Syria conflict requires political solution, churches hear


Human rights advocate Dr Haytham Al-Manna has told churches that violence is not the answer to the conflict in Syria.

Dr Al-Manna, head of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria, was at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva for a conference exploring a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict.

"Violence begets violence. It is not possible for Syrians to overcome conflict without a political solution, strong democratic institutions and demilitarisation of the country," he said.

More than 60,000 people have died in the conflict, according to United Nations estimates.

Dr Al-Manna said the situation in Syria was "very fragile" and that the availability of weapons had proliferated across the country.

"Yet it is through non-violent means only that we can hope for radical change and peace," he said.

He said the majority of Syrians were dreaming of a stable democratic state and added that no community was protected by the regime.

"We were all equal under the same oppression. In the movement for democracy and transformation, people from all religious backgrounds are struggling together," he said.

Michel Nseir, programme executive for the WCC special focus on the Middle East, said there was a need for governments and religious leaders to preserve Syria's diversity.

"The cohesion of the Syrian social fabric is essential for the whole region. This is of great concern to the WCC," he said.

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