Statement condemning siege of Yarmouk and all Assad brutality in Syria

Authors’ note: This is a response to the posting from Cornell SJP on the situation in Yarmouk camp in Syria. This is not meant as a comprehensive statement on the conflict in Syria. It is also not our intention to cast aspersions on or vilify Cornell SJP but to respond to the content of their statement. If you would like to add your name to this statement, either as an individual, or as an SJP chapter, please email jareea@gmail.com with the name as it should appear.

All of us have seen the horrifying pictures coming out of Yarmouk refugee camp. Each of us holds our sisters, our brothers, our nieces and nephews, our seedos a little tighter as we struggle to see what can be done for Palestinians who are literally starving to death. Many of those killed by the Assad regime in the past three years were Palestinians, some carrying cameras to document the regime’s brutality, some delivering aid to besieged Syrians, some carrying a weapon while fighting for freedom and dignity, and some sitting quietly in their homes when a TNT barrel fell through their roof. Yarmouk was home to over 100,000 Palestinians. Suffice it to say that there are those in Yarmouk who support the armed resistance, those who don’t, and those who simply want to live, all of them wish to return to their homes in Palestine. 

Yet we also know that ultimately Palestinian liberation is incomplete without the liberation of all oppressed people, whether their oppression comes from occupation and settler-colonialism or a repressive regime from within.

We therefore stand in solidarity not only with the Palestinians of Yarmouk, but also with the people of Syria, fighting for freedom and a better future for their children. We totally reject holding the armed resistance responsible for the crimes the Assad regime has committed against the people of Yarmouk and the people of Syria. The government of Syria has the responsibility to protect innocent civilians and allow vital aid to reach those in need. We condemn the Assad regime’s siege on Yarmouk in the strongest terms. To abrogate any of the regime’s responsibility for their own actions is outrageous.

We will not attempt to speak for the people of Yarmouk or Syria, or continue the cynical use of these people as pawns, either in war or in debate. As solidarity activists, and more importantly, as human beings, we stand with the downtrodden, the abject, and the oppressed.

Until freedom,

Individual Students and Alumni
Neda Kit, Rutgers SJP
Mohannad Rachid, Loyola University of Chicago SJP
Tarek M. Khalil, University of Illinois at Chicago SJP Alum
Bekah Wolf, University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Dina Sayed-Ahmad, Rutgers SJP
Ahmad Aburas, Rutgers SJP
Noran Elzarka, Drew SJP
Ephraim Hussain, Montclaire State University
Shiyam Galyon, University of Texas at Austin PSC Alum
Baha Abusharara, University of Illinois at Chicago SJP

SJP Chapters
Rutgers-Newark SJP
Loyola University of Chicago SJP
Drew University SJP
University of Illinois at Chicago SJP

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There are 2 comments

  1. The Red Viper

    A few thoughts, if I may:

    “We totally reject holding the armed resistance responsible for the crimes the Assad regime has committed against the people of Yarmouk and the people of Syria”

    But this goes against basic facts we know about the nature of the Syrian oppositional forces which have committed massive crimes against the people of Syria. Why is there no outrage about this?

    Why must Palestinians take a position on the conflict in Syria considering BOTH sides – not just the Assad regime – is guilty of war crimes? And how can one be so foolish to equate “the Syrian people” and “the armed resistance” as if they are one and the same?

    “As solidarity activists, and more importantly, as human beings, we stand with the downtrodden, the abject, and the oppressed.”

    Does this include those in the Alawite community and other Syrian cities that have been massacred by oppositional forces? Why is that not included in your statement?

    And for that matter, why is a Palestinian group (and individuals) based in the US, mind you, taking an official position on a civil war in another country in the first place — a civil war which, by any legitimate analysis, has been shown to have much foreign involvement on BOTH sides, whether from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia, or Iran?

    This statement lacks any nuance regarding the Syrian conflict, and seems to be emotional and reactionary, with no reference to facts on the ground, except the same mantra “Assad is evil, Assad is evil, Assad is evil.” I think many of us can agree how repressive and genocidal the Assad regime has been, but to remove any responsibility from the armed opposition which has committed grave crimes is irresponsible.

    Thank you.

    1. Sameer Saboungi

      First, there is no debate that the majority and the bulk of war crimes committed in Syria is disproportionately committed by the Assad regime. Secondly, where is your evidence of mass genocide and massacre of Alawites by “opposition fighters?” I will not argue the fact that some elements of the armed resistance have committed crimes, however one must distinguish between the Al-Qaeda affiliated extremist fighting groups inside Syria and the mainstream rebels (FSA, etc). The Al-Qaeda affiliated fighters are not representative of the Syrian people nor the Syrian revolution, and there is evidence to point that they may actually be working with the Assad regime. Furthermore, the Syrian people who stood up valiantly against this brutal regime, peacefully demonstrating and organizing, bearing the brunt of shells, missiles, torture and aerial bombardment, do not deserve to be discredited for the actions of a few battalions.

      And as for your point about the oppressed and downtrodden Alawites massacred in villages and cities across Syria by opposition fighters….again, I ask for your evidence on this, and secondly, I’d like to point out that Alawites were (and continue to be) the privileged class under the Assad regime. They have not faced the same brutality and military campaigns of the Assad regime as their other fellow Syrians.

      And this Palestinian group is taking a position on this issue (FINALLY) out of principle. There is clearly a good and a bad side, each with their savory and unsavory elements, in this conflict. One must not think that the Palestinian cause is the most important struggle of the people in this world, and for the Palestinian cause to succeed, one must build allyship and support other peoples’ struggles out of principle. Secondly, I would argue that the Assad regime is also receiving far more foreign aid and involvement that the revolutionary side.

      And finally, “Assad is evil, Assad is evil, Assad is evil.” It is true. We are not removing responsibility from the armed opposition groups for the crimes they’ve committed, but we cannot view Assad and these armed opposition groups as equals. They are not balanced. For one, the Assad regime is a government tasked with protecting its people. We are simply demanding the departure of the Assad regime, as every Syrian knows that a better Syria, a democratic Syria for Syrians, will not be achieved until Assad gives up his grip on power.

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