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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