September 10, 2013
The Franciscan Action Network is dedicated to advocating a Franciscan vision of peace and justice in the United States and through the United Nations, we write to you today to add our voices to the calls coming from Syria and around the world: We call for an increased and unwavering commitment to a non-violent, humanitarian, and diplomatic response to the crisis in Syria and urge refrain from military intervention. We believe that outside governments must immediately cease actions that increase the militarization of the conflict including the provision of weapons, equipment, or other support.
We share our government and the world’s serious concern over the reports of an August 21 attack using banned chemical weapons resulting in civilian casualties and human suffering. This is latest in a horrifying list of reported violence against civilians, violations of international law, and acts amounting to crimes against humanity. This event must serve to catalyze our increased resolve to guarantee the safety, needs, and rights of all Syrian people, to advance peaceful solutions to the crisis, and to bring factions to a dialogue for a negotiated end to the conflict.
We urge our government’s full support and backing of the United Nations’ investigation of the August 21 attack and to heed Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s appeals to allow time for the investigatory team to do its job. We call for full adherence to the rules of international humanitarian law by all actors in the conflict. Any and all acts that amount to grave breaches of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity as defined under the Rome Statute must be fully investigated, condemned, and those responsible prosecuted.
With Franciscans in over 160 countries, we can unfortunately testify to the scourges of war. We know that the consequences of armed conflict today are borne primarily by civilians and suffered most intensely by the most vulnerable. In the two years of Syrian conflict, the UN estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed in this conflict; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has registered more than two million people displaced since the conflict started; and UNICEF is reporting that a third of those are children under 11.
We join with Pope Francis and other faith leaders in strongly urging against a military strike. We continue to join Pope Francis and other faith leaders in prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and all places of conflict, and for people on both sides of the conflict to put down their weapons and “listen to the voice of their conscience and with courage take up the way of negotiations.” We urge our government to increase diplomatic and humanitarian action aimed at promoting peace, at advancing lasting, peaceful solutions, and guaranteeing the rights of all Syrians.
In solidarity with our Syrian brothers and sisters who must live and die with the consequences of actions and decisions of the international community.
Margaret Magee OSF Patrick Carolan
President Executive Director