Donna Nassor of US Peace Council on Criminal Sanctions Against Syria/ September 8, 2016

Transcript by Rawan Mahmasa

OK, my name is Donna Nassor, I have been a human rights and peace activist for as long as I can remember. I’m not going to tell you how many years because then you’ll know how old I am.

I am. I was honored to be asked to be part of this delegation.

And I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go and see for myself to sit face to face with the Syrian people. To share this time with this delegation so that we can all work together, coming back in cooperation to try to bring the message and the truth back to the United States as an American citizen. It is shameful for me to admit what my government is doing in the sovereign country of Syria.

We have no right to impose these illegal sanctions.

In fact, these sanctions allegedly, the government says, are against the the government of Syria. But in fact, it’s against the people, civil society, people who are attempting to maintain the infrastructure, the health care, the safety of all Syrian people.

One of the things that stood out to me is not only the lack of medication and the fact that Syrian children are dying because they can’t get chemotherapy meds into the country because of the illegal sanctions that the U.S. and the West has imposed.

Also, it’s they’re not allowing parts and materiel to get to businesses who are trying to maintain and they’re trying to maintain for more than one reason and not just to try to keep continue to make money, but to employ people, because when people have no way to earn a living, they become desperate.

And we know that some of the Syrian people who may have chosen to join the terrorists, mostly for economic reasons because they couldn’t earn a living and their benefactors, the U.S. and all the others who are collaborating together to fund this terrorism are paying people very well to to to participate in this illegal activity against the Syrian people.

So there are so many ways, subtle ways that the US sanctions are affecting the Syrians. And when we spoke to the business people, they mentioned to us, we’re desperately trying to stay in business. We’re desperately trying to keep our people employed so they don’t become desperate and they don’t then feel like they have no other choice.

Something else that’s very important is we did have the opportunity to speak with civil society, not just all of the organized official organizations. And we met with people who have witnessed and lived through and shared their experiences with the mercenaries and explained unspeakable things that I’m not going to go into detail about what those were.

But it was very difficult to sit in the presence of someone whose child was assassinated, whose whose niece was kidnapped and is still missing, whose daughter was raped, kidnapped, raped, and then sent back male and female rapes we heard about.

So this is what the U.S. is financing.

This is what the U.S. is backing and this is not OK. And as an American citizen, beyond being a peace and human rights activist, I will not be silent about what I learned.

And we have to take responsibility for what’s happening in this country and the lack of morality when it comes to our foreign policy and and what we are doing elsewhere.

I do want to say that, you know, we we did have almost a two hour meeting with President Assad, which we were all very grateful for.

He after listening to him, after listening to all the voices of civil society and the groups and the government officials that we met with, if you think about it, it makes no sense what the U.S. media and Western media is reporting.

It makes no sense that Assad, who is trying to maintain the infrastructure and look toward the future for the Syrian people, would be the one destroying hospitals and all these places that the U.S. media and the Western media are claiming that he is the one responsible for destroying just doesn’t make sense.

He is interested in the future for Syria. He told us flat out, you know, when this is over with, we can have another election that they don’t want me. They don’t want me. That’s fine. But for now, I am the I have I’ve been elected to to lead this country. And that is what I will do.

The last piece that I want to talk about is, you know, having been a student and scholar of restorative and transitional justice for many years, I was really very, very impressed and excited about the fact that they have a Ministry of Reconciliation that even in the middle of the trauma that the Syrian people are are involved in at this point, they are looking towards the future and they’re dealing with people in a restorative and healing way already.

So if someone has joined the if some Syrian citizen has joined the mercenaries, there are literally going they put down their arms.

They are welcomed back into into Syrian society. They’re fed and their families are fed and and restorative justice techniques are being used so that you don’t have a group of Syrians now who are feeling outside of society.

So everything that I’ve said, I will continue to say and I will continue to share with other people. And I feel now that since we have been there, we are now capable of sharing truth, that unfortunately our media has not been offering the world and we intend to not be silent from here forward.

And thank you all for listening. OK, the only thing I did want to say quickly is that I recommend that we there are two independent journalists on the ground in Damascus, Vanessa Beeley, and  Eva Bartlett

Eva’s, She is a Canadian. Vanessa is from the UK and they’re still there right now. And they’re writing they’re visiting locales and they’re reporting on the ground talking to people, collecting the voices of Syrians. And I recommend that you find them. They’re both on Facebook. And then you can look up the articles that they’ve written because they’ve been published.

Thank you.