PRESS RELEASE: Chicago press conference on Syria - record number of deaths over weekend
A United Coalition of national and local Syrian-American and Muslim-American organizations joined by Chicago family members of those Killed Speak Out (CHICAGO, IL, 8/27/2012) — The Chicago office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) announced today that local and national Syrian and Muslim American leaders, joined by affected Chicago families who have lost loved ones, will be holding a Press Conference at 11:00AM on Tuesday at CAIR-Chicago's downtown office to discuss steps to end the bloodshed in Syria.
Saturday marked the bloodiest day in Syria since the revolution began on March 15, 2011 with the death toll reaching a record high of 440 in one day. Over 200 people were massacred in the Damascus suburb of Daraya alone (notable as the site of the first peaceful demonstrations in which participants carried roses and gave out bottled water to security forces) bringing the week's total in that suburb to 600. Most were reported to have been killed by Syrian troops “execution style” on Saturday, including 156 people shot in the basement of a mosque.
WHAT: Press Conference on Syria by a united coalition of major Syrian American organizations and Muslim American organizations, as well as Chicagoans who have lost family members in Syria.
WHEN: 11:00 AM Tuesday, August 28, 2012
WHERE: CAIR-Chicago 28 E. Jackson Blvd, Suite 1700 Chicago IL 60604
WHO: • Yaser Tabbara, Chicago Attorney, American Syrian Coalition (ASC) • Mazen Asbahi, Syrian Expatriates, Washington D.C. Lost 5 family members in Syria • Dr. Fateen Atassi, President, Syrian American Council - Chicago (SAC) • Safaa Zarzour, Secretary General, Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Nation's largest grassroots Muslim organization • Dima Mousa, a Christian Syrian Activist with the Syrian National Council (SNC) • Noha Kam, Local Chicago student, recently returned from Syria, lost cousin in Syria • Zaher Sahloul, Chairman, CIOGC, and President of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) which carried out recent humanitarian aid work in Syrian refugee camps on Turkish border • Ahmed Rehab, CAIR-Chicago
The Assad military regime's crackdown on the Syrian people has resulted in one of the world's most dire current humanitarian crises.
An estimated 30,000 people have been killed since the Revolution started in Syria. More than 200,000 Syrians have been forced to take refuge in neighbouring countries with these numbers expected to rapidly rise if the situation continues as it is. 1.5 million have been internally displaced and 2.5 million are in need of humanitarian aid according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
"The strategy of 'waiting this out' and 'wishing it away' is not working," Yaser Tabbara, a local Chicago attorney and an international Syrian American activist said. "The international community must go beyond tacit support and into active support in order to end the humanitarian crisis and usher stability into the region. An immediate No-Fly Zone is imperative as a start."
Noha Kam, a local Chicago student who recently returned from visiting family in Syria said that her family were forced into a shelter shortly after she left. "The daily stress in wondering whether you will make it or not is unimaginable. Our neighborhood was shelled day in, day out. My cousin joined the army to serve his country. When he refused to participate in human rights abuses, he was shot."
Regime forces killed more than 1800 people during this week only, a third more than the previous week.
Mazen Asbahi, a Chicago attorney, who was the first appointed Muslim-American Liaison, by President Obama and heads up political work on Syria in DC lost five family members. "My cousin, her husband, and three kids were executed at point blank by government militias as they hid in the basement of their home," Asbahi said.
"This is not only a Syrian issue. This is an issue for all global citizens of conscience. Chicagoans of diverse backgrounds have come together to express support for the Syrian people. A No-Fly Zone will enable a safe corridor for humanitarian aid. International paramedics have been calling for it. It's long overdue," Ahmed Rehab said.
CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.