Proposed 2014 Action of Immediate Witness Calling for humanitarian aid to victims of violence in Syria
June 5, 2014
Proposed by the UU Peace Ministry Network
International Red Cross: This is the greatest health crisis on earth.
The New York Times: The Most Dire Refugee Crisis in a Generation
Pope Francis decried the “globalization of indifference” to the humanitarian crisis in Syria
Whereas four years of war in Syria has left more than160,000 dead and the number brutally rises every day, quickly outdating the United Nations May 2014 report of 9.3 million driven from their homes;
Whereas more than 2.7 million refugees have fled Syria to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, most not admitted into overcrowded refugee camps but living in the streets, where they have no security, shelter, food, water, sanitation, health care or services from any humanitarian organization;
Whereas the Syrian government has blocked UN or NGO humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in rebel-held territories, and Syrian women suffer inordinately from rape and sexual violence, and children go without schooling and medical care, especially for polio;
Whereas the early peaceful protests for reform met with violent government attacks and led to blockades and starvation, chemical weapons, indiscriminate barrel bombs, and 150 hospitals destroyed, thousands of doctors, nurses, students, human rights advocates and activists tortured;
Whereas this Syrian civil war has deepened sectarian hostilities between the mostly Alawite government and other Shia groups fighting against largely Sunni-dominated groups, and has widened the door for violent radical Islamist rebels;
Whereas diplomatic and United Nations attempts to resolve the violence, and other governments’ involvement (Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia are supporting the Syrian government; while Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States are supporting the rebels) have failed to stem the violence but have made the Syrian war a proxy war for which all governments bear responsibility; and
Because we uphold the inherent worth and dignity of every person; seeking peace, liberty, and justice for all in world community; and
Recalling our historic commitment to promote international law, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and building the United Nations and the International Criminal Court; and
Recommitting ourselves to an inclusive and transformative approach to peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding, as stated in the 2010 Statement of Conscience on “Creating Peace”;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the 2014 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association calls upon Unitarian Universalists, their ministers and congregations to:
• Witness to the plight of Syrians violently displaced within their country and of Syrian refugees across the borders; convey Syrians’ stories and publicize effective programs, thereby working against the “globalization of indifference.
• Support and advocate for humanitarian programs in camps and for unsheltered refugees, such as the Trauma Resiliency Program of the UUSC in Lebanon;
• Advocate that more refugees be admitted to the United States;
• Work collaboratively with Muslims to aid Syrian refugees and to develop mutual understanding and appreciation of our cultures and religious faiths, in consultation with the UUA Office of International Resources, the UU United Nations Office, Religions for Peace, and the Peace and Unity Bridge.
The crisis in Ukraine generates anxious headlines: World War III! A new Cold War! The divisions among Ukrainians awaken old nightmares and ancient fears. In 1989 Francis Fukuyama promised us THE END OF HISTORY: a market democracy Eden. The shibboleth Soviet Union was chased from our speculations and NATO was making the world free for democracy (and capitalism). G. H. W. Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker told us, “The opportunities are historic. We have the chance to anchor Russia, Ukraine and other republics firmly into the Euro-Atlantic community and the democratic commonwealth of nations.”
As Falkner taught, “The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past.”
The past is not dead, but it is more complicated. Not only is the Russian Federation – and the emerging Eurasian Union -- engaged in the Ukraine, so is the United States. USAID/Ukraine implements a focused development assistance program to support more participatory, transparent, and accountable governance and broad-based economic development. A number of NGOs promote democracy: George Soros’s Open Society Foundations works in information and communications technologies to transfigure every area of civic and social life. The National Endowment for Democracy supports (with $250,000) the International Republican Institute (IRI): “To strengthen the ability of Ukrainian political parties to be more representative and to compete effectively in the October 2012 parliamentary elections, IRI will provide an extensive program of campaign training on voter targeting, issue-based message development, strategy for candidate recruitment for majoritarian constituencies, coalition building between democratic parties, and access to public opinion research.” Democracy promotion seems to be regime change without doing régime change. Chatham House has a report: Holding Steady? US Democracy Promotion in a Changing World. http://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/papers/view/197475
To what extent is ethnic strife responsible for Eastern Europe's unrest as opposed to economic factors? The protests began November 22, 2013, after Pres, Yanukovych refused to sign agreements with the European Union that had been in the works for years after heavy pressure from Moscow to abandon the agreements. However the debt cycle that drove Ukraine to seek such an arrangement with neighboring economic powers long predates the unrest that led to his ouster. Ukraine has faced crisis-level national debt payments for a number of years now, and on two separate occasions the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has extended a bailout package to the country. It then canceled it when Kiev failed to meet requirements for the deals. The nature of these failures repeats the recent situations in numerous other high-debt European nations. With billions of payments coming due, Ukraine must choose which of its neighbors will rescue it from a catastrophic default. For some this appears to be a case of sub-prime lending. http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/03/03/3354631/ukraine-debt/
The past not being past, a century ago this was called “Dollar Diplomacy.” In 1925 Scott Nearing wrote about American debt collection in Haiti, Nicaragua, Mexico, as well as China. In 1912, Pres. Wm H Taft had told Congress “ … the United States has been glad to encourage and support American bankers who were willing to lend a helping had to the financial rehabilitation of such countries. They need only a measurement of stability and the means of financial regeneration to enter upon an era of peace and prosperity, bring profit and happiness to themselves and at the same time creating conditions sure to yield to a flourishing interchange of trade with this country,” (Nearing, DOLLAR DIPLOMACY: A STUDY IN AMERICAN IMPERIALISM, 265)
Today, Hunter Biden, a lawyer by training and the younger of the vice president’s two sons, joined the board of directors of Ukrainian gas firm Burisma Holdings Ltd. this month and took on responsibility for the company’s legal unit. http://www.popularresistance.org/joe-bidens-son-appointed-to-board-of-largest-gas-company-in-ukraine/
On May 1, 2014 there was a Conference Call on the Stand By Arrangement with Ukraine from Washington, D.C., among a number of IMF officials. These were Reza Moghadam, Director, European Department, Nikolay Gueorguiev, Mission Chief for Ukraine, European Department, and Olga Stankova, Senior Communications Officer, Communications Department. The record reports that “the program envisages reform of the energy sector which means basically moving the prices to be more in line with international prices and cost recovery, and also increasing transparency in this sector. And finally, the program envisages a large set of governance reforms to bring, to ensure that the business environment in Ukraine is conducive to growth. An example that as a prior action for the program, the government put in place a new procurement law to have clarity and transparency in terms of government operations.” http://www.imf.org/external/np/tr/2014/tr050114.htmhttp://www.imf.org/external/np/tr/2014/tr050114.htm
Economist Michael Hudson writes in a recent post, The New Cold War’s Ukraine Gambit, “Finance in today’s world has become war by non-military means. Its object is the same as that of military conquest: appropriation of land and basic infrastructure, and the rents that can be extracted as tribute.” In our globalized system, this is taken in the form of debt service and privatization. To keep the game playing various strategies are dramatized: gender issues, immigration, identity issues, whatever distracts people from doing the work of figuring out what is being done to us. In the US, the EU, the former Soviet bloc, champions against austerity are forced to struggle against ethnic divide and conquer strategies. http://michael-hudson.com/2014/05/the-new-cold-wars-ukraine-gambit/
The past is not past.
–Frank W. Carpenter, D.Min.
Each trip gets a little bigger than the last. Thankfully, I am traveling a week behind the blizzard that hit Boston and New York. I suspect by the time I get there, things will be pretty well cleaned up and back to normal.
20 years as a travel photographer have seasoned me for this 12-day, 6-city, 3,500-mile road trip, and this time I will be joined by my friend and video producer Wade Barry to help shoot some footage from the road.
I will speak at the Dayton International Peace Museum in Ohio, Arlington Street Church in Boston, and NYU in NYC. I will install the exhibit at NYU, attend the opening reception, and meet with students. We will do eight new interviews in three different states.
In 2011, A Peace of My Mind won support from 92 backers to produce a book from the series with a foreword written by Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. The initial press run of 1,150 books sold out within two months and a second printing was made in January of 2012. The book has earned a gold medal in the Midwest Book Awards and a silver medal from the Independent Publishers Association.
Selected discussion topics are included in the back of the book to facilitate dialogue, and for those interested in a more in-depth conversation, a 6-week study guide is available for free as a pdf for those who purchase multiple copies of the book for book clubs and study groups.
In addition to online sales through Amazon, the book is available from several bookstores in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas.
For large orders and book club orders, please contact A Peace of My Mind directly for discounted prices.
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