Among the events taking place on the 2nd of October, the International Day of Nonviolence, was a March in Madrid which started at the Syrian Embassy and ended at the offices of the European Parliament. At the Syrian Embassy an “open letter to the people of Syria” was presented and at the European Parliament office a written request was handed in, asking for MEPs to take responsibility for the disasters in several parts of the planet and to work for a culture of peace and nonviolence. At both locations the texts were read out and participants made a ceremonial request for the end of violence in all its forms which has led to millions of human beings having to leave their homes.
“Open Letter to the People of Syria”
“Today on the 2nd of October, humanists from around the world celebrate once more the International Day of Nonviolence. Since the UN established this day dedicated to the most courageous and moral forms of struggle for peace and justice, there has been no lack of reasons to continue lifting up our voices demanding a world free from all forms of violence. However, this year we are experiencing one of the sorriest tragedies that we’ve seen in many years. Syria is bleeding to death.”
Millions of displaced people, hundreds of thousands of despondent people both in the many conflict fronts and in the defenceless cities. Chaos, destruction, violence in all its manifestations. Men, women and children terrified, besieged and sacrificed at the altar of an unknown god, or a caused perverted to other ends.
It is not for us to point our accusing finger at those responsible. Too much hate, resentment, and thirst for revenge has overpowered hearts in order to continue feeding the search for people to blame. Let’s not look for people to blame. Many are those responsible but no one is to blame for what then took place. Many are the innocents in this tragedy, but on all sides we can recognise intolerance and violence in the faces of the instigators. A part of the weight of responsibility for what has happened falls on all of them. And peace will not emerge from a clamour to find other people responsible, but rather when everyone recognises their own responsibility as a necessary step to accept the fruits of a future and inevitable dialogue.
We therefore lift up our voices on this day as an asking from the depths of human hearts. A clamour that comes from very far back and within asks all of mankind and each one of the gods to, once and for all, end with the primitive pretension to impose their own convictions or their own projects through the use of brute force, the violent denial of the convictions and projects of others. And this clamour that resounds today in these streets and squares will be taken by the winds of change to all corners of Syria, so that its men and women find peace in their hearts and light in the understanding. So that this spirit that animates human beings since the day that they first stood on two feet manifests once more in the people like a growing and delayed thirst for peace and reconciliation.
Because the attainment of Peace in Syria will be the first step for the attainment of a longed-for world peace.
Signatories: The Community for Human Development, the Humanist Party, Convergence of Cultures, World without Wars and Violence, Communities of Silo’s Message.
The March followed one of Madrid’s central thoroughfares, passing by the Madrid local government building, in Plaza Cibeles, where a welcome poster for the refugees was placed, ending at the European Parliament office.
The local functionary came out to receive the written request and promised to have it distributed to all MEPs on Monday.
We, the citizens of the European Union, moved by the humanitarian crisis unfolding on our doorstep with the arrival of thousands and thousands of displaced people, and conscious of the ultimate causes of the exodus, from which the EU cannot exempt itself from an important part of the responsibility, bring to the European Parliament the following:
PROPOSAL FOR RESOLVING THE CRISIS
1) The European Parliament must recognise the responsibility of current and previous EU leaders in the development of armed conflicts in the Middle East and Africa and commit themselves to immediately withdraw all military advisers and troops from the conflict zones. The EU must promote at the UN and other international organisms the attainment of an immediate cease fire with commitment from all sides to start a dialogue that can culminate in peaceful solutions to these conflicts. To this end, all available political means must be used, especially a weapons embargo and control of the sources of financing of all factions.
2) Until we reach the end of fratricidal struggles the EU must target all its political and economic means to attend to the people suffering from the hostilities. This includes at least three aspects:
- to establish humanitarian corridors to deal with the health and food needs in the conflict zones and in regions outside the EU where refugees are concentrated.
- to establish refugee centres within the EU without quotas, coordinating efforts between member states, local administrations and voluntary organisations.
- to make available the necessary means of transport in those places of arrival outside the Union. To organise and coordinate maritime rescue operations to guarantee maximum security and dignified conditions of travel for all the refugees without distinction of their countries of origin.
3) If we want to avoid new crises in the future, a common EU foreign policy and economic policy (particularly in the area of foreign trade) must be redirected towards reducing the enormous differences between developed countries and less favoured countries, as well as the reconstruction of countries currently in conflict, on the basis of reciprocity in economic relationships.
4) European institutions must promote a culture of peace and nonviolence among its citizens, driving forward citizen initiatives and aiming towards the creation of points of dialogue between all cultures.
This proposal will, in turn, be presented to civic organisations and social movements across the length and breadth of the EU so that the people can take on a protagonist role and take care of the implementation of the points outlined here. Citizen participation and the involvement of the whole of society in our proposal will mark the start of a profound democratic revolution with an unmistakeable humanist nature and will signify the starting point for advancing from the Europe of Markets towards a Europe of the People. And this change of path will put our continent in the vanguard and make it a reference for the future Universal Human Nation.
Vídeo: Álvaro Orus / Photos: Pepi Muñoz, Juan Carlos Marín and Verónica Simón