Over 200 Syrian opposition figures met in Halboun in the outskirts of the capital Damascus in order to coordinate efforts to build a national opposition movement and to address the anti-government protests that have gripped the country for the last six months.
The meeting was attended by Michel Kilo, Fayez Sarah, and Mondher Khaddam, all prominent secular opposition figures who spent long periods of time in Syrian jails. While they expressed support for the street protests and the legitimate aspirations of the Syrians people, they rejected all forms of violence and decried the lack of organization among the opposition.
“We cannot deny that the situation in Syria is extremely complicated. For over fifty years our society has been deprived of political life. But today, thanks to the brave uprising of our people, we can meet and speak out what we used to whisper behind the closed doors” (Mondher Khaddam).
The opposition meeting was summed up in three slogans, No to Violence, No Sectarian Divisions, and No to Foreign Intervention. The attendees were also expected to elect an executive committee for the national coordination of Syrian opposition.
“I strongly encourage all members of the opposition and plead with everyone in this meeting and in the Syrian National Coordination to move the election of the executive committee, which will lead us toward the establishment of a Syrian National Council” (Fayez Sarah).
The Syrian government has repeatedly said it was resolved to implement reforms initiated by President Bashar Assad and to ensure transition to a democratic system with multi-party representation. Earlier this month President Assad signed new party and new media laws aimed at easing restrictions on political parties and media outlets.
The organizer of the meeting, the Syrian “National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change,” was created in June 2011 with Hassan Adhim as secretary. It is an umbrella group for Syrian secular movements, the communist party, and eleven Kurdish political parties. The Muslim Brotherhood was not represented.
Most observers of Syrian politics agree that the significance of the meeting of the opposition lies in the location. It took place on Syrian soil, in Damascus, and according to the latest information we have no opposition figure was arrested.
This video was released by Press TV on 18 September 2011. The text above is an edited partial transcript of the video. Cf. Mohamed Awad, “Samir Aita Warns against Gulf States Seeking to Bring Down the Arab Spring” (Youm7, 4 September 2011); “Opposition Demands the Overthrow of the Regime without De-Ba’athification” (Watan, 18 September 2011); “National Coordination Body for Democratic Change: No Political Solution Until the End of Military Solution to Security” (AlWatanOnline, 18 September 2011).