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The announcement of a 22 January 2014 date for the Geneva II talks on the future of Syria is a ray of hope in the darkness that came immediately after an Open Doors Pray for Syria event in Oxford – and gave added impetus to our Save Syria campaign.
Already nearly 300,000 people from more than 70 countries have signed an international petition urging all those with influence and power to do everything possible to protect the lives, livelihoods and freedoms of all the people of Syria and in particular safeguard the future of the Christian communities.
By Tuesday 10 December—International Human Rights Day—they signatories so far will be presented simultaneously in New York to the UN missions of the five permanent members of the Security Council and to many of their embassies across the world. In the UK a request has gone in to present it to David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.
The campaign has been designed to ensure that the voices of Christians in Syria, particularly vulnerable and targeted in this terrible catastrophe, are heard. It’s all about turning up the volume. Each signature on the Save Syria petition has been a voice added to the global chorus of support for Christians in Syria.
In August we were anticipating US air strikes on Syria. Now we have a date for talks in Geneva. When a Christian mother in Damascus asks ‘Why does no-one care that Christians are dying?’ we can tell her there are those who care.”
Following the recent massacre in Sadad, Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh issued a challenge to Christians around the world saying: “We have shouted out to the world, but no-one has listened to us. Where is the Christian conscience? Where is human consciousness? Where are my brothers?"
A mother in Damascus said: “Christian people are being attacked, whole Christian villages are being purged. Why does the church in the west shut up? The government doesn’t protect us. Why does no-one care that Christians are dying?”
The petition will remain open for people to sign and stand in solidarity with the church in Syria. The situation there is, sadly, going to require more work over many years to come so we shall continue ensuring the Syrian church has a voice, and we will raise the petition at every meeting we have with officials – in particular, we will be working on ensuring the Christians have a voice at the Geneva II peace talks in January. So signing the petition is still a very valid action to take.
* Sign the petition here: https://www.savesyriacampaign.org
* Ekklesia briefing: Human rights 65 years after the Universal Declaration: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/19635
© Stephen Rand is Advocacy Director for Open Doors UK and Ireland.Tweet