by The Peace People – TRANSCEND Media Service. Press release 26th August 2013
Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire today appealed to the Rt. Hon. William Hague, British Foreign Minister, and M. Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister, to stop calling for military action against Syria which, she said, will only lead the Middle East into even more violence and bloodshed for its people.
“Arming rebels and authorizing military action by US/NATO forces will not solve the problem Syria is facing but indeed could lead to the death of thousands of Syrians and to the breaking-up of the country falling under the control of violent fundamentalist jihadist forces. It will mean the further fleeing of Syrians into surrounding countries which will themselves become destabilised. The entire Middle East will then become unstable and violence will spiral out of control.
“Contrary to some foreign governments’ current policies of arming the rebels and pushing for military intervention, the people of Syria are calling out for peace and reconciliation and a political solution to the crisis, which continues to be inflamed by outside forces with thousands of foreign fighters funded and supported by outside countries for their own political ends.
“Having visited Syria in May 2013 leading a 16-member delegation, I returned convinced that the civil community, with groups such as Mussalaha, which are working on the ground building peace and reconciliation, can solve their own problems if their plea for outsiders to remain out of the conflict is honoured by the international community.
“During our visit we met with all sections of the community, most of whom are sick of violence and death and want peace and reconciliation and a political solution. We met with the Syrian Prime Minister and seven other ministers and were assured that the government did not use sarin gas on its own people, and they invited the UN to send in inspectors to see what was happening.
“Currently there is an International Commission of Inquiry on Chemical Weapons in Damascus staying at Four Seasons Hotel, which is less than ten minutes from the areas where the chemical weapons were allegedly used. The western media–particularly vocal being the British and French Foreign Ministers–are accusing President Assad of using chemical weapons on his own people but have no proof of this accusation; rather, some factors point to rebels as the ones who used such weapons.
“The question must be asked, ‘What would it benefit Assad to use sarin gas in the vicinity of visiting international UN inspectors and in his own environment and neighbourhood where his soldiers and others would be affected personally?’ I do not believe the latest accusations against the Assad government using sarin gas; in order that the world can hear the truth, I would appeal to the International Commission of Inquiry to go into the areas in question immediately and report as quickly as possible. In the meantime I appeal to the Foreign Ministers of Britain and France to encourage, as the Syrian people wish, dialogue and negotiation as a way forward.
“We all remember the fear, panic and lies spun by the British and American governments and others that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and it were not true. Let us learn the lesson of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya where so many millions have been killed in invasions and war, and many continue to die in violence. Violence is not the answer. Let’s end this ‘war on terror’ and give nonviolence and peace a chance.”
Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.