The Hague, 7 April 2015 – The campaign group Naame Shaam (1) today called for peaceful demonstrations in front of Iranian embassies all over the world on April 17, Syria’s Independence Day, to protest against what the group describes as the “Iranian occupation of Syria.”
As part of its callout, Naame Shaam has warned protesters and activists against carrying out any form of protest in front of Iranian embassies in Beirut and Damascus for obvious security reasons. Peaceful protests should only be held in countries where the rule of law prevails and where the authorities can guarantee the safety of people exercising their right to peaceful protest.
The head of the Research and Advocacy unit at Naame Shaam, Shiar Youssef, said: “It is no longer a secret that the Iranian interference in Syria amounts to a military occupation, as defined by international law. Sepah Qods (the foreign arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards) is in control of all major military operations attributed to the Syrian regime forces. Iranian commanders are in total control of the Syrian military and other Syrian paramilitary forces.
“Regime-held areas in Syria are effectively occupied by the Iranian regime and its militias. General Soleimani, the head of Sepah Qods, is the de facto ruler of Iranian-occupied Syria, and Syrian President Bashar Assad is no more than his puppet.”
Youssef added: “Time has come for the international community to treat the war in Syria as an international armed conflict that involves a foreign occupation by the Iranian regime and its militias and a liberation struggle by the Syrian people against this foreign occupation, as defined by the 1907 Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.”(2)
To visualize the Iranian occupation of Syria, Naame Shaam today released a photomontage of a Syrian bank note with the counterfeit of General Soleimani, together with former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad.(3)
Naame Shaam’s Campaign Director Fouad Hamdan said: “While calling for peaceful protests, we also have to think about solutions. The only realistic way to end the Iranian occupation of Syria is by pressuring the US and its allies to take concrete steps in line with the international ‘responsibility to protect’ norm. These will inevitably include imposing no-fly zones to protect civilians from all forms of daily bombardment.
“They should also include giving the Iranian regime a serious ultimatum to pull all its forces and militias out of Syria and end all its financial and military support to the Syrian regime, or face serious consequences.”(4)
“So, while protesting in front of Iranian embassies,” Hamdan added, “we should also demand that the US and its allies hold those responsible for the bloodshed in Syria to account. This should include referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. Syrian, Lebanese and Iranian political leaders and military commanders like Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and the head of Sepah Qods, General Qassem Soleimani, should be held responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria.”(5)
Notes for editors:
1. Naame Shaam is a group of Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese activists and citizen-journalists that focuses on uncovering the role of the Iranian regime in Syria. Naame Shaam (نامه شام) means “Letter from Syria” in Persian. For more details about the group and its activities, see www.naameshaam.org.
Naame Shaam is supported by the Netherlands-based Rule of Law Foundation, www.lawrules.org.
2. In November 2014, Naame Shaam published an in-depth report on the role of the Iranian regime in the ongoing war in Syria, “Iran in Syria: From an Ally of the Regime to an Occupying Force”. See the full report here.
For a detailed legal discussion of whether the Iranian presence in Syria constitutes a military occupation, see Chapter II of the report.
3. You can find the mock bank note here.
4. Naame Shaam has been calling on the US and its allies to implement “five concrete steps” to stop the bloodbath in Syria and end the no-longer-secret Iranian occupation of the country. See here.
5. Naame Shaam has been demanding that the US and its allies refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). See here.
6. In June 2014, in the run-up to the sham presidential ‘election’ in Syria, Naame Shaam organised a mock ‘election campaign’ urging Syrians to vote for Qassem Soleimani as the president of Syria and for Bashar al-Assad as his deputy. As part of the campaign, Naame Shaam activists staged a mock ‘election rally’ in front of the Iranian embassy in London to highlight the role of the Iranian regime in Syria and who is really in control there. For more details about this campaign, see here.