Human Rights Award of Weimar goes to two kidnapped Syrian bishops
At the suggestion of Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), the commission decided to award this year’s Human Rights Award of Weimar to two Syrian bishops. The decision was announced the 10th July. The distinction honours the commitment of Mor Gregorius Yohanna (Syrian-othodox church) und Boulos Yazigi (Greek-orthodox church) in Aleppo as mediators
, ambassadors and fighters for human rights in the ongoing Syrian civil war. The bishops argued repeatedly in favour of a peaceful togetherness, as well as coexistence of diverse ethnic and religious groups in their country. Both called again and again for reconciliation, forgiveness and dialogue and tried to find ways the end the violence and to preserve the Syrian national unity by the means of pluralism and tolerance. Since 1995, the reward, endowed with 2,500 Euros, is traditionally conferred at the International Day of Human Rights, the 10th December.
This year’s decision, on initiative of the STP, is of special meaning, since both honourees were abducted the 22nd April 2013, presumably by radicals. Heretofore there is no trace of the clerics. They started their ominous journey with the goal of effecting the release of an abducted priest through negotiations in Al Mansura – close to Aleppo they ran into an ambush and were themselves kidnapped. Their driver, a Deacon, was killed during the abduction. The perpetrators are still unknown. Ever since there has been no sign of live of the two human rights activists.
We are in great fear about the lives of Mor Gregorius Yohanna and Boulos Yazigi. The international society must no longer keep watching the suffering of the whole Syrian civil population caused by a dirty proxy war between “sunni” and “shiite” alliances. In this war, the Syrian Christians are in a particularly difficult situation. After more than 40 years of dictatorship, the Kurds, Assyrian-Arameans, Armenians, Druses, Ismaili, Christians and Yezidi, but also muslim Arabs, deserve a better future.
The STP demands religious freedom, freedom of mind and a federal structure for the Syrian state as a long-term solution, the same demands the bishops Mor Gregorius Yohanna and Boulos Yazigi have frequently made. They are worthy laureates. Their unconditional commitment and the personal risk they exposed themselves to is exemplary. The award is a meaningful signal of confidence and hope to all Christian minorities in the Middle East .