2nd December 2015

Urgent: Birmingham MPs undecided on Syria

Update 03/12/2015:

Sadly, last night parliament voted in favour of air-strikes on Syria, and it is reported that these strikes have already begun.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain said: “Bombing is no solution. Quakers work faithfully for peace, not war, respecting the value of all human life and we deplore a decision which will lead to lives being lost.  Quakers call for a creative nonviolent response, respecting the humanity of all in the region. Bombing and continued arms sales only fuel the war and lead more people into the hands of extremists. Invest in peace, not war.”

Thank you to everyone who did contact their MP.  6 out of the 8 Birmingham MPs voted against strikes:

Gisela Stuart (Birmingham Edgbaston)

Richard Burden (Birmingham Northfield)
Liam Byrne (Birmingham Hodge Hill)
Jack Dromey (Birmingham Erdington)
Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green)
Steve McCabe (Birmingham Selly Oak)
Shabana Mahmood (Birmingham Ladywood)
Jess Phillips (Birmingham Yardley)

Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham Perry Barr)


Original article 02/12/2015:

This evening Parliament will vote on military action in Syria. Quakers in Britain oppose this, consistent with our belief that killing is wrong.

We understand that many of the Birmingham MPs are uncertain about how to vote on Syria this evening.  If you are able, please email your MP asap to let them know how you feel.

Quaker Peace & Social Witness have produced this guide to taking action – but at such short notice, the two most urgent actions are:

Write to your MP by email:

You could use the list of points below to write in your own words.  (And if you are a Quaker, send this statement from Quakers in Britain.)  Although an original letter is more effective, you can also use this tool from Stop the War Coalition.

Phrases to use

  • Terrorism is a deliberate attempt to provoke fear, hatred, division and a state of war. War – especially war with the West – is what ISIS/Daesh wants. It confirms the image they project of the West as a colonialist ‘crusader’ power,
    which acts with impunity to impose its will overseas and especially against Muslims.
  • The military actions of Western nations recruit more people to the cause than they kill. Every bomb dropped is a recruitment poster for ISIS, a rallying point for the young, vulnerable and alienated. And every bomb dropped on Syrian cities drives yet more people to flee and seek refuge in safer countries.
  • We believe our country should act with wisdom and far-sighted courage. A wisdom that rises above the temptation to respond to every problem with military might. A wisdom that looks back at our military failures in Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan and learns from experience. The courage – and strength– to think through the likely consequences of actions to find a long term, lasting solution.

What we are asking our politicians to do

  • The UK and NATO allies must stop arming and financing any of the parties fighting in Syria, before we can expect that others do the same.
  • Look carefully at how national and international actions have contributed to the creation and maintenance of terrorist threats, and amend our arms trade and other aspects of our foreign policy. This means an end to armed drone strikes, and pressure on our allies to end detention without trial, torture and export of armaments. We ask for renewed efforts to enable Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace, and a re-evaluation of the UK relationship with Saudi Arabia.
  • Observe international law and apply it equally to all parties.
  • Build cooperation among nations, strengthening those international institutions which contribute to peace.
  • Export peace rather than war, so that we can create the conditions the world needs to address its most serious problems, including climate change.
  • Welcome refugees, so we can not only meet the acute needs of those individuals but also undercut the narrative of fear and mistrust.
  • Resist the marginalisation & demonization of Muslims, which is a key plank in ISIS’s plan for success. We must engage in acts of solidarity and coexist with our Muslim brothers and sisters.
  • Justice for terrorist crimes must come through the rule of law. Acts of terrorism are crimes, not acts of war, and must not be treated as such.

Demonstration this Evening

Don’t Bomb Syria Demonstration, called by Birmingham Stop the War Coalition

5 pm Wednesday 2nd December outside Waterstones, High St (near the Bull Ring)

Why are you highlighting this issue, outside of your current focus theme?

This is an urgent issue, about which Quakers are passionate, and we felt it important to appeal to anyone who opposes air strikes on Syria, and supports peace-building efforts instead, to make their voices heard – especially as we understand that Birmingham’s MPs are currently undecided.

You can read a full statement from Quakers on this issue here.

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