Clarification from ASO Center Regarding Incompatibility with The Outcomes of The Syrian Network Association Meetings
On May 18, 2020, the Syrian Network Association has sent an official invitation to ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies, to join working groups under the auspices of the Syrian Network Association aiming to draft a letter on behalf of Syrian civil society to be sent to the European Union and the United Nations agencies involved in Brussels donors conference. And accordingly, ASO Center agreed to accede, believing in the importance of full participation and unifying efforts with the Syrian CSOs in issues that concern the Syrian people of all its components, aspects and the whole geographic area of Syria.
At first, and according to the agreement, the aim of this meeting was supposed to draft a letter to be sent to the European Union and the United Nations agencies participating in Brussels conference. Regarding that the letter includes recommendations of the civil society and the Syrian humanitarian institutions in various work sectors, facilitating regulation process, setting standards for representing civil organizations and ensuring appropriate participation for women. As well as, integrating people with special needs, developing agenda proposals, involving in leading participants processes, and that there should be a role for monitoring and accountability in the Syrian issue and following up on the conference outcomes. However, other reasons, that will be mentioned and illustrated later on, has altered the path of the dialogue to a different one.
During the first days of the meetings, discussions were constructive and consistent with the views of the participating organizations, and there existed some consensus on the format outlines of the statement to be sent to Brussels Donors Conference. However, this consensus was ended soon, especially between the organizations operating in NES within the transitional justice and social cohesion group, as soon as the drafting process was started. Hence, disagreement points were as follows:
• The insistence of many of the interlocutor organizations within the transitional justice group and the organizations participating in the meetings of the Syrian Networks Association on listing Russia as an occupying country, and not accepting the other international and regional occupations, and the Turkish occupation specifically; despite the understanding of the organizations operating in North and Northeast Syria of the conditions of Syrian organizations operating in Turkey, and which may be held accountable for listing Turkey as an occupation country, and despite that some opinions were legitimizing the Turkish occupation of large areas of Syria, as well as our submission of a proposal stating that all foreign powers, international and regional, are considered occupation forces without naming the entity.
• The non-acceptance of many organizations in the Transitional Justice group and the organizations participating in the Association of Syrian Networks meetings that the letter should include a clause stipulating the cessation of military operations over the entire Syrian geography and their allocation only in Idlib governorate in the introduction of the letter. Taking that into consideration, we have previously agreed on that one of the core pillars of civil action is the condemnation of violence and military actions, everywhere.
• The non-acceptance of many organizations in the Transitional Justice group and the organizations participating in the Association of Syrian Networks meetings that the letter should include a clause stipulating the condemnation of all violations committed by the occupied foreign forces and the Syrian military factions and groups, as well as refusing to include a condemnation of the violations in North and Northeast Syria. In addition to their rejection to address the violations subjected on the Syrians in Afrin, Ras Al-Ain, Tell Abyad and other areas as they are not included within the Syrian geography. Knowing that, driving from our understanding of the circumstances of many of these organizations, we have suggested drafting a general statement which is '' condemning all violations committed by all local, regional and international parties against citizens in all the Syrian lands.''
• Several organizations in the Transitional Justice Committee and the participating organizations in the Syrian Network Association meetings have refused to include a clause in the letter which stipulates the removal of all traces resulting from forced displacement and demographic change in Syria, without specifying the geographical area, from the far South of Syria to the far North.
Based on this, a group of Syrian Civil Organizations operating in North and Northeast Syria at 14:45 of Thursday morning on May 04 2020 decided to deliver their attitude (with disapproval) with the posited outcomes of the Syrian Network Association meetings and not to participate in signing the letter addressed by them to the conference of Brussels to the donors. With full appreciation for the efforts of some of Syrian specialists and civil Syrian activists to sustain dialogue doors open and their positive role in bringing the views closer. However, the adherence of the organizations in the Transitional Justice Committee and the participating organizations in the Syrian Network Association, to the clauses aforementioned, their disapproval of our demands, and sending us a fixed irreversible context for approval in order to return to the committee meetings, have prevented reaching consensus, and blocked the door of dialogue between us.
We, at ASO Center for Consultancy and Strategic Studies, still believe in the necessity of dialogue and approval among Syrian Civil Organizations. As well as, the intensity of civil efforts for solving societal, civic, and legal Syrian issues. We also consider the case of Idlib as a Syrian one which concerns Syria as a whole, as is Houran and the eastern Ghouta case, as is the case of Afrin, Ras Al-Ain and Tell Abyad. However, we conclusively, refuse the duplication of rights, dedication of regionalism and nationalism that some civil parties attempt to work on and consolidate hate speech and violence in the Syrian community. As it is unacceptable to divide rights and prefer an area on the expense of another one based on sectarian, national and religious identity.
We would like to note that organizations and individuals that devote the culture of hate in the Syrian community, keep creating obstacles in the way of the generation of a real Syrian civil community that works for Syria and the Syrians in their national, religious and sectarian varieties. Therefore, we do not prioritize any authorities that consider supporting the Syrians, as supporting a political or military party in the country. As long as the occurring issue is archived by all the organizations, associations, and institutions, we do not respond to this issue by a reaction since it is obvious for everyone. Despite all our attempts of refraining and not indulging in Facebook arguments and others, we have found ourselves facing an inciting rhetoric from some Syrian civil activists. They have explicitly announced it on their own websites which put us before the responsibility of objective and transparent clarification of what really happened. Therefore, today, we forward it to you and you have the decision and judgement.
Issued on June 09, 2020