Paris, 13 April 2015 – Activists from the campaign group Naame Shaam (1) today held a peaceful protest in front the Iranian embassy in Paris against what they described as the “Iranian occupation of Syria.” Standing in front of the embassy, the masked activists held banners in Arabic, Persian and English which read: “End Iranian occupation of Syria.”(2)
The protesters demanded that the international community treats the war in Syria as an international armed conflict that involves a foreign occupation by the Iranian regime and its militias of the so-called regime-held areas of Syria and a liberation struggle by the Syrian people against this foreign occupation. They also demanded that the US and its allies impose no-fly zones over Syria and enact economic sanctions against the Iranian regime to force it to withdraw its troops and militias out of Syria.
The protest came four days before Syria’s Independence Day on April 17, which activists this year plan to mark by protesting against the Iranian role in Syria.
Last week Naame Shaam called for peaceful demonstrations in front of Iranian embassies all over the world on April 17. But it warned 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: “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.”(3)
Youssef added: “Regime-held areas in Syria are effectively occupied by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Sepah Pasdaran) and the militias they control (Hezbollah Lebanon and the Iraqi and Afghani Shia militias). The foreign arm of Sepah Pasdaran, Sepah Qods, controls of all major military operations attributed to the Assad regime forces.”
Naame Shaam’s Campaign Director Fouad Hamdan said: “The US and its allies must 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)
“The US and its allies should also hold to account those responsible for the bloodshed in Syria, including Syrian, Lebanese and Iranian political leaders and military commanders. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and the head of Iran’s Sepah Qods, General Qassem Soleimani, should be held responsible for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria.”(5)
“Time has come to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, so that Syrians have a chance next year to celebrate their Independence Day for real. Time has also come to impose economic sanctions against the Iranian regime to force it to withdraw its Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah and other militias it controls out of Syria.” Hamdan added.
Notes for editors:
High-resolution photos and video of the protest are available here.
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. To visualize the Iranian occupation of Syria, Naame Shaam last week released a photomontage of a Syrian bank note with the counterfeit of General Soleimani, together with former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. You can find the mock bank note here.
3. 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. Details.
3. 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. Details.
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. Details.
5. Naame Shaam has been demanding that the US and its allies refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Details.
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.