Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Damascus Declaration in English

A number of readers have asked for a copy of the Damascus Declaration issued by the united opposition in English. Here it is.

The Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change

Signatories to the Declaration
Parties and Organizations:
Democratic National Grouping in Syria
Kurdish Democratic Alliance in Syria
Committees for the Revival of Civil Society
Kurdish Democratic Front in Syria
Future Party (Shaykh Nawwaf al-Bashir)

National Figures:
Riyad Sayf
Jawdat Sa'id
Dr Abd-al-Razzaq Id
Samir al-Nashar
Dr Fida Akram al-Hurani
Dr Adil Zakkar
Abd-al-Karim al-Dahhak
Haytham al-Malih
Nayif Qaysiyah

Syria today is being subjected to pressure it had not experienced before, as a result of the policies pursued by the regime, policies that have brought the country to a situation that calls for concern for its national safety and the fate of its people. Today Syria stands at a crossroad and needs to engage in self-appraisal and benefit from its historical experience more than any time in the past.
The authorities' monopoly of everything for more than 30 years has established an authoritarian, totalitarian, and cliquish [fi'awi] regime that has led to a lack of [interest in] politics in society, with people losing interest in public affairs. That has brought upon the country such destruction as that represented by the rending of the national social fabric of the Syrian people, an economic collapse that poses a threat to the country, and exacerbating crises of every kind, in addition to the stifling isolation which the regime has brought upon the country as a result of its destructive, adventurous, and short-sighted policies on the Arab and regional levels, and especially in Lebanon. Those policies were founded on discretionary bases and were not guided by the higher national interests.
All that -- and many other matters -- calls for mobilizing all the energies of Syria, the homeland and the people, in a rescue task of change that lifts the country out of the mold of the security state and takes it to the mold of the political state, so that it will be able to enhance its independence and unity, and so that its people will be able to hold the reins of their country and participate freely in running its affairs. The transformations needed affect the various aspects of life, and include the State, the authorities, and society, and lead to changing Syrian policies at home and abroad.

In view of the signatories' feeling that the present moment calls for a courageous and responsible national stand, that takes the country out of its condition of weakness and waiting that is poisoning the present political life, and spares it the dangers that loom in the horizon, and in view of their belief that a clear and cohesive line on which society's various forces agree, a line that projects the goals of democratic change at this stage, acquires special importance in the achievement of such change by the Syrian people and in accordance with their will and interests, and helps to avoid opportunism and extremism in public action, they have reached an accord on the following bases:

Establishment of a democratic national regime is the basic approach to the plan for change and political reform. It must be peaceful, gradual, founded on accord, and based on dialogue and recognition of the other.

Shunning totalitarian thought and severing all plans for exclusion, custodianship, and extirpation under any pretext, be it historical or realistic; shunning violence in exercising political action; and seeking to prevent and avoid violence in any form and by any side.

Islam -- which is the religion and ideology of the majority, with its lofty intentions, higher values, and tolerant canon law -- is the more prominent cultural component in the life of the nation and the people. Our Arab civilization has been formed within the framework of its ideas, values, and ethics and in interaction with the other national historic cultures in our society, through moderation, tolerance, and mutual interaction, free of fanaticism, violence, and exclusion, while having great concern for the respect of the beliefs, culture, and special characteristics of others, whatever their religious, confessional, and intellectual affiliations, and openness to new and contemporary cultures.

No party or trend has the right to claim an exceptional role. No one has the right to shun the other, persecute him, and usurp his right to existence, free expression, and participation in the homeland.

Adoption of democracy as a modern system that has universal values and bases, based on the principles of liberty, sovereignty of the people, a State of institutions, and the transfer of power through free and periodic elections that enable the people to hold those in power accountable and change them.

Build a modern State, whose political system is based on a new social contract, which leads to a modern democratic Constitution that makes citizenship the criterion of affiliation, and adopts pluralism, the peaceful transfer of power, and the rule of law in a State all of whose citizens enjoy the same rights and have the same duties, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sect, or clan, and prevents the return of tyranny in new forms.

Turn to all the components of the Syrian people, all their intellectual trends and social classes, political parties, and cultural, economic, and social activities, and give them the opportunity to express their views, interests, and aspirations, and enable them to participate freely in the process of change.

Guarantee the freedom of individuals, groups, and national minorities to express themselves, and safeguard their role and cultural and linguistic rights, with the State respecting and caring for those rights, within the framework of the Constitution and under the law.

Find a just democratic solution to the Kurdish issue in Syria, in a manner that guarantees the complete equality of Syrian Kurdish citizens with the other citizens, with regard to nationality rights, culture, learning the national language, and the other constitutional, political, social, and legal rights on the basis of the unity of the Syrian land and people. Nationality and citizenship rights must be restored to those who have been deprived of them, and the file must be completely settled.
Commitment to the safety, security, and unity of the Syrian national [? union] and addressing its problems through dialogue, and safeguard the unity of the homeland and the people in all circumstances, commitment to the liberation of the occupied territories and regaining the Golan Heights for the homeland, and enabling Syria to carry out an effective and positive Arab and regional role.

Abolish all forms of exclusion in public life, by suspending the emergency law; and abolish martial law and extraordinary courts, and all relevant laws, including Law 49 for the year 1980; release all political prisoners; [allow] the safe and honorable return of all those wanted and those who have been voluntarily or involuntarily exiled with legal guarantees; and ending all forms of political persecution, by settling grievances and turning a new leaf in the history of the country.

Strengthen the national army and maintain its professional spirit, and keep it outside the framework of political conflict and the democratic game, and confine its task to protecting the country's independence, safeguarding the constitutional system, and defending the homeland and the people.

Liberate popular organizations, federations, trade unions, and chambers of commerce, industry, and agriculture from the custodianship of the State and from party and security hegemony. Provide them with the conditions of free action as civil society organizations.

Launch public freedoms, organize political life through a modern party law, and organize the media and elections in accordance with modern laws that ensure liberty, justice, and equal opportunities for everyone.

Guarantee the right of political work to all components of the Syrian people in their various religious, national, and social affiliations.

Emphasize Syria's affiliation to the Arab Order, establish the widest relations of cooperation with the Arab Order, and strengthen strategic, political, and economic ties that lead the [Arab] nation to the path of unity. Correct the relationship with Lebanon, so that it will be based on liberty, equality, sovereignty, and the common interests of the two peoples and countries.

Observe all international treaties and conventions and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and seek within the framework of the United Nations and in cooperation with the international community to build a more just World Order, based on the principles of peace and mutual interest, warding off aggression, and the right of nations to resist occupation, and to oppose all forms of terrorism and violence directed against civilians.

The signatories to this declaration believe the process of change has begun, in view of its being a necessity that brooks no postponement because the country needs it. It is not directed against anyone, but requires everyone's efforts. Here we call on the Ba'thist citizens of our homeland and citizens from various political, cultural, religious, and confessional groups to participate with us and not to hesitate or be apprehensive, because the desired change is in everyone's interest and is feared only by those involved in crimes and corruption. The process of change can be organized as follows:

1. Opening the channels for a comprehensive and equitable national dialogue among all the components and social, political, and economic groups of the Syrian people in all areas and on the following premises:

The need for radical change in the country, and the rejection of all forms of cosmetic, partial, or circumspection reform.

Seek to stop the deterioration and the potential collapse and anarchy which could be brought upon the country by a mentality of fanaticism, revenge, extremism, and objection to democratic change.

Rejection of the change that is brought from abroad, while we are fully aware of the fact and the objectivity of the link between the internal and the external in the various political developments that are taking place in our contemporary world, without pushing the country toward isolation, adventure, and irresponsible stands, and anxiousness to safeguard the country's independence and territorial integrity.

2. Encourage initiatives for the return of society to politics, restore to the people their interest in public affairs, and activate civil society.

3. Form various committees, salons, forums, and bodies locally and throughout the country to organize the general cultural, social, political, and economic activity and to help it in playing an important role in advancing the national consciousness, giving vent to frustrations, and uniting the people behind the goals of change.

4. A comprehensive national accord on a common and independent program of the opposition forces, which charts the steps of the stage of transformation and the features of the democratic Syria of the future.

5. Pave the way for convening a national conference in which all the forces that aspire to change may participate, including those who accept that from among the regime, to establish a democratic national regime based on the accords mentioned in this declaration, and on the basis of a broad and democratic national coalition.

6. Call for the election of a Constituent Assembly that draws up a new Constitution for the country that foils adventurers and extremists, and that guarantees the separation of powers, safeguards the independence of the judiciary, and achieves national integration by consolidating the principle of citizenship.

7. Hold free and honest parliamentary elections that produce a fully legitimate national regime that governs the country in accordance with the Constitution and the laws that are in force, and on the basis of the view of the political majority and its program.

These are broad steps for the plan for democratic change, as we see it, which Syria needs, and to which its people aspire. It is open to the participation of all the national forces: political parties, civilian and civil bodies, and political, cultural, and professional figures. The plan accepts their commitments and contribution, and is open to review through the increase in the collectivity of political work and its effective societal forces.

We pledge to work to end the stage of despotism. We declare our readiness to offer the necessary sacrifices for that purpose, and to do all what is necessary to enable the process of democratic change to take off, and to build a modern Syria, a free homeland for all of its citizens, safeguard the freedom of its people, and protect national independence.
Damascus, 16 October 2005.


At 11/01/2005 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

“We pledge to work to end the stage of despotism. We declare our readiness to offer the necessary sacrifices for that purpose, and to do all what is necessary to enable the process of democratic change to take off, and to build a modern Syria, a free homeland for all of its citizens, safeguard the freedom of its people, and protect national independence” [sic/sick]

Yeah sure dude! ... Our “courageous” democrats of the eleventh-hour might as well add the following paragraph to their solemn declaration:
We pledge to work tirelessly to annihilate all secular institutions in Syria and establish integral Sharia Law and full-fledged diplomatic ties with our beloved state of Israel. We declare our readiness to emulate General Quisling and Marshall Petain in collaborating wholeheartedly with US and Israeli “freedom loving” occupation troops, and build a more compassionate, more modern Syria where women, Christians, Alawites and other second-class citizen finally discover the subtle beauty of Koranic Law imposed at gunpoint by fundamentalism-friendly American infidels!

Just like Mel Gibson in Mad Max, judge Mehlis is riding his supercharged V8 Ford XB Falcon police car in hot pursuit of “Baathist dead-enders” and other leftovers of the pseudo-romantic “Pan-Arab military-industrial complex” -remember: these guys have big moustaches and like to spend their holidays in Niger where they regularly go on yellow cake cum centrifuges shopping sprees…

See link below for more “reliable info” received from our friends at the Saudi embassy in TeX-Aviv:

Finally, I’d like to conclude on a more personal note: Sheikh Rafiq Hariri we love(d) you… you’re the best moustached millionaire martyr I’ve ever had the honor and privilege to serve, Sir… may Allah and Zeus keep you eternally under their wings up there in the skies… I know you’re up there, in Paradise because my Neocon/Wahhabi Imam told me so during his latest “freedom-loving” sermon in the great liberal kingdom of Saudistan… blablabla…

Eternally Yours in Liberty,

Dr Victorino de la Vega
Chair of the Thomas More Center for Middle East Studies

At 11/01/2005 12:11:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

I there any christian or Alawat or armenian or sharkas or druz between these signaturies

At 11/01/2005 12:21:00 PM, Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

This looks like an unholy alliance of Kurdish autonomists, Marxist clowns and Islamic fundamentalist fascists…sounds familiar??

At 11/01/2005 01:09:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

"Religion is an important institution. A nation without religion cannot survive. Yet, it is also very important to note that religion is a link between Allah and the individual believer. The brokerage of the pious cannot be permitted. Those who use religion for their own benefit are detestable. We are against such a situation and will not allow it. Those who use religion in such a manner have fooled our people; it is against such people that we have fought and will continue to fight".

Dear Mr. Landis:

One wishes the Damascus Declaration inserted this quote into their declaration. Syria will not be able to convince niether its citizens nor the world that it is ready for a post Baath-Assad chapter in its history unless it unequivically commits to a constitution that guarantees the seperation of Mosque and state. Unless the spectre of the potentially heavy influence of Fundementalist Islam is not constitutionalized, Syria will not be allowed to enjoy the enormous upside potential it deserves after 40 wasted years of Baath leadership.

Syria post Bashar and the Baath is in desperate need of a modern Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who is quoted above.

Mr Landis, I believe that it is time for your blog and most of your articulate and passionate readers and commentatos to stop wasting time on whether the Baath and Assad will or will not make it. The fact is that this regime is on the wrong side of history. It is high time for the citizens of this potentially great nation to think about life post Assad and Baath. It is time to think how this destroyed economy can regain its strength to compete in an unforgiving global economy. The country's energy resources are dwindling fast. Over the next 20 years, experts believe that the country will not have enough to export any further. Sir, by that time, Syria's population will be close to 34 million people. Where are the jobs going to come from? Where is the water going to come from?

Throughout our early education years, Syrians like myself were taught that it was the Ottomans who were mostly to blame for our ills during their 400 year rule. Yet, it was from that destroyed empire that a man like Kemal Ataturk was able to transform that backward nation into the modern Turkey that is on the cusp of entering the European Union by 2015. He is is proof that it can be done. What Syria needs is a legally secular and democratic constitution and an Ataturk type of personality that will act as a commander in chief and protector of the constitution.

Perhaps you can start advertising the need for such a personality on your populat website rather than continue discussing our shameful and embarassing state of affairs. The Entire Baath party, the whole Assad clan are a disgrace to this great nation.


At 11/01/2005 03:13:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/01/2005 03:14:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 11/01/2005 03:16:00 PM, Blogger adonis syria said...

syria is for all syrians ,not a property of asad'house.Yes moslems,christians,kurds,alawites,atheists are all well represented in the parties and organizations cited above. The only loser of this national alliance is asad's mafia.

At 11/01/2005 03:42:00 PM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

EHSANI2 said it all in an articulate and polite way for you, the Landice's and Baathist supporters, but most importantly, this point in time is to you, the Western person that are reading this comment section.

He is new at this, he is calm and full of patience. I been doing this since 82', so by now, seen it all, heard it all, Therefore, I lost all the respect and patience for and with those that don't see it as IHSANI2 sees it.

This Declaration is an exercise in futility and desperation. Because, there can’t be a Democratic change in Baathist Syria. Absolute dictators, just don’t vacate and walk away from Crime Conglomerates just that easy, by hearing citizens declaration.

The Syrian people are in absolute fear, they will not respond to calls to the streets. It did not happen even in Iraq’s Saddam, not even after the U.S. Tanks were way into Baghdad. The people are beaten and will be scared to be slaughtered Hama style.

Even if the U.S. were to announce that it will back up the Syrian People, which is never expected. They will not trust that either, as we have seen in Baghdad before of the war started.

No one is going to help the Syrians except they help themselves. And since the one on the inside are rendered worthless, relegated to making these silly and equally worthless declarations. The Syrians on the outside must take the lead.

Few realistic options are available and can work effectively, with or without American support, anyone interested can contact me.

Metaz K.M. Aldendeshe
Syrian Republican Party

At 11/01/2005 03:58:00 PM, Blogger Nafdik said...

Thanks Dr Victorino de la Vega for your hilarious and thoughtful comment :)

Ihsani I agree with your spirit, but rather surprised that you are looking for an Ataturk, are we uable to do things without a personality cult and an army to make us swallow modernity?

Why not a model like the US consitution where a band of representative created a framework that represents the will of the poeple.

At 11/01/2005 07:08:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

Mr. Aldendeshe,

You indeed have been doing this longer than me. I had just started expressing my personal opinion for the first time merely two months ago. I guess I owe Mr. Landis for providing us this forum. I don't blame you for losing your patience. Every Syrian must feel the urgency and gravity of the country's predicement. We cannot blame people inside for not acting. The internal security systems are both incredibly efficient and brutal. The vast majority have been indoctrinated by the Baath party for so long that one senses that they are in a coma like denial and deep sleep.


Syria has been struck with this cancer since the 1960's. All talk about reforms, Bashar needs to change, Bashar is good person but people around him are the problem, Dardari is our saviour, Foreign investors are coming, Syria will grow at 7%, Patrick Seale opining, Damascus declaration is a great start are ALL tanamount to giving the cancer patient one Advil a day.

Mr. Landis, rather than posting a daily dose of Advil to your readers as the cure, please note the following :

Barring the immediate abolition of the Baath party and its entire apparatus, all other attempts to get Syria on the right track are doomed to fail. The current Syrian constitution states that The Baath party is the sole ruler of the country. There is no way forward for this nation, therefore, until this constitution is revised, amended or prefrebbaly re-written.

Nafdik poses the excellent question of why do we need a Syrian Ataturk, and why can't we use a US type constituion model.

In my opinion, establishing secularism in a country like Syria is not going to be easy. Ataturk himself had to fight the religious establishment for years before he was able to get his way. He was the commander of the army and a cult who had to use force before he established his dream. Syria must not fall victim to the concept of the majority will and if that majority wants Islam and Sharia as the rule of the land then so be it. But the fight is not going to be easy. Once the internal security systems are destoryed with the collapse of the Baathm the army as an institution will have to take the responsibilty of protecting the new constitution as well as provide law and order.

At 11/01/2005 09:45:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

For all the people who want to desolve the Baath party just see what happend in Iraq when they desolved the Baath party and the army,i do not think we want that to happen in Syria,second ,in the Baath party there are sunny muslems alawat kurds christians and all kinds of Syrians,the way to transfere Syria to modern country is permit platform based parties with ideas not personalities or cults for the people to chose from,that will be supported by 1- free press real free resposible acurate with a mision for reporting the facts supported by evidence and refferences,2-legal system where everybody is equal,the above could be done simmeler to the system in the united states,the US is close to Syria in many ways many ethnic groups many religios affiliations,catholics many kinds of protastants jewish ,muslems many races white, blacks ,oriantals, everybody is equal under the law the races might not like each other but protected by law,and for all these people who think that syria should have islamic laws muslems are more free in the US than in any other country and i know that everybody in the middle east wish to come and live in the US that says alot about the system of govrment and legal and economic system that is present in this country so Syria can bring these systems to Syria to do that Syria and it,s goverment needs help from the US not beating or attacks and humeliation that is if the US realy cares about the Syrian people and for Syrians outside the counry especialy in the US should communicate their thoughts on this site and others like it on how to improve Syria without bloodshed,we all have families in Syria and care about them violence will engolf everybody from all religions and what we want is to improve Syria not destroy it ,at least i hope that what we all want ,one more thing syria needs to move queqly on reform ,i do not know why they are so paralysed many of the reforms where approved in june but the people are still waiting that should change immedietly if Syria to move forward.i hope what i wrote will find a caring goverment official in Syria and the US God bless both conuntries and their people and enlight their goverments.

At 11/02/2005 01:50:00 AM, Blogger laleiche said...

The declaration is a step forward, and it definitely deserves all the support. The name, the religion, the gender, etc… of the signatories don’t really matter as much as the content.

As for who should lead the march to change, it is doubtful that anyone other than those who are on the "inside" can ever have the credibility or the trust of the mass.

At 11/02/2005 02:30:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Oh really, Why have they not done that for the past 43 years? Is that because most of them were partners with the Lower classes of Syria's Sunni Baathshits, calling for Iktaia to be destroyed at the start of it all.

Should we wait another 43 years for commis, Socialists, Arab Nationalists and Nasserites to make it happen.

Kiss my ass. You aint got a fucking chance without the experience and brains of Syrian on the outside. Why don't you get out of the Bayanat and Takarir business, leave the brain work for those that have brains and do Syria a favor by hording some amo and few people that know how to use it first. There is one thing Bashar, Maher and Asef can use your Decleration for, WIPE THIER ASS.

At 11/02/2005 02:37:00 AM, Blogger Syrian Republican Party said...

Who giva a fuck about the trust of the Syrian mass. They are nothing more than a mass of dried up shit. Are you saying that for 43 years the fuckers gave that trust to the Baath party and Assad's!

Get real will ya.

Metaz K.M.Aldendeshe
Syrian Republican Party

At 11/02/2005 02:42:00 AM, Blogger LebaneseGeeks.com said...

laleiche is high on hashishe.


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