Kucinich Calls for Open, Free and Fair Elections in Syria; Renews Call for an End to Violence
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a proponent of diplomacy and peaceful resolution to conflict, wrote to the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, calling for an end to the violent crackdown in Syria and for open, free and fair elections.
The full text of the letter follows:
Dear President Assad:
The democratic aspirations of the people of Syria cannot and should not be denied. While it is well established that armed insurgents have been working to foment a civil war in Syria, the impact of which further threatens the peace and stability of the region, it is also well established that the crackdown by regime security forces has killed thousands of innocent people. In the continuing interest of ending the violence and moving decisively toward reform, I make the following recommendation.
The time has come for you to call for open, free and fair elections in Syria. If you lead the way in this call, it will be a clear sign that you choose to rely on the Syrian people for support and legitimacy. It will also temper those elements in the security forces who feel that they are beyond the reach of democratic reforms.
Your call for free and fair elections in Syria must be accompanied by independent, international mediation which is needed to put out the fires of civil war. In addition, dialogue with opposition parties must be attempted in an effort to quell the current violence. Dialogue was a principal element of the Arab League peace plan and will be critical to advance any democratic transition.
Syria has become increasingly isolated. It needs to reach out to those in the international community who wish to see an end to the violence and the beginning of self-determination for the Syrian people. You can open the door by assuring the Syrian people and the international community of your intention to move toward democratic reforms, beginning with elections.
These steps are, at a minimum, what the people of Syria and supporters of the Syrian people worldwide have a right to expect from a government which is prepared to protect human rights and willing to set the stage for democratic reforms.
As you know, the situation in Syria continues to be both urgent and dangerous. The United Nations estimates that over 3,500 civilians have been killed in protests since they began in March. One-hundred and forty people are reported to have been killed in the past week alone. Thousands more have been detained and arrested. In addition, between 11,000 – 25,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring countries due to threats or violence.
A recently released report by Amnesty International titled “Health Crisis: Syrian Government Targets the Wounded and Health Workers” documents torture and other ill-treatment of wounded patients in “at least four government run hospitals…including by medical workers.”
I have personally expressed to you on previous occasions my concern with violent repression of peaceful protests which have been well-documented by human rights organizations. The violence waged by regime security forces is totally incompatible with your intent clearly expressed in our meetings. It is also inconsistent with the peace plan brokered by the Arab League that your government accepted on November 2. Escalation of violence against the Syrian people is self-defeating and will not quell their democratic aspirations or bring about stability.
In addition to urging you to call for free and fair elections, I once again request that your government to do its part to stop the violence and to allow independent human rights groups and the international media to enter Syria with unfettered access to all regions of the country.
It is still possible for Syria to achieve a new, democratic era. Much depends upon your willingness to break free of past structures which are no longer sufficient to maintain peace and stability in Syria. For the sake of Syria, and the world, I am hopeful that you will find the strength to move forward.
Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress