Voices from Russia

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Syriac Orthodox Bishop Issues Appeal to Publicise the Plight of the Innocent People of Qalamoun

00 The face of the Syrian opposition. 27.10.13


For four days, villages under siege by jihadist rebels from the Saudi-backed group Jaysh al-Islam went without food, medicines, electricity, and communications. Syriac Orthodox Bishop Silwanos Boutros Naameh called for a humanitarian corridor to the besieged communities, urging the besiegers to show some “mercy”. Bishop Silwanos appealed on behalf of the 3,000 residents of Sadad and Hofar, in the Qalamoun region (An-Nabk District, in Rif Dimashq Governorate in western Syria, near Lebanon), asking that the rebels spare and relieve them from the current siege, to allow them to move to safe places near Homs. He asked that all major religious leaders and all heads of state, as well as all men of good will, to raise their voices so that the rebel besiegers would allow the residents, stuck in their homes without food or medicine, to escape the siege. The Qalamoun area is under the control of Islamist insurgents from Jaysh al-Islam, led by Zahran Alloush, backed financially and militarily by Saudi Arabia. The Jihadist rebels want to control the Beqaa Valley and the lines of communication between Homs and Damascus, therefore, occupying Qalamoun is the first phase of their new offensive against the Syrian Army and the Lebanese Hezbollah. We publish Mar Silwanos’ appeal, calling on everyone to spread it as widely as possible.


To all humanitarian and religious institutions and organisations, as well as to all people of good will, and to all humanitarians, I address this appeal for all the people under siege in areas that are now inaccessible, which they can’t leave, and which we can’t reach. They live in the villages of Sadad and Hofar, in the Qalamoun area in Syria. I write this so that you might appeal to the besiegers, as they’ve not allowed local residents to leave, that they might agree to talks to facilitate the safe departure of the residents, in any direction, either towards the Convent of al-Attieh or towards Homs, where we could succour them. I implore all those with influence and all those in contact with the warring parties to put pressure on and negotiate with the besiegers, passing on this request for the safe release of the captive residents, even though most of them haven’t yet suffered mistreatment.

These people were under siege for the past four days without electricity and water, or means of communication. They have little food. Amongst them, there are children who need milk and sick people who need medicines. Around 3,000 people live in the beleaguered communities. Their besiegers aren’t letting them leave their homes. Indeed, they put pressure on them to stay put, despite having held talks with them. We call on all organisations, on all the children of our Church scattered throughout the world, to give aid and active support. Help us! Work with us prudently, without making statements that could affect the safety of the besieged. Our people shall never forget. I repeat, reiterating our good intentions so as not to jeopardise the safety of our loved ones… please, post this appeal on your blogs and websites, send it to newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets. Send it also to all those who could play a positive role in finding a solution that would secure the residents’ release. For our part, in our mission, we repeat in God’s name, we call on the besiegers to show mercy to these innocent people, who aren’t responsible for this tragedy. Let them go safely and treat them well. We call upon God to give these innocent people patience, strength, hope, courage, health, and vigour.

Lord, Lord, Lord! Do NOT abandon them! 

Mar Silwanos Boutros Naameh

Syriac Orthodox Bishop

25 October 2013



Editor’s Note:

Reflect on who backs the Saudis (and which political faction in the USA makes the most warmongering noise)… you’ll know what to do in November ’14. You’ll cast your vote against the Republican Party… this is what their “American Exceptionalism” has led to (do you want a repeat of Afghanistan, only worse?). It sickens me to no end…

The Christian people of Syria hang on the cross… and the Neocon Republicans and the Interventionist Democrats want to bomb, burn, and destroy (NOT build, aid, and feed) throughout the world (they don’t even want to help feed poor Americans, so, its natural that they wouldn’t want to help feed luckless foreigners). Something is horridly wrong with us, our political institutions, and our religion… we must either put it right or else. “We have met the enemy, and he is us“.




Monday, 21 October 2013

Hopes Rise for Abducted Bishops after Pilgrims Freed by Syrian Oppos

00 Patriarch Kirill with Syrian bishops. 09.10.13

Syrian bishops with HH… one of the topics under discussion was a confab to figure out what to do for the two abducted bishops.


On Sunday, two caretaker ministers said that the release of nine Lebanese pilgrims held hostage in Syria raised hopes for the freedom of two Orthodox bishops kidnapped by Syrian rebels in April. Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel denied earlier reports that the bishops were dead, telling the Daily Star, “The two bishops are alive and are held in an area around Aleppo”. Asked which group in the Syrian opposition was holding them, he said, “We don’t know yet who’s holding the two bishops. We’re trying to determine the group that kidnapped them before launching moves to secure their release”.

On 22 April, armed men kidnapped Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos al-Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Youhanna Ibrahim whilst they were enroute to the northern city from the Turkish border. Reportedly, a small group of rebels holds them in the town of Bshaqtin, 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) northwest of Aleppo. However, Charbel struck an upbeat note about freedom for the two bishops following the release of nine Lebanese pilgrims on Saturday, who returned home from Turkey after spending 17 months captive at the hands of Syrian rebels in the Aleppo region town of Azaz near the Turkish border, saying, “The release of the kidnapped Lebanese in Azaz gives hope for the release of the two bishops”.

Similarly, Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour was optimistic about the release of the two bishops following the three-way swap deal that also involved the release of two Turkish Airlines pilots kidnapped in Beirut in August and dozens of Syrian women detained by President Bashar al-Assad’s régime. Mansour told the Daily Star, “There’s hope for the release of all detainees and kidnapped people in Syria. The release of the Lebanese hostages in Azaz could be a prelude toward releasing all the kidnap victims in Syria, including the two bishops”. Noting that Lebanon plays “a humanitarian role” to help secure the freedom of the two bishops, Mansour said, “We should combine local and international efforts, especially with the Syrian authorities and countries that wield influence on the kidnappers, to secure the release of the two bishops”. He added that, so far, the kidnappers hadn’t announced their motive for holding the two bishops or issued any demands for their release. Mansour said, “Lebanon had nothing to do with the kidnapping of the two bishops because the abduction took place on Syrian territory and the two bishops are Syrian citizens. Lebanon only plays a humanitarian role in helping to secure the release of the two bishops”.

Caretaker Defence Minister Fayez Ghosn said that serious efforts were underway to secure the two bishops’ freedom, saying, “Serious efforts are continuing towards eliminating all obstacles in the way to secure their release”. He expressed hope that these efforts would succeed, so that “we could see the two bishops safe, amongst us”. Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of General Security, who shuttled to and from regional capitals to facilitate negotiations on the release of the Lebanese, promised to continue efforts to secure the two bishops’ freedom. He told reporters after arriving with the nine freed Lebanese at Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport Saturday night, “We have a lot of work to do because the two bishops and others are still [held captive]. The case isn’t finished. Only part of the work is done”.

Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi voiced hope that the two bishops would gain their freedom following the release of the pilgrims. Mar Bechara said during Sunday Mass in Metn, “We thank God for the release of the nine Lebanese kidnapped in Syria. We celebrate with their families over the joy of their safe return. We particularly pray for the release of Bishops Boulos al-Yazigi and Youhanna Ibrahim … We pray that this human tragedy comes to an end”.

21 October 2013

Hussein Dakroub

The Daily Star (Lebanon)


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