Tag Archives: syria

In which I consume news like most people…

As I wrote earlier, I properly chilled out on my holidays. Very little work, next to no reading and lots of walks,silly games and fun. I could get used to that lifestyle…

This all meant that I consumed news like a normal person rather than an obsessive who has half an eye on Twitter and the rolling news channels at all times lest something might happen in the world and she might miss it. If the news happened to be on, I’d watch it if there was no gripping Olympic action going on at the same time, but I wasn’t too fussed about it.

I didn’t totally cut myself off. My car would probably fall to pieces if it wasn’t tuned into Radio 4, after all.

So, from my rather more normal news consumption over the past week, what sparked my interest? Four stories leapt out at me.

Of course the heartbreaking photo of Omran Daqneesh would break all but the hardest of hearts. The traumatised and blood covered little boy symbolised the effects of war on children. As these things go, though, Omran was relatively lucky. Most of his family are still alive, although his brother died of injuries sustained in the same airstrike. Children suffer horrendously every single day in Syria and other war zones across the world. The previous week’s horribly distressing footage of the chlorine gas attack showed tiny babies struggling for breath. This is a horrible, relentless reality for millions of people. We must never forget that. The pictures should provoke an empathy in us that leads us to push the Government to do more to help those still in Syria and those who have escaped. They should make us all realise that those who have fled had good reason to do so and we should challenge those who suggest otherwise.

Prejudice and punishment

I’m not a fan of anyone telling women what to wear. There’s nothing like a public figure telling women that they shouldn’t wear something to make me want to wear one in sympathy. When the mayor of Cannes banned the “burquini” it made me furious that the likely effect of this would be that those women who wear such a garment, who were guilty of no crime, would effectively not be able to access their own seaside for no good reason. And if they couldn’t go, then it would be likely that their children would be restricted, too.

Garments aren’t divisive. Banning them on a whim most certainly is.

There are few cultures in the world in which women are treated with the equality they deserve. France might want to have a wee think about how its own globally renowned fashion industry has forced unrealistic and often damaging expectations on to women, for example.

Governments should be setting an example of inclusiveness, not picking on specific group of people in a manner that effectively incites prejudice against them.

Should people start seriously arguing for similar bans in this country, I’ll be first in the queue to wear one in solidarity.

Fat lot of good that was

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 24 Comments

March with Medics Under Fire – ‘Newbie’ Saleyha Ahsan leads the way

Many Lib Dems will remember Junior Doctor Saleyha Ahsan’s rousing conference rally speech (37:45) in York, in which she joined the party ‘live on air’ and blasted Hunt for his attacks on our NHS. Of course, you may also recognise her from her work on the BBC’s ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor’ or know her from the 2013 BBC documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ in which, while working in Atareb Hospital in northern Syria she was required to help treat the dozens of casualties brought in from one of the Assad …

Posted in Op-eds | 4 Comments

As war accelerates again in Syria it’s time for us to act

“Time is running out to save Syria’s ceasefire” warned Dr Haytham Alhamwi of the Manchester-based Syrian Rethink Rebuild Society three weeks ago “otherwise Assad will get the message that he can persist with ever more egregious violations”. Now the always limited ‘cessation of hostilities’ is, in the words of UN envoy Staffan de Mistura “barely alive“.

On Thursday one of free Aleppo’s last remaining paediatricians was killed along with colleagues and patients in the “broader pattern of systematic targeting of hospitals by the government of Bashar al-Assad”. The Syrian government is doing what it always does when dragged to the negotiating table: distract, prevaricate and take the opportunity to step up repression of non-violent activists and organise a security build-up for the outright military victory Assad promised no sooner had the ceasefire been agreed.

Posted in Op-eds | 19 Comments

Five years into a revolution betrayed – Liberal Democrats need to build links with Syrians

Syrians

Note, this post contains descriptions of torture that some readers may find distressing.

Five years ago, on Friday 18th March 2011, Syrian civilians in the southern town of Deraa took to the streets to demand freedom, dignity and a fair future. The regime of Bashar al-Assad and his coterie responded immediately with deadly force, and over the following weeks more and more protesters were shot down, more and more mourners were murdered while attending funerals and more and more innocent Syrians were rounded up for torture – in many cases never to be seen again.

Posted in Op-eds | 8 Comments

Lib Dems call for Syria action update

Yesterday in the House of Commons the Liberal Democrats demanded an urgent update on the military situation in Syria and the ability for MPs to hold the government to account.

As part of the debate last year on military action in Syria, we said that we wanted to see regular updates to the House of Commons. The Prime Minister agreed to give quarterly statements. Three months on, it is time for David Cameron to stick to his promise.

Parliamentary questions have uncovered the UK military airstrikes in Syria have totalled 43 targets in Syria in three months and 319 Daesh targets in Iraq.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tom Brake said:

It is critical that wherever our Armed Forces are in active combat that the government is as open as possible about the progress of that activity. Parliament voted to support the extension of airstrikes to Syria on the basis that we would be provided with regular updates, and 3 months on from that vote it is time for the government to deliver that promise.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Paddy on “moral duty” to save starving Syrians

Paddy Ashdown has teamed up with Labour MP and former Oxfam staffer Jo Cox to make the case for urgent action to help not just those people suffering in Madaya but the 1 million Syrians suffering the effects of sieges. They wrote in the Telegraph:

The UN estimates that 400,000 people have been systematically denied food, medicine and water in medieval siege conditions in Syria: the real figure is probably nearer to one million. Meanwhile the Syrian Government plays grandmothers footsteps with the international community: besiege a city, wait for the political pressure to build, make limited or phoney concessions, and then, when everyone has lost interest, continue as before. Last year the UN made 91 requests of the Syrian government to secure humanitarian access across conflict lines. Less than a third of those have been approved. In total, only 13 cross-line convoys were completed.

Posted in Europe / International and LibLink | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Syrian Conflict: What is the strategy for dealing with the failure of the Vienna talks?

 

I opposed the government’s (and this party’s) support for air strikes against ISIS in Syria not because I think there is a credible alternative to confronting them militarily, nor because I don’t wish to stand with our allies, nor because I doubt that air strikes helped saved large numbers of Kurdish lives in both Iraq and Syria. I opposed them because while they can and ought to be part of a strategy for defeating ISIS, the government’s Syria policy is full of contradictions and I don’t think it can succeed. Largely because it does not put the protection of civilian life in Syria at its heart and so will not mesh with the priorities of the people living and dying in the country.

While a lot of the recent debate has been about UK politics, principles, pacifism, opportunism, leadership and rebellion, comparatively little was actually said about Syria and even less was heard from actual Syrians. Faith in the Vienna peace talks as being the only or at least best chance for a negotiated peace is misplaced. This statement from Syrian community representatives in the UK makes the case eloquently: 

Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments
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