Saturday, January 30, 2016

Why organise International Tours of Peace to Syria?

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, active groups, who oppose the violence in Syria, started to organise solidarity visits to the country. There are many reasons for organising such visits but the number one reasons was to send a message of solidarity to Syrians and their legitimate government.

These tours also enable activists, media representatives and intellectuals to find out what is really happening in Syria first hand and not through the mainstream media fabrications.

I had the honour to participate in one of these visits in late 2013. It was a great experience that gave me a lot of ideas and information about the situation and the needs of the Syrians who chose to stay in the country.

Up until now mostly the same groups and same people visit Syria. This is mainly due to connections to that country. We wanted to do more.

We wanted our tours to be “Responsible Tourism”. This is when we decided to start our International Tours of Peace to Syria where:

• Anyone can participate.
• Each participant will finance his/her stay in Syria. This will generate greater economic benefits for the local people.
• The tour will provide more enjoyable experiences for the participants through more meaningful connections with local people, and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues
• Visits will become more frequent allowing more people from diverse background to participate. This will have greater impact and generate better media coverage.

In our first International Peace Tour to Syria all participants (except one) were first time travellers to Syria.

Every participant paid their own way and enjoyed the Syrian hospitality. So much that a few have already booked for the next tour and others have expressed their desire to go back again as soon as their finances will allow them.

Our tour got good coverage on Facebook and mainstream media in different countries including Syria, Norway and Australia.

The first tour has allowed us to come up with more ideas, including our project of sending volunteers to Syria. We will announce the details soon.

The management for this project is very flexible always consulting with others on almost every aspect of the organisation. Openness and transparency are the keys to achieve our goals. It is for this reason that all the participants were very happy with our tour, even if it was our “test run” tour.

The participants had minimal interference by Syrian authorities while exploring the reality of the situation. Participants moved freely among the market stalls, talked freely with ordinary Syrians and freely took photos/videos everywhere they went. We changed our itinerary several times and were able to accommodate the wishes of the participants.

We expect the 2nd tour to be even better!
We promise many unbelievable surprises. What surprises? Come and find out! or

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Open letter to ABC: I do not want my share of commonwealth to be wasted on brainwashing and recruiting terrorists

Your report today at 12 midday news is no more than a propaganda piece to help Al Qaeda terrorists. I have watched the report with much disgust and disbelieve.
1- You did not mention why the Syrian army and Hezbullah fighters are blockading the town of Madaya. You did not tell the viewers that Madya is controlled by terrorists of Ahrar Al sham, an organisation affiliated with Al Qaeda terrorist organisation.
2- You mentioned that there were 28 deaths because of hunger, without giving viewers one name of these victims. It cannot be believed that whoever counted the numbers of dead people does not have one name of a victim, unless the whole issue is mere lie.
3- You showed for more than 2 minutes the suffering of Madaya, but failed to show the suffering of Fouaa and Kafraya, currently besieged by terrorists in the northern parts of Syria. We cannot believe that ABC is concerned about the lives s of terrorists (and their families), but has no concern about the lives of of totally innocent people in Kafrya, being besieged only because they are Shia.
4- ABC had showed comments from terrorists, supporters of terrorists and US representative in UN about what is happening in Madaya, but you failed to seek or quote any comment from the other side. Al Manar TV, for example, had produced professional and well-documented series that refute all lies by terrorists and their supporters that were circulated freely on your network for the last few days.
5- I can provide your network of well-documented reports that all previous aid sent to Madaya was stolen by terrorist leaders and were either given to terrorists or sold for people who can afford.
6- Your network did not mention that the whole talks about Madaya town are coincided with the current peace talks that will be held in Vienna about the crisis in that country. You failed to notice that the lies about what is happening in Madaya could be a propaganda tool to pressure the Syrian government and its supporters in these negotiations.
It is deeply disappointing that your network had come to aid well-known terrorist organisation. Can you tell us how many Australians will decide to go and fight in Syria to help terrorists after watching your continuous false reporting on this issue?
I do not want my share of commonwealth to be wasted on brainwashing and recruiting terrorists. And I will communicate my wish to Australian government.

Open letter to our PM: why is your government targeting peace missions to Syria?

Dear Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, PM of Australia

This is the second time I am writing to you to complain against unjustified actions of Australian authorities against me in regards to my activities in promoting peace in Syria.

First of all I would like to remind you that I was the first active member in our community to publicly condemn extremists’ actions in Australia (and elsewhere around the world including in Syria). I was the strongest anti-extremist voice in the community for the last 5 years. In doing this, I risked my life and the lives of my family members. I received countless death threats, verbal attacks and physical attacks on at least 3 occasions.

My long standing fight against extremism and violence that related to sectarian and religious division is well on record and cannot be disputed by anyone in this country.

Last October en route to lead a peace delegation in Syria, I was subjected to an unjustified humiliating treatment on the hands of our Border Force. To date, I have not received any logical explanation from your office or from the office of the minister for justice on how the ABF got the absurd idea that I was suspected of wanting to join terrorists groups in Syria.

This despite my countless appearances on the local media voicing my strong opposition to any kind of religious and sectarian violence and hate.

Last week, I was denied entry to Lebanon to attend an international conference on the Right of Return for Palestinian people. While I was not given any reason behind this denial of entry, I got a clear picture about the real reasons. During my communications with the Lebanese officials, I was told that the only reason behind the Lebanese authorities' decision was an official request from your government to deny me entry to that country.

I understand that your government is unhappy of our “International Peace Tours to Syria” project. Despite the fact that the project is no more than organising visit of foreign nationals to Syria to form a clearer picture of what is happening in that country.

I am aware of the risks that one can encounter in Syria, however the participants are adults and can make up their own mind at their own risk.
By doing this, they are not violating any law in any Western democracies.

This was very clear as none of them was questioned upon their return to their homelands. Australia was the only country that punished their nationals and residents who participated in the initiative.

I’m requesting with this letter to know the reason behind your governments bid to sabotage our initiative. Why is your government so angry and is so desperately trying to obstruct in every way our peace missions to Syria? We are going there to show solidarity to the Syrian people.

Would your continuous obstruction to our initiative be related to the fact that you have vowed to make the issue of Syria an issue of public interest? The kind of interest that would affect voting in the next elections?

Relating to your government’s actions against our group and initiatives, we are very close to declare our intension to run campaigns in the next election to cost your party some seats in some marginal areas. Our early discussions included marginal seats of Reid and Barton.

Meantime, we are working at many levels to abort your government’s bid to sabotage our project. We are working with both Syrian and Lebanese authorities to solve the problems of denying me entry to that country. But we hope that your government will realise its mistake in this regard.

I will contact the Lebanese authorities to correct the record by requesting them to remove the veto on my entry to Lebanon.

I would also like to mention my surprise to your government’s stance on Syria which recently has put you at odds with the rest of the world. Even the strongest opponents of the Syrian government have now changed their rhetoric.

During my last visit to Damascus, Syrian officials told me that representatives from many Western countries had met with them asking for their cooperation in the fight against terrorism. These talks will help these nations prevent imminent terrorist attacks in their homeland.

Other talks were more financial regarding the rebuilding of Syria. These countries want to secure building contracts. Such contracts could run into billions of dollars.

We hope that your government will put the interests of the Australian people ahead of your party’s interests.

Thank you and I really hope that common sense will prevail within your cabinet.

This letter was sent to PM on 18 December 2015... No response was received...

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