegate Vanessa Beeley stated,
“Syria is being invaded by US-allied proxy forces that are torturing, abusing, kidnapping and massacring the Syrian people. We urge that the world start listening to the Syrian people who demand their right to determine their own future and decide who should govern them.”
Joe Jamison concluded,
“We call on the US, its allies in Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Israel to stop supporting the mercenaries no matter what they name themselves, end the war on Syria, end the sanctions and restore normal relations with the Syrian people and their government – immediately. If the US and its allies continue promoting the terrorists, as many inside Syria told us, the fire they lit in Syria in 2011 will continue to engulf more of the world.”
Members of the Peace Delegation:
— Henry Lowendorf (Co-Leader of the Delegation), Member of the Executive Board, US Peace Council
— Gerry Condon (Co-Leader of the Delegation), National Vice President, Veterans For Peace
— Joe Jamison, Member of the Executive Board, US Peace Council
— Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director (not representing the organization), New Jersey Peace Action
— Judith Bello, Member of Administrative Committee, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
— Vanessa Beeley, Independent Journalist, Member of Steering Committee, Syria Solidarity Movement
— Donna Nassor, Attorney, College Professor, Palestinian Rights Activist