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Syrian activists building the new Syria

Amnesty International UK recently hosted 16 leading activists from the Syrian Non Violence Movement (SNVM). They came for an intensive 2 day training session in our Human Rights Action Centre. The all day sessions were on “campaign strategy” and “campaigns organisation.

This training is part of AIUKs long term transition work in Syria.  A key focus for us is to see activists from Syria empowered and mobilised to meet shared campaigning objectives, take our shared human rights messages out to a wider audience and be better enabled to defend their own and others rights.

Key areas Amnesty is pressing to ensure any transition is effective and includes core human rights measures are on equality and non-discrimination, security sector reform, rule of law and human rights education.

A longer term aim for the SNVM is that they will be in a position to open a head office in Syria when the conditions are right. 

I’ve been working with them since late 2011. Their members have spoken at our Trafalgar Square MENA rally in February 2012, given the keynote address at our Annual General Meeting in May 2012, student conferences, local Amnesty groups and all 3 main political party conferences in the UK. Their members have also been featured in several Amnesty press releases. See here, here and here.

A lot of this training, advice and future work with the SNVM (and several other Syrian groups & individuals) is about developing organisational strategy and strength, including for campaigning and growth. 

Regardless of what happens in Syria, an active, strong and independent civil society (whether over ground or underground) is critical – this is part of that work.

The process of emancipation, empowerment and enlightenment will take many years in Syria and individuals in the SNVM are some of those pushing that change process forward. They are certainly not the only ones and I'll soon be writing on a SNVM mapping project of the huge and diverse range of non violent resistance in Syria. It's not the sort of thing which makes news headlines but it is certainly the stuff which will help make a new and better Syria.

So it was a real honour to spend such time with them, all together in the same place as opposed to communications just being via skype or email.

I’ll certainly be writing more in the coming days and weeks on this developing relationship and posting videos of SNVM members talking about their own plans and hopes for a new Syria - a Syria based on human rights and dignity for all.


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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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