Jeremy Corbyn must ‘break silence’ on Assad and Russian bombings

Labour and Momentum activists sign letter calling on Corbyn to help Syrians stop the war

 

Jeremy Corbyn must ‘speak out on Syria’ and condemn Russia’s bombing of civilians, say Labour and Momentum activists in an open letter to the Labour leader and anti-war campaigner.

The letter’s signatories, who are supporters of Corbyn’s leadership, say they share his ‘opposition to militarism’ but reject the ‘false’ choice between backing war and doing nothing.

Corbyn has said he supports a negotiated settlement in Syria to end the war, but Syrian activists say he should condemn war crimes by the Assad regime and its ally Russia, and back humanitarian efforts.

The letter comes after Corbyn was heckled by protesters at a Stop the War Coalition event in London on Saturday.

It reads:

‘We ask that you condemn, clearly and specifically, the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria, which have caused the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths and which present the biggest obstacle to any workable solution to the Syrian crisis.’

It also urges Corbyn to ‘lend your wholehearted support to practical measures to support civilians and pressure the regime to end its attacks, such as airdrops of aid to besieged civilians by British military forces’.

The letter adds:

”Food not bombs’ should be the rallying cry, not ‘Hands off Syria’, which only gives the Assad regime and Russia carte blanche to continue with their slaughter.’

It was published under the name ‘Speak Out On Syria’ and shared by Syria Solidarity UK, and is signed by Labour Party members, Momentum activists, trade unionists and socialists.

You can read the full letter and list of signatories below:

….

JEREMY CORBYN: SPEAK OUT ON SYRIA!

An open letter to the Leader of the Labour Party from concerned Labour Party members, Momentum activists and socialists.

To add your name, please email speakoutonsyria@gmail.com

Dear Jeremy,

We write as members of the Labour Party and Momentum, as socialist activists, or as other supporters of your leadership of the Labour Party.

We agree wholeheartedly with your opposition to militarism and nuclear weapons, and your call for an end to British arms exports to countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Yet we are concerned by your silence – thus far – on the ongoing slaughter of civilians by Russian and Assad-regime forces in Syria.

We share your scepticism about kneejerk military responses to the situation in Syria, such as the bombing campaign against ISIS proposed by David Cameron last autumn.

We are not asking you to back Western interventions of this kind, but simply to say clearly and unequivocally that the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria are barbaric war crimes, and that you will seek to end them, and to hold their perpetrators to account.

We applaud your efforts, over decades, to end the crimes of brutal regimes supported by Western powers. But we do not believe that this exhausts the duties of anti-imperialists, socialists and peace activists in Western countries.

The fact that Assad is supported not by the USA or Britain, but by Russia and Iran, does not make his crimes any less horrific, or the political future he represents for the people of Syria any less dismal. Nor does it mean that Western political leaders are powerless in acting to oppose these crimes.

We know only too well that there are those in the anti-war movement who will denounce any move critical of Russia, Iran, or Assad as tantamount to support for Western imperialist intervention.

We also know that there are those on the right of British politics who will claim any such move as a concession to their policy of militaristic grandstanding.

The debate on Syria has been polarised between these two positions – scrupulous ‘non-intervention’ in the face of massive carnage enabled by Russian intervention, versus support for bombing campaigns as part of a Western ‘war on terror’. We have all been asked to take up a position in these terms. But the terms are false.

We appreciate your concern not to lend support to right-wing calls for fruitless bombing campaigns. But in the face of the horrors being perpetrated across Syria, with impunity, and above all by Russian and Assad-regime forces, we believe socialists and anti-war activists cannot simply look on in silence.

We ask that you condemn, clearly and specifically, the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria, which have caused the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths and which present the biggest obstacle to any workable solution to the Syrian crisis.

We also urge you to lend your wholehearted support to practical measures to support civilians and pressure the regime to end its attacks, such as airdrops of aid to besieged civilians by British military forces.

Guaranteeing delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians is not only a way to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at risk of disease and starvation.

It is also a non-violent and humanitarian way to pressure the regime into a negotiated political solution to the conflict, by undermining a key part of its strategy: the ‘kneel or starve’ campaigns deployed against opposition areas since 2013.

‘Food not bombs’ should be the rallying cry, not ‘Hands off Syria’, which only gives the Assad regime and Russia carte blanche to continue with their slaughter.

Failure to act on this issue now threatens to undermine practically and politically much of the work done over many years by the anti-war movement. The legacy of yourself and the anti-war movement over Syria must not be one of silence and inaction in the face of such momentous atrocities.

Yours fraternally,

Peter Hill, Oxford University UCU Hon. Secretary (personal capacity), Oxford and District Labour Party and Momentum

Mark Boothroyd, Unite Health National Industrial Sector Committee (personal capacity), Camberwell and Peckham CLP

James Nowlan, Labour Party and Momentum member

Luke Cooper, academic and campaigner

Andy Forse, Oxford Labour Party, Momentum National Committee

Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism, founder member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Mike Rowley, Labour City Councillor for Barton, Sandhills and North-East Headington (Oxford)

Adam Ramsay, co-founder, Bright Green

Chris Fox, Wimbledon CLP, Thee Faction member

Christopher Roche, Bath UCU Vice President (personal capacity), Bath Trades Union Council President (personal capacity), Bristol West CLP

Becky Boumelha, Labour Campaign Against Prevent

Ashley Inglis, member of the Labour Party and Stop the War Coalition

Mark Price, Labour Party member, Momentum member (Welsh Labour Grassroots) and Community Councillor for Croesyceiliog

Chris Strafford, Communications Officer, University of Manchester UNISON

Vijay Jackson, Hastings and Rye CLP, Scottish Labour Young Socialists, Treasurer, Momentum Edinburgh, BAME Officer, Edinburgh Labour Students

William R Rolfe, Labour and Momentum member, Branch Secretary PCS Revenue and Customs South East Valuation Branch

Bill MacKeith, member of Labour Party, Momentum, National Union of Journalists

Liz Peretz, Labour Party and Momentum member, Oxford

Padraic Finn, Brent Stop the War

Lisa Dempster, Unison Knowsley branch and National disabled members committee, Momentum member

Patrick Murphy, NUT Executive member for West Yorkshire

Merlin Gable, Monmouth CLP

Andy Wilson, Hackney CLP

Steven Ellis, Streatham CLP

Alison Lord, Walthamstow CLP

Tony Aldis, Labour Party and Momentum member

Kris Stewart, Socialist activist

Neil Rogall, member of rs21 and UCU

Brian Parkin, member of rs21 and UCU, University of Leeds

Tom Cutterham, Labour Party, Momentum and UCU member, University of Birmingham

Miriyam Aouragh, academic and campaigner

Bethan Jones, Labour Party and Momentum member

Max Leak, Labour and Momentum member

Gary Budgen, Walthamstow CLP

Tom Travers, Labour Party member

Sam Doherty, Manchester Momentum

Kat Burdon-Manley, rs21 member, Unison

Emily McDonagh, Unite

Ed McNally

Barnaby Raine

Christopher Ford, Walthamstow Constituency Labour Party

Edd Mustill, Liverpool Riverside CLP and Momentum member

Tom Harris, Lewisham West and Penge CLP, Lewisham Young Labour

Christian Hill, Socialist Activist

Jaskiran Kaur Chohan, Labour Party and Momentum Member

Lynton North, Torridge & West Devon CLP / Momentum

Hannah Fox, Labour Party member

Omar Raii, Hornsey & Wood Green CLP

Tom Dale, Labour Party member, Hackney South & Shoreditch

Pete Radcliff, Broxtowe Momentum

Nathan Roberts, Lambeth Momentum

Sue Shaw, Labour and Momentum member, Henley CLP

Susan Pashkoff

Daniel Nichols, Romford CLP

Nick Hostettler, Streatham CLP, Lambeth Momentum

Phil Vellender, Hackney Labour Party, UCU HE member, Senior Lecturer

Tom Davies, Walthamstow CLP and NUJ member

Les Hearn, Holborn & St Pancras CLP, NUT member

Gabriel Pogrund

David Moynihan, Hackney Labour Party

Pete Firmin, Hampstead & Kilburn CLP and Momentum member

Jane Connor, Walthamstow West Labour Party

Sheen Gleeson, Hackney

Vivien Green

Mags Gainsborough

Tony Benson

Stephen Wood, Hayes & Harlington CLP, Hillingdon LG Unison

Nicholas Sebley, Labour Party member and Corbyn voter

Hannah Davies, Labour supporter

Mark Coulter, Hull, East Yorkshire

Damian Walenta

Andrew Spink, Labour Party member, West Yorkshire

Andy Morgan, Worcester

Javaad Alipoor, Theatre maker and activist

For more on Syrian activism visit Syria Solidarity UK

Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13 

See: Boris Johnson cheered for Assad’s troops in Syria. Now he’s foreign secretary

9 Responses to “Jeremy Corbyn must ‘break silence’ on Assad and Russian bombings”

  1. raba

    Yes Cobyn needs to comment on the carnage in Allepo, but please explain why Allepo alone is to be commented upon? Only last week the yemen city of Sanaa suffered a barbaric air raid that killed and maimed hundreds of civilians, why is there no concern from the ‘concerned’ and our politicioans. why no calls for that war to stop? are yemenis les human than Allepoans?

  2. Stephan

    Corbyn has no greater need to talk about Aleppo than he does about WHO our government is actually supporting alongside the US in Syria. These so called moderate rebels are terrorists one minute – but democracy loving friends the next. Isn’t it obvious that we – the UK and the US are as big a reason for the prolonged fight to return Syria to peace as anyone else? Why are we arming and training people who are known killers in both Syria and Yemen? Where are the calls from our media for our MP’s to talk about reality rather than half-truths, lies and spin from the likes of Kerry? Its time for Parliament to discuss a far broader spectrum than simply what the US (heavily biased) agenda dictates. Are we really just an American satellite? Are we simply there to legitimize their thirst for continued global domination? These are all legitimate issues both Corbyn and May need to address.

  3. FlyByLiberators

    ‘We appreciate your concern not to lend support to right-wing calls for fruitless bombing campaigns. But in the face of the horrors being perpetrated across Syria, with impunity, and above all by Russian and Assad-regime forces, we believe socialists and anti-war activists cannot simply look on in silence.’
    What a PATHETIC equation. In order to pretend you care about peace you have to pretend there is NOTHING more important than Corbyn BEING RUDE. What are sanctions for then? You don’t actually think they do anything they’re just a chance for Empire Decents to say EWW EWW NO TOUCH DIRTY EWWW – Such DECENCY!
    Once again Corbyn says “I condemn all bombing” and the Decent snarl he ‘refuses’ to condemn the IRA. Terrific logic – if you think the UVF did nothing wrong.
    Where is the actual proposal to help stop the war?
    Translations from Decent:
    ‘all’ – Not all.
    ‘explicitly’ – exclusively.
    ‘help Syrians stop the war’ – make me feel better about supporting war.

  4. Michael WALKER

    frankly this is all rubbish.

    What UK troops will we contribute to peacekeeping in Syria? None,

    Actions not words required.

    Let the Syrians kill each other as they don’t appear to want to stop. We can do nothing.. (And the US will do little either)..

  5. CR

    It seems to me that both sides are equally nasty in this war. One lot of extremist islamists trying to kill another lot of extremist islamists.

    How about discusing how some form of real secular democracy can be introduced to the middle east?

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  8. Martyn Wood-Bevan

    I have read enough to conclude that the rebels are very destructive in Syria and that the whole issue of trying to topple Assad was because he would not allow gas pipelines through Syria from Dubai to Europe. Since when he has been villified by the West.

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