The Syrian Opposition Coalition’s (SOC) Youth Office hosted Brigadier-General Fateh Hassoun for a panel discussion held under the title ‘Demographic Change and Guarantees for Refugees & IDPs Return.’ Participants included youth groupings, civil society organizations, research centers, and members of the SOC’s political committee.
Hassoun gave an overview on the discipline of demography and some of the common legal terms associated with it. He also talked about the Assad regime’s mass displacement of the Syrian people and its repopulation of various regions of Syria with Iranian militias. He stressed that the Assad regime is seeking to change the demographic landscape on the basis of political affiliation and absolute loyalty as part its plans for creating the so-called “useful Syria” in the area connecting Damascus with the Syrian coast.
Hassoun pointed out that the mass forced displacement operations in Syria were carried out by three main parties: First is the Assad regime, while the second is the Iranian militias that exploited the deteriorating living conditions in the Damascus suburbs to buy properties from the local population, in addition to Hezbollah militia’s seizure of border areas with Lebanon, and the Four Towns Agreement which led to the displacement of the residents of Madaya and Zabadani. The third party is the PYD terrorist militia, which mainly targeted the Arab component in eastern Syria.
Moreover, Hassoun highlighted the tools that the Assad regime is using to force Syrian civilians out of their homes and bring about demographic change, most notably mass killing, bombing, scorched-earth policy, mass arrests and forced disappearance. They also included the issuance of laws and decrees to reinforce this policy, such as Law No. 10, the naturalization of foreign militias, and the conclusion of agreements leading to the mass displacement of tens of thousands of people from their homes.
Participants discussed the right to voluntary, safe and dignified return, stressing the need to step up legal and intellectual efforts to confront the Iranian threat by raising awareness of its dangers for the Arab world. They also stressed the need to document the violations that are contributing to the process of demographic re-engineering.
Hassoun put forth a recommendation to the SOC to follow this extremely serious issue and seek the voluntary return of Syrians to their original areas after a political transition has been achieved in accordance with UN resolutions, most importantly UN Resolution 2254. (Source: SOC’s Media Department)