Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all and thank you for attending today's event.
My name is Marah Bukai, founder of Al Waref Institute - a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing dialogue and cross-cultural understanding between the West and the Middle East and North Africa, and promoting the achievements of writers, scholars, activists, and all who support democracy, freedom, and justice.
We are very grateful to have this event co-sponsored by the prestigious Hudson Institute.
I would also like to welcome and thank our distinguished speakers for participating in today's event, and Mr.Fradkin for moderating the panel.
Since Peaceful Syrian protesters took the streets in March 2011 chanting for freedom and dignity, the security forces of Bashar Assad have killed at least 26,283 people, among them 18,695 of innocent civilians. These numbers are the August statistics of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which has a network of activists on the ground across Syria. The numbers of martyrs in Syria continue to rise daily as people continue with their struggle for freedom.
According to a February 2012 United Nations report, Syrian government forces have repeatedly attacked civilians, launching artillery into densely populated neighborhoods, deploying snipers, helicopter and airplane fighters against civilians, and torturing and killing hospitalized protesters.
Despites the international community’s efforts to bring an end to violence in Syria through peaceful measures like sanctions and peace plans, these actions have failed to stop the killing.
Moreover, the Syrian government has flouted the UN and Arab League ceasefire agreement and attacked civilians in the presence of UN monitors.
These actions constitute crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court .
Only In Syria, it happens that Every 15 minutes pass without action, another civilian loses his life by the regime's atrocity.
The international community does not have the luxury to lose more time in political battles while people are falling every day. Ending the killings in Syria is a moral and legal obligation that cannot be ignored.
As the UN mission in Syria has come to a suspension due escalation of violence, we call on the international community and the president of the United States to use the UN Responsibility to Protect mandate to end the state terrorism enforced by the Syrian regime.
The Responsibility to Protect mandate or the R2P of the United Nations allows the organization to use all necessary forces and measures as no-fly zones, peacekeeping operations, buffer and humanitarian zones, to protect civilians and end systematic killing in a country when the state fails to protect the lives of citizens.
The Syrian regime’s campaign of destruction and killings of civilians has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Syrian defenseless people and committed an endless numbers of massacres.
Today, Al Waref Institute for Humanitarian Studies is releasing the R2P doctrine legal memorandum prepared by the Public International Law & Policy Group.
The Memorandum evaluates the case for humanitarian intervention in Syria under the R2P doctrine and applicable international law.
Under R2P, state sovereignty is not absolute. A state forfeits sovereignty when it fails to protect its citizens from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, or crimes against humanity. Syria has breached its R2P duty by repeatedly attacking unarmed civilians with indiscriminate force.
Accordingly, the responsibility to protect Syria’s civilian population now shifts to the international community.
Under the R2Pdoctrine, a coalition of states or a regional organization could legitimately intervene in Syria with or without Security Council authorization.
An intervention in Syria is perhaps the international community’s best hope for preventing a greater humanitarian catastrophe.
As such, humanitarian intervention in Syria would be consistent with international law and with the UN Charter.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Syrian women and children are looking up to the world for assistance and protection. Therefore, We Syrian- Americans call on Mr. President, Barak Obama, and all leaders of the free world to act immediately and decisively in order to protect and save lives of the brave Syrians.
However, the people of Syria made their decision… and for them, the only way is forward. They march, with their heads held up high, so they can live with heads held up high. And, as a Syrian America, I am looking to see my country of choice the great United States of America in full support of justice for my country of birth, childhood and memories, my beloved Syria.