As violence rises in Ukraine, it continues in Syria. Lilly Martin, an American married to a Syrian, sent this report from Lakatia, where she has lived for the last twenty years:
Peace Pilgrimage Syria, April 2014
Peace activists visited Lakatia, Syria on April 11, 2014. The group was comprised of about 60 people from many nations, including: USA, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Germany, Canada, Tunisia, Iran and Pakistan. Among the notable guests were Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland, Mother Superior Agnes of St. James the Mutilated Church, and Kawthar Al Bashrawi a Tunisian media personality.[tag]www.flickr.com/photos/43398414@N04/13980042431/: Foreign Fighters in Syria: A Threat at Home and Abroad?" width="300">
My son Steven and I visited the group and sat with Mother Superior Agnes Mariam, Mairead Maguire, Ann Patterson, Rick Sterling, Eva Bartlett and others whose names I haven't yet learned. The Peace Pilgrims wanted to hear our eye witness accounts of events in Syria and particularly of Latakia, where we live. They had so many questions for us. They wanted to know the truth, and also to understand the reasons why Syria has been in crisis since March 2011. Mairead Maguire and Ann Patterson are connected with www.peacepeople.com
The Peace Pilgrimage began in Iran where Mairead Maguire and Mother Superior Agnes Mariam met with government officials and also people seeking peace in Syria. They traveled to Syria along with Iranian members of the pilgrimage and met up with internationals who arrived in Damascus on April 11, 2014. The full group then met with people in Damascus. One of the American members is a peace activist in Gaza, Palestine. Eva Bartlett wrote about their time in Damascus and has photos as well on her website: http://ingaza.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/conversations-in-syria/
The full group traveled from Damascus to Latakia on April 11, 2014. They arrived in Latakia about 4 PM and attended a welcoming ceremony with the Mayor of Latakia, then went to visit Armenian refugees sheltering from the invasion and occupation of their homes in Kassab, Syria (also spelled as Kessab). They visited with refugees from Haram, Syria which is near Idlib. All of these various refugees are sheltering in Latakia. The next morning, April 12, 2014 my son Steven Sahiounie and I met with the group at 7:30 am at the Latakia Tourist Hotel, where the group was staying. Over coffee and tea we all discussed the events in Syria beginning in March 2011 and coming forward to present. The activists wanted to understand what had happened and the reasons and motivations behind the Syrian crisis.
I gave three video interviews, two to Americans, and one to a German. One of the Americans was Rick Sterling of www.syriasolidaritymovement.org My explanations were basically this: that Syria was neither in Civil War, nor sectarian war. The crisis which began in March 2011 in Deraa, Syria was not a popular uprising or a revolution. It was a foreign funded and foreign planned attack on the Syrian government and the innocent civilian population, for the express purpose of regime change. I found that my explanation was already known to the Peace Pilgrims. They were not surprised to hear my eye witness accounts and observations. The German woman was Ulrike Reinhard, www.ulrikereinhard.com
The time was too short, as is always the case when travel is involved. It always seems there are too many places to see and too little time when you are 'on the road'. The buses were ready to leave, bags were packed and ready to load. I had to say goodbye to my new 'friends of Syria'. At the very last moment, Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire asked me: "What do you see as the solution for Syria, and who do you want to hear this message?" I told her this: the solution to the crisis in Syria will come when the United States of America makes a public political decision to stop aiding and supporting terrorism, and specifically the Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates who are killing Syrians daily. I want President Barak Obama to hear my message, and the message of the Peace Pilgrimage to Syria, April 2014.
Lilly Martin, Latakia, April 2014