Syria’s long walk to freedom

Kristyan Benedict writes: Freedom from fear doesn’t come easy. That’s especially the case in Syria. For over four years Syrians who’ve wanted to build a new country based on equality, dignity and human rights have been blockaded, disappeared, tortured, exiled, bombed and betrayed.

On top of wide-scale human rights abuses by Assad’s forces, by ISIS and by numerous armed groups, these Syrians have largely been ignored by the mainstream media and in many cases, have been ridiculed as being wildly out of touch with the ‘realities’ on the ground.

It’s little surprise that many of those not engaged with Syria, think what’s going on is essentially Assad’s ‘secular’ forces pitted against the genocidal religious-extremist thugs of ISIS. In reality, these two masters of torture actually feed off each other and perpetuate the Syrian war.

Thankfully, war doesn’t last forever, and it won’t last forever in Syria either. And what comes next? is one of those questions which is asked by those who genuinely want to see a human rights based transition in Syria.

Asking ‘what comes next?’ is key to creating a vision and a plan to steer Syrians out of this darkness and towards a reality where they are genuinely free from fear.

With that focus on long-term transition and protecting the rights of all Syrians in mind, it was Amnesty International UK’s pleasure to recently host Rafif Jouejati and her organisation, FREE-Syria (the Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria), to talk about a potentially ground-breaking initiative which could help shape a future Syria — a Syria which has a government that doesn’t terrorise its own people.

The Freedom Charter, modeled on the South African Freedom Charter, is a much-needed reminder that there are still many Syrians who believe in freedom, justice, dignity and democracy. It reminds us that there are still many Syrians who reject authoritarianism, whether it is of the Ba’ath party variety, the ISIS type or that promulgated by some armed opposition groups. [Continue reading…]

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