British churches call for non-violent global action on Syria

By staff writers
15 Mar 2012

Three of Britain's largest Christian Churches have urged the United Nations Security Council to condemn the Syrian regime's brutality and to seek a solution without violence.

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church today (15 March) urged the UN to “unequivocally condemn Syria's state-sanctioned attacks on its own people”. They said that the UN should demonstrate a united opposition to the Syrian regime.  

But they have not backed calls for western governments to send armed forces to Syria to remove the regime. Their position is an encouragement for those who insist that intervention in Syria does not have to be military intervention.

Since the start of mass protests one year ago, thousands of people are thought to have been killed in the uprising. China and Russia vetoed an attempt to pass a UN resolution condemning the repression.

The three churches condemned the regime's “violent and unrestrained attacks on its own citizens”. They called on China and Russia to recognise that “it is unjust for the Assad regime to continue to receive diplomatic and military support”.

They have published a prayer for any Christian to join in. The prayer asks that “Christians, Muslims and all people of faith in Syria unite to build peace and justice for all”.

Referring to the life of Jesus, it continues, “When you walked among us you rejected the way of the sword. May all parties in Syria realise the futility of violence, the right of peaceful protest and the need to protect civilian life in all circumstances.”

The three churches urged international support for an initiative led by UN Special Representative (and former Secretary-General) Kofi Annan.

“We are concerned that, should diplomatic initiatives fail and the opposition groups achieve success in securing support for arms, the violence could escalate still further,” said the churches in a joint statement.

They added, “Our prayers are for a halt to the bloodshed and for diplomacy and mediation to offer a way forward for the Syrian people.”

Turning to issues of humanitarian aid, they insist that “all armed groups must allow unrestricted access of humanitarian agencies to those areas where people are currently without food, healthcare or education”.

The situation of Christians in Syria has drawn particular attention in recent weeks. It is feared that some Syrian Christians could face hostility and brutality from both the Assad regime and Islamic fundamentalist groups.
 
“We are also concerned for the Syrian Christian churches and communities that represent a minority in the land,” explained today's statement. “With them we long for a nation in which all can live in security and peace under the law”.

The prayer for Syria can be found at http://methodist.org.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=opentogod.content&cmid=3611....

[Ekk/1]

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