PETITION ON THE ABDUCTION OF THE TWO HIERARCHS OF ALEPPO SYRIA
Today, Wednesday 18 May 2016, we have gathered here in Athens, from all over Greece, Syria, Lebanon, the rest of Europe and the Middle East, on the occasion of the third anniversary of the joint abduction of two outstanding figures in the Christian communities in Syria, His Eminence Pavlos, the Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Mar Johanna of the Syro-Jacobite Community, Archbishop of Aleppo, while they were conducting a humanitarian mission to the north of the city of Aleppo in Syria. Their communities are suffering and mourn their absence.
Their abduction is not an isolated incident, but came about within the context of an inhuman war which has been unfolding in Syria for more than five years and bears the stamp of terrorism, as embodied by the ‘Islamic State’. The aim of the anniversary of the abduction is not merely to recall a woeful event. It is a challenge to the human conscience, both on a global and a local level, as regards the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, the demolition of their homes and churches, and the danger that the whole region will be left devoid of a Christian presence. And this region is the cradle of Christianity.
This call is a conscious act of solidarity with all those who are suffering the consequences of the war and is part of a common initiative, with similar events having been organized all over the world: on both sides of the Mediterranean, in America, and in Europe with the aim of breaking this three-year wall of silence and indifference and to launch a programme of common action.
Therefore, with this gathering, we denounce before international public opinion the international guilt for the silence surrounding the fate of the two abducted bishops, as also the more general inability to react, regarding the persecutions of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.
We call upon the Security Council of the United Nations, the European Commission, the relevant state and institutional powers and all the parties involved to reveal the truth about the drama of the two abducted bishops and to undertake specific initiatives so that their fate can be elucidated.
We also urge them to put together a plan to meet the immediate needs for the protection of Christians and other minorities in Syria and Iraq, to the end that the Christians will be able to remain on their land, where they first put down roots two thousand years ago, and continue to practice their faith freely, in the hope that no-one else will be abducted in the future.
We urge them to be aware of the fact that they bear the weight of the moral and historical responsibility for the present tragedy of the Christians in the Middle East, who have always advocated peace, progress and respect for the person, irrespective of nationality or religion.
We earnestly entreat that an immediate solution be found which will bring peace and will be based on respect for the religious freedom of each person, in the conviction that peace for the world involves peace for Christians, too.
Finally, we call upon all people of good will to commit to bringing an end to the inhuman terrorist attacks which are a scourge in Syria and Iraq, a threat to neighboring countries, a blow to Europe when least expected and, potentially a flash-point for the whole of the planet.
This resolution is being sent to Signora Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European External Action Service, Belgium.
You can watch the video of the event that took place in Athens on the 18th of May 2016 here