The Media Committee for the Syrian International Conference has released more information and details about the Conference: “For a Democratic Syria and Civil State”, which is due to take place on Monday and Tuesday, 28 – 29 January 2013 in Geneva. This conference notably acknowledges the existence of the “other opposition” which led the opposition movement against the regime at the beginning of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, and which has subsequently been marginalized by Arab and Western powers who have instead supported those from the Islamic right-wing and new liberal approach. The Committee stressed that the Conference has been arranged following requests by prominent figures and countries, including requests from within the European Union, to promote the democratic civil opposition and to hold a conference for this. In preparing the Conference, the organizers have sought to bring together more than 100 people from the opposition from both within Syria and from different movements and opposition political parties, and to highlight the importance of breaking the siege against the peaceful uprising and the civilian opposition.
The Conference has been organized by the Scandinavian Institute for Human Rights in collaboration with the Horan Citizenship Forum and the Arab Commission for Human Rights. Some 37 opposition parties and HR NGOs leaders and individuals will participate in Geneva later this month. A spokesperson from Media for the Conference Committee said:
“This is the first Syrian international conference promoting the popular and peaceful civil movement that started out from Daraa city on 18 March 2011 for freedom and justice, dignity and equality among the Syrian people without discrimination on the grounds of nationality, religion or ideology.
The Conference organizers believe that the revolution has been kidnapped from its leaders’ hands, assassinated by the dictatorial regime but also by the Counter Revolution and that the image of the Syrian revolution has been greatly distorted in Syrian society and the international community. The peaceful revolution where people confronted the bullets bare-chested has been forgotten as a result of contempt shown it by those calling firstly and secondly for arms, and finally for weapons.”
The organisers believe that the civil society uprising has been blockaded by the blind violence and sanctifying glorification of the call to take up arms, and the killing between sons of the same community, which has led to the marginalization of the civil and peaceful movement. They are accused of supporting the dictatorship.
The media supports those calling for arms at the expense of the voice of the civil movement. Prominent Syrian opposition who are participating in the Conference do not hide their deep dissatisfaction about the domination of Western and Arab Gulf media that supports arms and various armed groups including jihadist and foreigners, and who have been ignoring on the other hand the democratic demands of a civil state. The revolution has been presented as though it originates from one ideological and political religious group.
The Conference organisers have planned a programme that includes speakers, and aim particularly to give voice to those from inside Syria to speak loudly about their civil and peaceful resistance. This includes well-known Islamic and democratic figures, and representatives of Nasserism, socialism, communism and liberals and the Kurdish movement, who will have opportunities to interact with significant Arab and international figures.
In the program we can find interventions regarding:
· Civilian State and Sectarianism
· Production of Dictatorship and Violence in Syria
· Armed Islamic Movements and Democratic perspectives
· Violence and Democracy in Syria
· Securitas State and the Abolition of Civilian Space
· Human Rights in the discourse of the military opposition
· Perspectives for Truth, Accountability and Reconciliation in Syria
· Development and Reconstruction in Syria
· Manufacturing of violence and sectarianism in the Media
· And last but not least: Chances and Opportunities for a Political Solution
The basic costs of the Conference are being met by non-governmental organizations that are funding the hotel, translation, food and travel costs, and some people are supporting others who would otherwise not be able to pay for their tickets. They are showing by example that within the civilian project, participation, giving and volunteering are important and alive at the heart of Syrian people, despite the deliberate destruction and systematic impoverishment that seeks to turn Syria from a failed state into a State of beggars.
Arab and International prominent figures will attend the Conference, including Dr. Nader Fergany – author of the Arab Development Report and Director of the Almishkat Center for Research and Training in Cairo, Kjell Brygfjeld –well-known Norwegian lawyer, the head of the “Sherpa”, William Bourdon – the most prominent lawyer at International Criminal Court – ICC, the well known British journalist Jonathan Steele,Islamic democrate Laith Shubeilat and Honorary President of the Belgian Senate Anne-Marie Lizin.
From the Syrian opposition we can find: Aref Dalila, Haytham Manna, Rim Turkmani, Riad Drar, Louay Hussein, Naser al Ghazali and more than 90 leaders of the opposition of the interior