Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Declaration of the Proceedings of the General Assembly of the Syrian Democratic Forum

In response to the call of freedom, for which our Syrian people pay the highest price; due to the sensitivity of the historical moment and the magnitude of the risks posed by the insistence of the regime on murdering, torturing and ignoring the people's right to gain their freedom and self-determination; because of the serious prospects opened up by the uncontrolled use of arms and the seriousness of the civil and sectarian polarization; and considering the complexities of the situation at internal and international levels; the General Assembly of the Syrian Democratic Forum (SDF) was held in Cairo from the 13th to the 16th of April, 2012; the conferees have discussed the mechanisms for supporting the revolution to topple the regime and establish a democratic civil state; a state that is based on equal citizenship and freedoms.

 In the conference sessions, more than 200 activists from different intellectual and political tendencies, social strata, and backgrounds, have discussed their joint and collective national concern that consists of the achievement of the revolution goals, the protection of the civil peace, and the avoidance of the disintegration of the state and society. Besides, out of appreciation for the efforts of the different Syrian opposition forces, the identity of the Forum has been confirmed as an arena for building vision and ideas regarding all issues that concern the revolution and the society, and as a bridge for building consensus among the various opposition forces. Therefore, the SDF has reiterated its willingness to undertake the effort required to coordinate among the different opposition forces’ strategies to overthrow the regime and build the aspired state; a state that is based on equal citizenship, sovereignty of law and freedoms.

Indeed, the SDF perceives that one of its tasks is to launch a plan to unite the Syrian opposition of all spectra, accompanied by mechanisms and timetable for its implementation, through the formation of internal and external committees for cooperation and consultation. These plan and mechanisms are to be put into effect as soon as possible; with the reaffirmation that what is meant by unity of the opposition is to have a common vision, program, and political will; and taking into account that the basis for the indispensable unity of the opposition is the unity of purpose. By this purpose, we mean bringing the regime down; building a democratic civil state based on equal citizenship; clearly specifying the path leading to the future of Syria after the fall of the regime; and providing a clear vision for the new Syria. In this regard, it is the responsibility of the committee elected by the General Assembly to put this into practice.

Also, the participants have diagnosed the situation on the ground and the nature of internal and external factors affecting the mobilization, particularly at the diplomatic and media levels. The conferees have felt the duty to support the revolution; the Syrian people’s right for self-defense; the necessity to guarantee the right for peaceful demonstrations, and protect and encourage them; and the promotion of the means of civil resistance to overthrow the regime. Further the conferees have insisted on the need to control the armament under one political, military and media authority that controls them; determine their appropriate use and assume the responsibility of the consequences of this use; and will be able to withdraw them after the fall of the regime or once their use become dangerous on the Syrian society and state. Since, in reality, there are armed groups that differ from one area of Syria to another in their composition, behavior, practices on the ground, and references; and because not all of them are not under the name of the Free Syrian Army (FSA); it is important to do not attribute all the wrong practices to the officers and soldiers who, by their will to preserve the blood of their people, defected from the units designated by the regime to conduct acts of torture and killing; those soldiers and officers merit all commend and help. Further, it is important to emphasize on the role of those officers and soldiers in the protection of peaceful demonstrations and the defense of innocent civilians, on the basis of the right of self-defense guaranteed in all international laws and conventions.  Hence, the Forum considers the FSA as a matter of fact phenomenon; and its attitude toward it arises from the Forum view of the peacefulness of the revolution as a strategic option. Consequently, the SDF supports the FSA as far as the latter supports the peaceful revolution, falls within its framework and does not contradict it. Nevertheless, the Forum does not consider the regular army personnel who did not get involved in the Syrian bloodshed as the regime’s army, but the Syrian state’s army that has been stolen by the regime; further, it is the revolution task to restore this army as a whole and restore its patriotic role. Thus, the struggle is not between two armies, but between the tyranny and the revolution, which we call on all the Syrian people, civilians and military personnel, to join.

Plus, the conferees have felt the need to strengthen the national cohesion among all components of Syrian society and stressed on the unity of Syrian land and people; further, what ensures this unity is a state of equal citizenship, in which all citizens are equal in all rights and duties regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds or any other similar characteristic. This equal citizenship requires the removal of all the consequences of all the racist and discriminatory policies exerted during the past era and the compensation of those affected by them. In this context, the participants have discussed the situation of the Kurdish problem in Syria, and stressed that a democratic and pluralistic national system is the human rights and political guarantee for equality among all citizens. Further, they have emphasized that the constitution of Syria to come should be derived from its pluralistic historical and social reality and based on the fact that Syria is a multinational state, thus recognizing that the full equality of all nations in the rights and duties; hence, the SDF finds that the solution of the national question of the Kurdish people must be in accordance with the international covenants and conventions of human and group rights.

Based on the understanding that the freedom and independence of Syria is achieved through the freedom and well-being of its citizens, the participants have confirmed that the liberation of the occupied Syrian territory is a national duty; no one, under any circumstances, is entitled to trade or waive it.
With regard to the reality of the mobilization on the ground, the conferees have discussed the mechanisms to support and enhance its steadfastness, taking into consideration the factors that hamper and impede it. Thus, it has been emphasized to reject the sectarian practices that are being carried out in some Syrian areas; of which the regime have been working actively to expand the framework since the beginning of the revolution, in order to discredit it and abort its popular support, consequently threatening the fate of the revolution, the society and the country. The participants have felt that the variations in the foundations of the revolutionary mobilization do not negate the existence of a national condition encompassing all Syrians; conversely, this regional specificity is providing support to the revolution. In this context, the conferees see the need to strengthen the means of civil resistance, and to propagate and not to limit them to the case of demonstrations. This requires the diffusion of the civil resistance concepts and means, and the provision of its tools, to re-establish trust in it as a guaranteed option to the victory of the revolution and the achievement of its objective after the fall of the regime.

Emphasizing that the revolution objectives are not systematically achieved with the fall of the regime; and building a new system requires a politically, socially, economically, culturally and developmentally inclusive actions; the participants have confirmed the importance of developing a program for the transition that takes into account the impairments caused by the long-lasting authoritarian regime and the new ones generated in the course of the revolution. In addition, the conferees believe that the exit from the security situation, which is paralyzing the country, and the withdrawal of the armed manifestations are the first step to restore normal life. Furthermore, there are other steps and measures that should be undertaken in this context as a ground for national reconciliation, of which the most important are compensating the victims; guaranteeing the necessary conditions for the return of refugees and displaced persons to normal living conditions; and conducting fair trials. Besides, that should be accompanied by political measures that require the formation of a transitional government and the development of a constitutional list that determines the powers and tasks set for the transitional phase, and other issues agreed upon by the political forces.

In order to make the transition initiation possible, it has been stressed on the importance of activating all available means for expanding the demonstrations and increasing the demonstrators’ number, thus enabling them to exercise more pressure on the regime. This pressure should be applied in harmony with diplomatic and political manoeuvres that benefit, as much as possible, from the conflicting international interests and attitudes vis-à-vis the Syrian revolution; in addition, this should be done in cooperation with NGOs and international civil society forces, on the basis of putting the external relationships in the benefits of the internal interest, not vice versa, in order to tighten the noose on the regime and force its main figures to step down. In this context, it is important for the Syrian opposition to interact positively with the Arab League and the Kofi Annan initiatives; and to manage the external relationships with putting in mind the Syrian people’s interests and their aspirations for freedom, decent living and sovereignty over their territory. In the event that the regime closes the openings in front of the Syrian revolution, pushing the country to the brink of civil war; the opposition and revolution forces should do everything they can to prevent this impasse; and manage the relationship with the outside world with the intention to maintain civil peace and reduce losses that may result from the foreign intervention; toward which, the policies of the regime are pushing.

Also, the participants have underlined the importance of media and cultural activities interacting with revolutionary mobilization on the ground; moreover, they emphasized the importance of the restoration of the civilized and human image of Syrians, distorted intentionally or unintentionally by some media outlets by forging in the public awareness a certain impression about the revolution and the Syrians. Furthermore, it is imperative to do not overlook the primary role of the regime in this regard, which has had a negative impact on the position of an important portion of Syrians as regard to the revolution.

The SDF, also, has stressed on contribution of youth and women to civil revolutionary mobilization and their leading role in all fields of the Syrian Revolution, including political, cultural and media. Moreover, the Forum sees Syria to come as a nation characterized by equal partnership between men and women in rights and duties, and a non-discriminatory place, which is based upon the convention of human rights.
As a result of the fruitful interaction within the framework of the proceedings of the SDF General Assembly and the following works, the Forum aspires to develop an action plan, based on a set of papers, documents, projects and programs, concerning the most important political and media issues, and also regarding the status of the revolutionary mobilization and the means to support it. Plus, this plan would include proposals for its application on the ground, to help achieve the Syrian people’s goals of freedom and democracy, and to support the building of the aspired Syrian state, which would be dominated by the values of freedom, justice, equality and respect for human rights.

In these circumstances, which the country is enduring, the SDF supports every initiative that calls and works for the return of exiled Syrians and refugees to participate in the revolution of their people inside the country. Furthermore, the Forum delegates its elected committee to contribute to the development of a mechanism to achieve this objective, with the guarantees from Arab and international communities, and to seek to hold the next conference of the Forum in Damascus.
Long live Syria, a homeland for all Syrians
Victory to the revolution of freedom and dignity
Glory and eternity to the martyrs of freedom
Freedom for all detainees

Cairo, April 17th, 2012

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