“NO” TO WAR IN SYRIA;
“NO” TO VIOLENCE ANYWHERE!
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
The United States is on the verge of striking Syria militarily because of the latter’s use of chemical weapons (a deadly nerve gas called ‘Sarin’) against their own people on August 21st which has apparently killed more than one thousand four hundred.
If President Bashar al-Assad has actually used this gas, it surely deserves all-round condemnation. The people of Syria have been suffering against his dictatorial regime and he has certainly used every trick in the book to quell a popular peoples’ movement which insists that he gives up the reins of power immediately.
Inspite of the growing evidence that Syria (like Iran and North Korea) has no hesitation in going against international norms which forbids the use of chemical weapons, another war in the Middle East will not only have deadly repercussions in that area of conflict but in fact all over the world. It is therefore imperative at this moment, that the United States and other countries, exercise utmost restraint so that the conflict does not escalate into a full blown war.
Besides, war and violence is no answer to what is happening in many parts of the world and particularly in countries like Egypt. Violence only begets violence and all are aware that the innocent, the poor and the marginalized have always to face the worst brunt of these man-made catastrophes.
In a message to the world on Sunday September 1st 2013, his Holiness Pope Francis said, "Today, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to make add my voice to the cry which rises up with increasing anguish from every part of the world, from every people, from the heart of each person, from the one great family which is humanity: it is the cry for peace! It is a cry which declares with force: we want a peaceful world, we want to be men and women of peace, and we want in our society, torn apart by divisions and conflict, that peace break out! War never again! Never again war! Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected.
There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.”
Further, in a fervent appeal to the whole world, Pope Francis has invited all Catholics, all fellow Christians, all followers of other religion and all men and women of good will to observe Saturday 7th September, as a day of fast and prayer for peace in Syria, in the Middle East and throughout the world.
This is surely an important first step! We also need a dialogue which is transparent and the courage to address endemic issues in a pragmatic manner. Above all, in more ways than one, all of us are called to say a loud “NO” to war and in fact to violence of any kind and anywhere.
2nd September, 2013
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad – 380 052