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Report and films of remarkable AMRIS Forum for Peace in Syria, Melbourne 6 March 2013

This is the text of the introductory speech by Susan Dirgham to what turned out to be an uplifting evening on the politics of war in Syria, as interpreted by members of AMRIS (Australians for Mussalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria). The speakers formed a panel of two young women and one man, all with different connections to Syria and different perspectives. The level of political sophistication was very high, impressive, and stimulating. For those of you who were not able to attend the Unitarian Church on Wednesday 6 March, I filmed the event in four films. The films are embedded in this article and available at;; and

AMRIS (Australians for Mussalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria).
Susan Dirgham: On behalf of AMRIS [Australians for Mussalaha (Reconciliation) in Syria] I’d like to thank the Unitarian Church, particularly the Social Justice Committee for hosting this evening.

What unites all the speakers you will hear tonight is a love for the people and secular societies of Syria and/or Lebanon.

That word ‘love’ isn’t sniggered at in Syria, as it might be in Australia. People use it frequently and it has meaning.

I don’t want to idealize Syrian society and the people, but in my mind, there is something in the air in Syria, or there was in the Syria I knew when I lived there and visited. It is very human, and very precious, and genuine.

The other main speakers at the forum were Edward, Nina and Leyla, pictured below. Each of his/her pictures is linked to the embedded video of his/her talk.

I used to believe I could take something of value from our modern affluent world to Syria. Like a 21st Century missionary.

I took diaries with beautiful photos of Australian landscapes and I took koalas.

But I found so much in Damascus and other parts of Syria that was precious and that couldn’t be packed in a bag. It was both a physical and metaphysical expression of the history of humanity, something grand and sweeping, and tragic and triumphant, and still very much present - being lived by the people in Syria who have Arab, Turk, French, British, Palestinian, Russian, Roman, Greek, Circassian, Armenian, Kurd etc etc in their blood.

In the classrooms of the British Council, I felt that my Syrian students had a common purpose in bringing their society together, in modernizing it and uniting the disparate peoples, despite the enormous challenges and the threats from outside. It was hard work that the people of Syria were committed to, the women as much as the men.

In Syria, I was very conscious of the plight of the Palestinian people and of the war in Iraq. On television, we saw images of US soldiers walking the streets of Baghdad looking as alien there and as unwelcome as say Saudi Arabian soldiers would if they were striding the streets of Australia with AK47s.

But Syria was on the list of countries the neo-cons in the US planned to topple. Now the US and its allies are waging a modern day Cowboy and Indian fight in Syria, a 21st century digital crusade against Syria, with support from Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Israel and Australia.

So it is a love for Syria and Lebanon which unites the speakers tonight. And it is Mother Agnes Mariam who has brought us together. Mother Agnes, as described by Angela Shanahan in The Australian (6 Oct 2011) was the mother superior of a 1500-year-old monastery in Syria.

For me, she is a modern day hero in a time when we imagine we don’t need heroes because our suburban life-style and city scape look so permanent. But trust me, we need heroes. The grand architecture and monuments or Syria appeared permanent to me; and the free and easy lifestyle which allowed young women to go out alone at night in Damascus did, too.

We need heroes. And we need to search hard for the truth, and demand that people in our media and the government do the same.

As in the 1930s, there are signs that a most terrible genocide could be committed in Syria and the region. It has to be prevented.

Questions and discussion in the latter half of the forum


Call for peace in Syria

Published on VoltaireNet on 3 Mar 2013.

For almost 2 years western media and governments have been leveling a flurry of accusations against the legal and legitimate head of the Syrian state, against his government and against Syria’s military. They try to pass the victim off as the culprit, as they did in Libya and in other free and independent countries. Indeed armed groups some more organized than others, some coming from abroad are spreading terror in Syria. It is therefore normal for the legitimate regime of Syria to send in the police and the military to fight the uprising. According to the most basic legal principles which are the only way to secure peace between nations, governments have the duty to protect the people from domestic and foreign attacks. Ensuring law and order is a government’s main duty. What would our governments do if part of the population took arms to overthrow them with the help of foreign mercenaries ? Wouldn’t they send in the police and the military ? Would they step down without batting an eyelid as they ask the legitimate Syrian government to do ?

The truth is that not only is there an aggression against Syria, there is also an organized propaganda campaign orchestrated at the international, this campaign is aimed at misleading the public and stirring trouble. Some footage on the so called repression from the Syrian army were not even shot in Syria. The aim of that propaganda campaign that blatantly flouts international law is to egg on the uprising, to fuel the civil war and to deny the regime its legitimacy by demonizing it. Those who are orchestrating that campaign are judges and executioners.

Indeed the same countries, their servants and their allies (such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are cruel and intolerant toward their own people) are on the one hand presenting themselves as the judges of the Syrian Government and the Syrian Army and on the other hand they support, bankroll and give weapons to mercenaries, who are often foreign, who inflict destruction and violence upon Syrian civilians. It is these mercenaries the Syrian military is fighting. The actual criminals are western governments and their servants that is Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They triggered that fratricidal war and they have been fueling it since the very beginning. If it hadn’t been for their support to the rebels and mercenaries, order would have been restored in Syria a long time ago and the western media wouldn’t be able to carry out that propaganda campaign.

Western governments took advantage of the wind of revolt that was sweeping some Muslim countries to spark off armed rebellions in other countries whose leaders they disliked because they were not bowing and scraping to them. Western governments along with subservient media outlets are well intent on taking advantage of the situations they have created to speak out against the legitimate governments of those countries, to discredit them and finally attack them militarily. They have no qualms resorting to lies and falsehoods. They systematically hold the governments in power and their armies responsible for the atrocities committed by foreign aggressors themselves.

Whether it be out of ignorance, cowardice or lack of morals, politicians, journalists, intellectuals, and jurists in Europe, in the Middle East and in other places are part of that propaganda campaign with the blessing of the United states. They all believe they can speak in the name of righteousness and the fight of good against evil.

They are wrong. The signatories of this petition are lawyers from different countries, they don’t want to interfere in Syria’s domestic affairs. They just want to say in the name of reason and dignity that they are outraged by the tactics used against Syria. We support the Syrian government in its just struggle against a domestic and foreign aggression. We condemn all forms of support from abroad to these good-for-nothings who spread terror and death, who are presented by the west as « the free Syrian army ». We pledge to do our utmost to help the Syrian government defend its legitimacy and authority and to bring the truth on this aggression to light. The sole victim of this aggression is the Syrian people. As in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya Western imperialism shamelessly denounces the suffering it has caused in the first place.

The list of signatories

Up to this day the petition has been signed by 10 lawyers from 4 western countries.

Bruno BARDECHE, (Paris).
André CHAMY, (Mulhouse).
Fabrice DELINDE, (Hauts de Seine).
Eric DELCROIX, (Paris).
Pascal JUNOD, (Geneva).
Henri LAQUAY, (Brussels).
Philippe MISSAMOU, (Hauts de Seine).
Bernard RIPERT, (Grenoble).
Stefano SUTTI, (Milan).
Damien VIGUIER, (Ain).

Youtube broadcast at:

The text and dialogue is all Arab language. Nonetheless, the scenes shown are more confirmation that the claim that President Bashar al-Assad is a hated tyrant, repeated [1] by Australian foreign minister Bob Carr, is a fabrication of the Australian and Western newsmedia.

This video shows that actions against Syria ,in which the Autralian Government is complicit


[1] Bob Carr's words include on 8  2012:

This additional funding is a step forward in helping the thousands of Syrian civilians caught up in the struggle against the Assad regime.