EU “must do more” to Support Democracy in Syria

By: Ruth Marsden
The EU has been urged to condemn the Syrian regime and provide more support to the country’s citizens.

Kamal Al-Labwani, one of the most prominent members of the Syrian opposition movement, welcomed existing EU sanctions but said they did not go far enough. 

Speaking at a breakfast briefing organised by the European Foundation for Democracy on Wednesday, Al-Labwani warned that Syria is in need of a democratic government and improved human rights. “This is where the EU can help,” he said.

“What is happening in Syria is not a crisis, it is a revolution,” he added.

“It is a very important and promising revolution, capable of completely changing Syria and also affecting the world.”

Also founder of the Syrian Liberal Democratic Union, Al-Labwani has travelled to the US and throughout Europe in an attempt to raise support for the Syrian opposition, but was arrested on his return.

Charged with “communicating with a foreign country and inciting it to initiate aggression against Syria”, he was sentenced to 12 years hard labour in prison, and finally released in November 2011.

“When people demonstrate peacefully, they are killed,” he said, adding, “We are facing a ‘gang’ led by a president.

“The international community must let us have weapons to fight this regime. We feel alone, this is why we need to defend ourselves.”

Speaking about the Kofi Annan peace plan for Syria, the democracy campaigner said the initiative needs to include more protective measures.

“We’re the ones protecting the observers. They come to protect us and we end up protecting them,” he added.

The six-point plan, which was launched in February 2012, aims to resolve the Syrian conflict in the Middle East with an enforced ceasefire across the country.

However, the ceasefire ended following the May 2012 Houla massacre, as the Free Syrian Army began nation-wide offences against government troops, resuming ‘defensive operations’ after president Bashar al-Assad vowed to crush an anti-regime uprising.

Al-Labwani called for the UN to come to Syria as a peace keeper, saying, “We need soldiers to come and help or we will face further massacre.”

He went on to say that he feels “ashamed” for what has happened in his country, adding, “We must all do our duty and work together to learn lessons from the past.”

Al-Labwani said it was also important to put an end to interference from Russia and Iran, saying “don’t expect the regime to fall” while it is supported by those two countries.

He added, “We must build a revolution from the inside. We must recreate ourselves – peace, stability and justice.

“I’m for building a homeland, a state for the Syrian people. We need to stop the killings and rebuild security.”

Source: The Parliament 

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