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Amid Mounting Deaths, Syrian Civil Society Activists Push for Peaceful Change

Syrian security forces carry a body from the site of a car bomb in Damascus. Photo: AP
Syrian security forces carry a body from the site of a car bomb in Damascus. Photo: AP

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Appalled by the estimated 70,000 deaths during the two-year anti-regime uprising in their country, Syrian activists and civil society organizations have been drawing world attention to the bloodshed in an effort to minimize the violence and work for peaceful change.

“The main objective of the Syrian civil society centers and organizations is to correct the direction of the uprising and condemn violence,” said Mesud Perik, a Kurdish activist and member of the Syrian Centre for Civil Society and Democracy.

Because they are independent, these organizations are “the only guarantee” that values will prevail over violence in Syria, he believes.

“We condemn violence because of its dangerous consequences for Syrian society, and we will continue supporting peaceful resistance,” Perik added.

Kurdish activists and civil organizations have been particularly active in trying for peaceful change in Syria.

Alongside the violence in the fighting between forces of President Bashar Assad and a divided opposition sometimes weakened by infighting, young Kurdish activists have been keeping alive their peaceful efforts for democratic change in Syria.

Cooperation and friendly competition among these peaceful opponents motivates them to “serve the legitimate rights of the Syrian people with a high degree of responsibility,” Perik told Rudaw. 

Hussein Omar, a Kurdish lawyer and member of the Horizons Development Center for Civil Society, said that his organization aims to support the Syrian youth and women’s rights.

“Our main focus now is to maintain the unity of Syrian society, because the threat of division has grown more serious after two years of conflict,” he told Rudaw.

“Civil society organizations bear the responsibility of removing the effects of more than four decades of dictatorship on the Syrian people and the horrible outcomes of the ongoing war,” he added.

Piroz Perik, another Kurdish member of the Syrian Centre for Civil Society and Democracy, believes that real change in Syria cannot be achieved without developing the capacities and understanding of the Syrian people regarding transitional justice and peace.

“We have launched multiple campaigns concerned with the rehabilitation of Syrian citizens,” he said.

According to Piroz, there are some worries of a potential future clash between civil rights and armed groups in Syria.

“We want to prevent the occurrence of a large-scale civil war in Syria,” Piroz said.

“The contradiction between civil rights and the mentality of the armed groups could be a serious challenge, even in a post-Assad Syria,” he warned. 

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