The Syrian Coalition’s Negotiations Support Department held a workshop to discuss the various types of governance in the future of Syria on the sidelines of the meetings held by the Coalition’s political committee in the Turkish city of Gaziantep.
The workshop brought together legal experts and experts in the area of systems of governance. The participants discussed the pros and cons of the different types of governance and ways to pave the way for ending the decades-long authoritarian rule that existed in Syria and how to prevent it from being repeated.
Head of the Department and member of the political committee Hawas Saadoun said that the Coalition is working to provide the Syrian Negotiations Commission with new material and papers to support the negotiating process. The move also aims to help pave the way for a new system of rule as part of the comprehensive political solution that was outlined in the international resolutions on Syria, most notably the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Saadoun pointed out that the Coalition continues to seek to meet the aspirations and ambitions of the Syrian people, namely to establish a pluralistic democratic system of governance reflecting the diverse Syrian society and ensuring the recognition of the rights and participation of all citizens and components of the Syrian society. He added that similar workshops would be held on a regular basis until they achieve the desired goal.
Saadoun pointed out that to bring about a genuine, comprehensive transition in the country in accordance with international resolutions requires laying the foundations for the establishment of a new system of government that prevents any state body or apparatus from monopolizing the decision-making process. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition said that computer engineer Laila Shweikani was killed under torture in the prisons of the Assad regime. It called on the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to hold those responsible to account.
Assad’s security services detained Shweikani, 28, who holds dual Syrian-American citizenship, in Damascus in 2016. Rights activists said that Shweikani’s family knew about her death after a death notice was sent to the Syrian civil registry as was the case with thousands of victims of torture in the prisons of the Assad regime.
The UN Commission of Inquiry earlier called on the Assad regime to explain the causes of the death of thousands of detainees in its prisons. It urged the regime to acknowledge the truth about how victims perished, reveal the whereabouts of their remains, and promptly, thoroughly, transparently, and independently investigating all custodial deaths.
The Commission Chair Paulo Pinheiro on Tuesday said that “the release this year of what may amount to thousands or tens of thousands of names of allegedly deceased detainees and/or missing persons is unprecedented.”
The Syrian Coalition called for condemning the Assad regime and activating the UN’s International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to hold accountable the perpetrators of war crimes in Syria.
In a move that Amnesty International described as "important for achieving justice," the French judiciary earlier issued arrest warrants for three Assad regime senior officials on charges of torture, enforced disappearances, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Coalition stressed that achieving justice and accountability for war crimes is key to reaching a political solution as was outlined in international resolutions on Syria, most notably the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa sent a letter to the Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, expressing the hope that the League will implement all the decisions it issued on Syria, including handing over Syria’s seat to the Syrian Coalition.
President Mustafa called for enabling the Coalition to attend all meetings held by the Arab League at all levels as he expressed his rejection of "recent calls by some parties to give Syria's seat back to the Assad regime."
“A genuine political solution in Syria can only be through the full implementation of the political transition plan in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and the UN Security Council resolutions, including most importantly resolutions 2118 and 2254,” President Mustafa said. He underscored the need for the establishment of a Transitional Governing Body to transition Syria from tyranny to the stage of democratic construction with the participation of all Syrians without exception.
President Mustafa recalled the decisions and positions made by the Arab League numbering about 40 decisions, expressing regret for the backtracking by some Arab countries on their positions and legal obligations.
The Arab League had issued a decision to suspend the membership of the Assad regime and cut all diplomatic relations with it as well as give Syria’s seat to the Syrian Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and the main interlocutors with the League.
The Arab League also condemned the massacres committed by the Assad regime against Syrian civilians, including the ones committed using chemical weapons. It also called for the protection of Syrian civilians and proving them with all forms of support to defend themselves. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa said that the Assad regime is trying to delude the international community into believing that it has begun introducing reforms through reshuffling the current cabinet. He pointed out that the main problem in Syria does not lie in preserving or dissolving the current cabinet, but in the policies of the murderous, authoritarian regime.
"The regime has given its head the right to appoint and change the prime minister, ministers and their deputies. Assad has also the authority to dissolve the People's Assembly and has total control on the judiciary, the police and the army," Mustafa said in special statements on Tuesday.
President Mustafa added: “Assad has taken this move for the sixth time since the start of the Syrian revolution in March 2011. He has not done anything that could lead to meeting the aspirations of the Syrian people for freedom and dignity. Facts on the ground indicate that the Assad regime will not change its brutal, bloody policies as it continues to take revenge on and detain innocent civilians, including returnees from Lebanon.”
"Assad’s latest cabinet reshuffle included appointing Muhammed Rahmoun, who has been involved in war crimes against Syrian civilians, as Minster of the Interior. As the regime is composed of a bunch of murderers, the changes it is making will not meet the standards laid out in international resolutions calling for a genuine, comprehensive change through the establishment of a Transitional Governing Body with full powers."
Moreover, President Mustafa stressed that any attempt to rehabilitate the Assad regime will be unacceptable and will be doomed to failure, expressing his surprise at the countries that "were deceived and want to convince others to rehabilitate the Assad regime and restore relations with it."
The With Justice rights group said that Rahmoun commanded the troops that stormed and carried out mass arrests in the Damascus suburbs of Harasta, Arbeen, Douma, Barzah and Qaboun. He also supervised the questioning and torture of detainees leading to the death of tens of thousands. The rights group pointed out that the Air Force Intelligence branch in Harasta, which is headed by Rahmoun, is dubbed "death branch.” by Syrians. (Source: Syrian Coalitions’ Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition said that the Assad regime and Russia are making blatant attempts to undermine the Idlib agreement and find justifications for the continued violations and attacks against civilians claiming the lives of dozens, including children.
In a press release issued on Monday, the Coalition said that Russia continues to adopt the lies and allegations of the Assad regime and promote them in various media outlets in an attempt to spread chaos and conceal the facts and to undermine the political process.
“There have been recently an increased buildup of Iranian militias in areas around Aleppo and Idlib in an attempt to fabricate pretexts and justifications for their continuing violations of the Idlib agreement,” the Coalition said.
“Russia, meanwhile, has sought to provide a cover for these moves, ignoring the Assad regime’s responsibility for the use of chemical weapons more than 140 times since the start of the conflict.”
The Assad regime and Russia’s latest allegations about a chemical attack ahead of the upcoming Astana meeting is blindingly clear. The Assad regime, Russia and Iran are seeking to disrupt the meeting thus emptying it of any meaning as well as dodge their obligations ahead of the resumption of the Geneva negotiations and political process.
“The Assad regime and Russia’s latest allegations about a chemical attack ahead of the upcoming Astana meeting is blindingly clear. The Assad regime, Russia and Iran are seeking to disrupt the meeting thus emptying it of any meaning as well as dodge their obligations ahead of the resumption of the Geneva negotiations and political process.”
The Coalition went on to say that the Assad regime, with the help of its Russian and Iranian allies, besieged the Syrian people as well as killed and detained hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more with the use of every means at its disposal, beginning with barrel bombs all the way up to chemical weapons.”
“The Assad regime and Iranian terrorist militias will not hesitate to target any location and commit massacres anywhere to serve their interests. They have pursued these polices over the past several years and are pursuing them now in Aleppo to displace and terrorize its population.”
“The world has a duty to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and stand up to the crimes taking place against them. We will closely follow these violations and crimes and deal with them with the utmost care and credibility. We therefore reiterate the need to reactivate the Joint Investigative Mechanism; refer all the crimes committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court; and bring those with blood on their hands to justice.” (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition condemned the heinous crime of assassinating media activist and Raed Al-Faris and his colleague photographer Hammoud Junaid, stressing that the crime shook the conscience of every free Syrian.
Al-Faris and Junaid were shot dead in their hometown of Kafranbil in rural Idlib by masked gunmen while they were on their way to cover the Friday demonstrations in the town.
In a press release issued on Friday, the Coalition said: “This reprehensible crime took place in a town that has been at the heart of the Syrian revolution and one that represents a lot in the conscience of the Syrian people as an icon of the Syrian revolution.”
“The town has been well known for its distinguished civil, peaceful activities, most notably the placards and cartoons that have expressed the aspirations of the Syrian people over the past eight years,” the Coalition added.
“The alliance of tyranny and terrorism, up to which the slain activists firmly stood, is the prime suspect for this crime. Al-Faris was previously kidnapped and was the target of an attempted assassination in response to his opposition to the transnational terrorist groups which have been seeking to derail the Syrian revolution away from its goals of dignity and freedom.”
The Coalition went on to say that “just like the Assad regime, those groups have showed downright hostility to the Syrian people, their rights, and the peaceful civil movement since it began in 2011.”
The Coalition stressed it would make every possible effort in cooperation with the Syrian Interim Government and its executive branches to go after the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice.
“This outrageous act will have an everlasting impact on the conscience of every free Syrian who will be saddened by this tremendous loss. While it will be difficult to fill the void resulting from the loss of those two fallen heroes, we are entirely confident of the Syrian people and their ability to carry on the path of freedom; carry the torch of the revolution; and remain true to the principles and values of the revolution.”
US and British officials have also mourned the loss of the anti-Assad activists. The US State Department said in a statement that Raed and Hammoud never hesitated to tell the truth and stayed true to the original values of the revolution." The British envoy to Syria, Martin Longden, called their killing a "loss to Syria and its future," adding that Raed was "the conscience of the revolution."
The slain activists were among the most prominent activists of the revolutionary, civil movement in Idlib province. Raed, who survived previous assassination attempts, founded Radio Fresh and the Union of Revolution Offices in his hometown of Kafranbel. His colleague Junaid, a media activist and one of Radio Fresh staff, was one of the first journalists who worked to document the violations of the Assad regime. (Source: Syrian Coalitions’ Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition, Abdurrahman Mustafa, stressed that the Assad regime is seeking to bring about a demographic change in the country after it has recently begun to confiscate property of displaced Syrians, thus further discouraging displaced Syrians from returning.
Mustafa on Thursday told the Turkish Anadolu Agency that "the Assad regime has begun to compile lists in preparation for the confiscation of the property of the displaced. He added that the Assad regime’ judiciary has been releasing lists of the names of those who were expropriated.
The Assad regime does not need a pretext to put his hand on the property of citizens as it looks at the country as his private property, Mustafa said, stressing that the regime intends to confiscate the money of millions who fled the country.
Mustafa added that “the Syrian Coalition has been raising this issue at all international levels," calling for "exerting pressure on the regime to force it to backtrack this procedure."
"We have received information that the regime is seeking to legitimize the confiscation of citizens' property through a special directorate that was established for this purpose."
Mustafa’s remarks came a few days after Human Rights Watch announced that Russia and the Assad regime were attracting funding for reconstruction. Under the guise of property rights law, the Assad regime would prevent IDPs from returning to their property.
The Syrian Coalition earlier warned that "the Assad regime has taken effective measures to legitimize the seizure of Syrians’ property through the creation of a special directorate for the implementation of Decree 66, the announcement of new lists of specializations for property owners in the district of Kafarsousa, Al-Mazza, Darya and Al-Qadam, and putting its hand on the property of opponents.
The Coalition said that the "the amendments the Assad regime has recently introduced to Decree 66 have fallen short of ensuring protection for the rights of the Syrians nor did they dispel the fears of the opposition. It noted that displaced Syrians would not be able to give warrant of attorney to one of their relatives to claim their rights on their behalf due to the lack of safe environment and independent judiciary in the current conditions. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Syrian Coalition on Wednesday held a teleconference with a number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to assess the situation of refugees and discuss ways to meet their educational and health needs.
The teleconference, which was organized by the Syrian Coalition’s Department of Refugees’ Affairs, brought together Coalition members and refugees living in Tripoli, Bekaa and refugee camps in Arsal.
Head of the Department, Amal Sheikho, said that the terrorist Hezbollah militia bears primary responsibility for the crimes taking place against the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, including through kidnappings, arrest and torture which have further exacerbated the suffering of the refugees.
Sheikho highly commended the positions and efforts being made by Lebanese Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Mouin Merehbi. She held the Lebanese authorities and its security agencies partially responsible. She called for safeguarding the rights of refugees in line with the relevant international laws as she stressed the need to allow international organizations to implement the programs they have already developed to serve the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
Sheikho added that members of the Syrian Coalition talked with a large segment of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and learned about the reality of their lives and the services being provided to them, in particular in the areas of education and health as well as food and medical assistance.
Furthermore, Sheikho pointed out that the Syrian refugees in Lebanon suffer dire humanitarian conditions, especially with the onset of winter. She noted that refugee camps in most areas in Lebanon do not meet international standards and need urgent maintenance.
Sheikho called for the launch of international investigations into the fate of the refugees returning from Lebanon to Syria, citing reports about the Assad forces’ execution of families that have recently returned to their homes in rural Homs.
Sheikho stressed that the current conditions are not appropriate for the return of refugees. She urged the United Nations to reinvigorate the political process to reach a political solution in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254 as key to the creation of a safe and neutral environment for the safe, voluntary return of refugees. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
President of the Syrian Coalition, Abdurrahman Mustafa, said that any further delay by the international community in forcing Assad to return to the negotiating table and agree to a political solution would have serious repercussions for which the world will pay a double price.
President Mustafa’s remarks came as the Assad regime is continuing to commit the most heinous crimes against civilians in Syria, including through arrest, torture, kidnapping and summary executions in addition to violation of all conventions and agreements. These crimes and violations have claimed the lives of hundreds of people in recent weeks.
"The world will pay a double price for any further delay in reaching a political solution," Mustafa said, calling on countries with leverage on the regime to exert pressure on it to agree to engage in a negotiating process meeting the aspirations of the Syrian people.
President Mustafa pointed out that reaching a political solution in accordance with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254 "will spare the world the repercussions of the survival of the Assad regime."
President Mustafa earlier called on the United Nations to launch a serious investigation into the Assad regime’s violations against detainees and to work seriously to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime.
President Mustafa also called for addressing the tragic situation in Syria and taking a bold decision to refer war crimes in Syria to the International Criminal Court. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Vice-president of the Syrian Coalition, Abdel Basset Hamou, said that facts have shown the extent of coordination between the terrorist militia of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Assad regime. He stressed that these facts refuted claims by this militia that it opposes the Assad regime or about its desire to establish a new rule based on justice and equality.
In special remarks on Friday, Hamou said that "the abuses against senior member of the Kurdish National Council Abdul Rahman Abo in the dungeons of the PYD militia who handed him over to one of the Assad regime’s security branches are yet further evidence of this coordination.”
Abo told Rudaw news agency that the PYD militia handed him over to the Assad regime’s State Security of in Aleppo which later handed him back to the PYD militia.
Upon his release from PYD prisons, Abo pointed out that he remained in solitary confinement in Afrin for two months before he was moved to a slightly larger room where he stayed for nearly four months.
On March 15, Abo was taken blindfolded from Afrin to al-Shahba area in Aleppo where he was handed over to the Assad regime’s State Security in Aleppo where he was detained for 40 days. “After investigations, we were transferred to Manbij and then handed over back to the PYD militia.”
Abo said that the charges against him included "sowing sedition, incitement, and seeking to weaken the nation," which are the same charges used by the Assad regime against its opponents.
The Coalition’s Vice president called on international organizations to put pressure on the PYD militia to disclose the fate of senior member of the Kurdish National Council Behzad Dorsen and the fate of all other detainees in the PYD prisons. He also called for identifying those who were involved in the assassination of Nasreddine Berhak and Meshal Tammou as facts indicated to the existence of coordination between the Assad regime and the PYD militias in these crimes.
Abdul Rahman Abo, a leading member of the Kurdish Democratic Party, a component of the umbrella party the Kurdish National Council, was detained by the PYD militia on July 12, 2017. The PYD militia did not officially disclose his whereabouts until the hour of his release despite the repeated calls by the Council and human rights organizations for the disclosure of his whereabouts. The PYD militia on Friday set on fire the place which was set up to receive Abo in the town of Qamishli. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)