Syrian Opposition Coalition
Department of Media and Communications
October 02, 2021
The Syrian people have been making tremendous sacrifices for the sake of freedom for over ten years. They do not need anyone to remind them that Syria is still their homeland, and that the return of refugees to their homeland is a national, humanitarian and international responsibility.
Turning the refugee issue into a subject of political wrangling is totally unacceptable and contradicts the minimum degree of humanitarian sense. Worse still is when it comes to using Syrian refugees as convenient scapegoats to blame for the administrative, economic and political crises and to stress the necessity of forcing the refugees to return, according to the reprehensible statements by the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi of Lebanon.
We remind the Maronite Patriarch that one of the major reasons for the displacement of Syrians to neighboring countries, especially Lebanon, is the terror of the Hezbollah militia and its involvement in shedding Syrians’ blood under abhorrent sectarian slogans. Whoever wants to deal with the refugee issue in Lebanon should point out those who are responsible for the displacement of the Syrian people, rather than blaming the victims or exploiting their plight for political ends.
We cannot but express our deep appreciation to our brothers in neighboring countries who are dealing with Syrian refugees with a humanitarian and fraternal logic, despite everyone’s recognition that displacement can have undeniable social and economic impact.
The situation in Syria cannot be assessed using faulty, biased reasoning. Multiple international reports and testimonies have already warned of the enormous dangers of the forcible return of Syrian refugees to the regime-held areas or to those being subjected to constant bombardment by the Assad regime, the Iranian militias, the terrorist Hezbollah militia, and Russian warplanes and artillery. Forcible return will constitute a blatant crime and violation of the rights of refugees and also of international law.
Those who make these statements must read the report that Amnesty International issued in early September under the title: “You are going to your death.” The report must be attached to the next letter to His Holiness Pope Francis so that he knows the horrible details of the report which revealed only a tiny part of the horrors that many Syrian refugees were subjected to after they were forced to return to the regime’s areas, especially torture and rape.
We stress the responsibility of the clergy to spread the messages of love, tolerance and coexistence and to avoid spreading hate speech and incitement in view of its dangerous consequences for societal peace and the relationship between societies.
We reiterate the responsibility of the international community and major actors with regard to respecting international agreements on refugees and preventing the forcible return of any Syrian refugee in any way or under any pretext.