Is there reconciliation left in Syria today?
Statement from Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, in NYC on Monday, August 6, on the occasion of his visit to the United Nations.
The answer is, quite clearly yes – however all of us Syrians must work in our hearts to keep reconciliation as the aim of our action, knowing there is no possible reconciliation without the pursuit of a pluralist democracy, and respect for human rights. These are the platforms on which future harmony will exist, through recognizing each other’s values.
Some of the Syrian people fighting for revolution have stayed consistently non-violent in their resistance over the past 17 months and have paid a high price for their faithfulness. They must keep their non-violent commitment in order to facilitate reconciliation in the country during the process of collapse and after the fall of the Bashar al-Assad regime.
Reconciliation is also part of the commitment of the Free Syrian Army, who have clearly and officially advocated for restraint against actions that undermine human rights, even for actions that may target enemies who have acted against the human dignity of the Syrian people during the past 40 years, especially over the past terrible months and will face fair trials for their crimes. The free Syrian soldiers who commit to this pledge and are respecting human dignity in all conditions are the heroes fighting for the honor of an entire people, an entire country and of all humanity.
There is no contradiction between the actions of the Free Syrian Army, those of the Syrian revolutionary parties who are against the use of weapons and the positions of pacifist activists. All of them will become actors within the coming pluralist democracy, which will need the participation of all faithful and sincere citizens.
It is evident that this deep attitude of reconciliation is difficult and painful, especially for those who are directly victims of violence. Justice however will need to be re-established through internationally guaranteed fair trial and not through personal revenge. Everybody is aware that some mistakes are happening and crimes should be punished regardless of who perpetuated them. Of course, in the coming free Syria we will also need to rehabilitate those who have fallen into the practice of using indiscriminate violence to achieve their goals.
Regarding the role of minorities in a future Syria – the country is a nation of minorities, and all people regardless of faith, ethnicity or ideology are crucial to building a new Syria. We must also leave behind any collective guilt or place responsibility for the crimes of this regime on any one group, as the criminals and victims over the past 40 years cuts across all ethnic and religious groupings.
Women and men of a free Syria, both inside and outside the country, will need to promote “Syrian to Syrian” dialogue for reconciliation. The “one Syria” we are all fighting for will be a homeland for all of us regardless of our religious, ethnic or ideological belonging. Unity in harmony is our goal which will shape a project of justice and peace for the Arab nation and the Middle East region altogether.
As we stand in New York City, we ask the UN to work side by side with the Syrian people in the fight for freedom and harmony. UN soldiers from non-aligned nations should assume direct responsibility to protect the endangered civilians in those parts of the country where massacres are occurring and where inter-communal conflict is growing. UN forces are needed today on the ground, together with international unarmed peace promoters, to separate those Syrians being pushed by regional enemies to kill one another.
This approach will empower the Syrian people and allow them to rebuild the unity of Syria throughout negotiations and international warranties for all the components of this great civilization – a nation that must be preserved for the good of the world.
May Allah have mercy on all of us, so we can show mercy to one another!