Letter from Idlib: to Reps. Omar and Tlaib
Letter from Idlib: to Reps. Omar and Tlaib
Dear Representative Ilhan Omar,
Dear Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Rashida Tlaib, and Representative Alejandra Ocasio-Cortez,
Esteemed members of the United States Congress in consideration of The Pathway to Peace,
Please accept our warmest greetings from Idlib, Syria.
We begin our open letter to you by expressing our shared commitment with the principles that form the basis of The Pathway to Peace, the commitment to a foreign policy centered on human rights and international cooperation.
We believe you are well informed of our circumstances, but perhaps not everyone who reads this letter will know that over the last five months the Assad regime, with support from Russian fighter bombers and Iranian militias, has driven more than 900,000 of our people from our homes, driven us to seek refuge at a border that is closed, where according to the UNHCR some 4 million displaced persons are crowded into camps, and many others into the open country, where our children and elderly go hungry and freeze. For most of us, this is not the first displacement. For nine years now we have faced relentless and ruthless repression for our defiance of the dictatorship, which now rules and can only ever rule through bombing, through state terror. Our people have no means to defend themselves against the barrell bombs and missiles that rain down upon us. As the border with Turkey is closed, we cannot even escape the terror through exile as refugees. We are trapped, and with every day we bury neighbors, friends, family, and children.
But our hearts are not hardened by this genocidal assault on our people. On the contrary, the cruelty of our enemy only emboldens our love for humanity. We understand that the legislation of the Pathway to Peace is a commitment to change the policies that have fueled other humanitarian crises, in other corners of the world. We know we do not suffer alone the cruelty of war and repression. We extend our heartfelt solidarity to our brothers and sisters from Central America, to their families and children, seeking refuge, only to find a closed border. We do not claim to know their peoples' histories, but we identify with their pain and suffering, with their desire to live free from fear, with their humanity. We are also shocked and angered by President Trump's mockery of peace when he gives to Israel what is not his to give. We condemn most energetically the support for the Israeli military, which everyday maims and kills unarmed Palestinian youth. Our mothers know the salt of the tears their mothers cry. We are appalled that the great United States supports the destructive war that takes such a terrible toll upon the people of Yemen. Like them, we have felt the hunger and pain of sieges and bombing. We believe the US must stop its support for the Egyptian military, support without which Sisi's dictatorship could not hold tens of thousands of political prisoners. We share their pain; hundreds of thousands of our own have been abandoned by the world, to the darkness of Assad's dungeons. For all these reasons, because we know injustice, we have lived it, fought and continue to fight it, we support your efforts to make peace and human rights the basis for your country's foreign policy.
Even as war is waged against our people, we do not wish war for any people, but we know that submission is not peace, and it will not bring peace. We are not diplomats or historians, but we believe we understand why Iraqi youth fight and die for both Iranian militias and US soldiers to leave their land. We know very well what it means to have one's country overrun by the armies of foreign powers. We do not bring war to Russia and Iran. We do not want their youth to fight and die in our country, to fight for a dynasty of tyrants. And we will not endure in silence while others negotiate our fates in the name of "peace".
We were overjoyed when you, Representatives Omar and Tlaib, honored our struggle for human rights and freedom with your public expressions of support. Thus we come to you with the confidence to ask, how does The Pathway to Peace address the tragic conflict that we live? How does this proposal address the genocide waged against us by the Assad regime, with support from Russia and Iran?
Our struggle for freedom has been met by genocidal repression, and to our injuries have been added slanders by some and a cold indifference from too many. The truth must be told: we are not terrorists; the regime and its allies are waging state terrorism against our people. We appeal for your leadership in confronting the lies and slander. We are reminded of the Ninth Commandment, that proscribes bearing false witness against our neighbors. We are reminded of The Quran, "O you who accept the Truth, be persistently standing firm in justice as witness for God..." (4:135). And we are reminded of the greatest of peace makers in your country, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice."
There can be no peace so long as our schools, our hospitals, our homes are daily bombed, and our family members are imprisoned, and our children go hungry.
In closing, and in consideration of a shared commitment to peace and justice, in consideration of our desperate struggle against genocide, we ask for your leadership; we ask that you demand the United Nations immediately investigate the systematic bombing of hospitals, schools and nurseries by the Assad regime and Russia, that UN Secretary Antonio Guterres visit Idlib, and that the culpability of the war criminals be made a cause for global condemnation; we ask that you demand the immediate release by the regime of our brother, Syrian political prisoner and torture survivor, Mazen Alhummada, and the members of his family, as well as all political prisoners still being held. We further invite you to consider leading your own investigation into the ongoing acts of genocide against our people.
Peace be upon you.
Signers of the Change.org petition are co-signers.