Syria: Civil War or NATO War of Aggression for Regime Change?
Speakers: Journalist Vanessa Bealey & Rev. Andrew Ashdown
Since 2011, Syria has been in the grip of a most vicious war which has left hundreds of thousands dead, millions displaced internally, in appalling conditions in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, or perishing on their hazardous journey to seek safety in Europe. The ramifications of this war which has targeted Syria’s infrastructure, its multi-ethnic, multi-faith social fabric, and its territorial integrity, reaches far beyond Syria’s borders and threatens regional and global peace.
Journalist, Vanessa Beeley, and Rev. Andrew Ashdown who have returned from recent peace and fact-finding missions in Syria, will discuss the origins and nature of the war in Syria, the role of the media and humanitarian NGOs in constructing public opinion in favour of western military intervention, and the current prospects for reconciliation and peace.
Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE. She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. She represented Yemen at the UNHRC in March 2016 testifying on Saudi Coalition use of cluster bombs on civilian targets. Vanessa lived in Gaza during 2012 Israeli bombardment and after several trips to Gaza, launched the FB page, the Wall Will Fall “to raise awareness but also to convey the idea that through education, awareness and the development of our own consciousness we can bring down all walls that keep us in ignorance and far from the Truth”. In August 2016, she spent a week in Syria with the US Peace Council, and a further three weeks travelling independently throughout Syria including Aleppo.
Rev. Andrew Ashdown led a UK peace delegation for a fact-finding and pastoral visit to Syria in August. This was Rev Ashdown’s fifth visit to Syria since April 2014. The delegation included Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester and cross bench peers, Baroness Cox and Lord Hylton. Rev. Ashdown describes the journey which has been heavily criticized in the mainstream media and by establishment politicians as “a pastoral visit, to visit the people and listen to their voices. We were invited by Church leaders and faith leaders. We met an enormous number of people from right across the religious and sectarian spectrum and different political views. The purpose was to listen to the people and to see the situation for ourselves and to share the message when we return”.
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