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Interfaith Programs

UPF-Argentina Acts for Peace in Syria

Lea en español aquí

Buenos Aires, Argentina—On May 3, UPF-Argentina celebrated the 72nd anniversary of Syrian Independence Day in front of the Syrian Arab Republic Embassy. For the occasion, we planted an olive tree at Rodríguez Peña Park in Buenos Aires to support the Syrian people, who have endured conflict for seven years. The motto for the commemoration was: “Achieving Life and Peace: to uphold dignity in each individual, brotherhood among peoples, and peaceful coexistence: in Syria, the Middle East, our Homeland, and the World.”

Participants who gave a few words were Mohamed Maher Mahfouz, Syrian Ambassador to Argentina; Horacio Daboul, President of the Association “Liga Árabe Cultural y Social;” Fernando Ferreyra, Proprietor of Commune 2 in Buenos Aires City; Juan Sarrafian, president of FAC (Federación Argentina de Colectividades); and Miguel Werner, secretary general of UPF-Argentina (1). Supporters who offered a few words of tribute to Syrians were Rosalía Gutiérrez, representative of native peoples; Ram Krishan Singh Khalsa, from the Sikh Dharma community in Argentina; Faiza Yahia, from the Islam community; Rabbi Arieh Sztokman, from the Jewish community; Pastor David Calvo, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church; Elder John Switzer and his wife Janice, from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Monsignor Crisóstomo Gassali, archbishop from the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch in Argentina; and Friar Jorge Bender, Guardian of the Saint Francis of Assisi Friary.

Participants watered the olive tree in a gesture of commitment “to life and peace,” including Councilors Adriana Boccalandro (San Vicente–Buenos Aires) and Marianela López (Hurlingham–Buenos Aires); as well as representatives of other entities: Aníbal Gotelli, president of the Interdisciplinary Center of Cultural Studies; Olga Noman, head of Cruzada Jujeña de Solidaridad; Patricia Pitaluga, director of the Civil Society Acercando Naciones; Irene Ortiz, president of the Africa House in Argentina; Jorge Alcaraz, member of the Argentinian writers’ society SADE; Elena Paniagua, president of the Association “Ciudad Hermana San Clemente Argentina;” Osvaldo García Napo, CEO at Radio El Ascensor; Mariela Domenichelli, president of CERECO, an international Foundation for the Resolution of Conflicts; and Mabel Padilla, representative of the A.V.E.S. Foundation for Environment, Life, Education, and Sustainability in Jujuy.

The ceremony concluded with the poem “Tengo un Hermano” (2), read by its author, Esteban Fauret, Ambassador for Peace and director of the literary and ecological program “Y volverán a ser árboles” (Pehuajó – Buenos Aires). Meanwhile, young Ambassadors for Peace Kotoe Ainai, Hitomi Kageyama, and Motomi Hirai performed a Spanish version of “Hallelujah,” with a message of faith, hope, and solidarity for the Syrian people.

It is worth mentioning that the conflict in Syria, which has become more violent in recent years, has produced more than 400,000 deaths, almost a quarter of which are of children who died during the constant bombings of populated areas (3). According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, since 2011 there have been more than 5.4 million refugees who were forced to flee their land and their families in pursuit of safety. Many drowned when trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, there are 6.1 million internally displaced people and 2.9 million people who live in besieged and hard-to-reach areas (4).

According to UNICEF, more than 13 million people require humanitarian aid in Syria and neighboring countries, including more than 5.3 million children. Besides, more than 1.5 million people live with permanent disability due to war. Nearly 3.3 million children are exposed to mines, and others are tortured, kidnapped or sexually abused. In 2017, the number of children recruited into armed groups increased three times over the number for 2015 (5).

UPF-Argentina organized the meeting along with the Cultural and Social Arab League, the Commune 2, and the Syrian Collectivity. The Argentinian Federation of Collectivities (FAC) and the Higher Institute ASIMRA sponsored the event. Supporting entities were Alberto Asseff, Mercosur parliamentarian; Eduardo Santamarina, Buenos Aires city legislator; Civil Society Acercando Naciones; Africa House in Argentina; Civil Society Caminando; Rotary Club Parque de los Patricios (District 4895); Neighbors Society from Buenos Aires City; and the Movement Jubilados y Juventud.

NOTES:

1) News of the event can be seen in “El Diario Sirio Libanés”:

www.diariosiriolibanes.com.ar/Sociedad/Sociedad/Un-nuevo-olivo-por-la-Paz-en-Siria

2) Poem:

“Tengo un Hermano”

“No nos vimos nunca, pero no importaba, mi hermano despierto mientras yo dormía, mi hermano mostrándome detrás de la noche su estrella elegida” —Julio Cortázar

Tengo un hermano que padezco,

mientras sueño despierto con su río,

el águila de su cielo y su rosa damacena.

Un hermano que sufro

su bandera en jirones y su alma en harapos

mientras llega la noche

y se nubla su estrella.

Mi hermano teme al mundo

que no mira sus ojos

y yo quiero mirarlo…

¡pero estamos tan lejos!

Ni siquiera las aguas de los mares se besan.

Y llego por las noches atando pensamientos

hasta la huesa de su desesperanza

que cierra las ventanas y mantiene despierta

la sangre de su piel detrás de las ruinas

intentando ser sueño, espejismo, quimera,

o tal vez solo ausencia.

A mi hermano le cuento

del verdor de mi tierra, del fulgor de mi estrella,

que quisiera que beba de mi campo el rocío,

que beba de la sangre del ceibo de mi río,

que juntos batallemos por un mundo que llora,

que suframos la paz, que es la esperanza

que nos queda en el alma.

Para mi hermano, solo tengo un poema

de paz para su guerra,

y un cielo que es de lluvia

y unas manos que rezan.

—Esteban Fauret

Ambassador for Peace of UPF-Argentina; founder of the literary-ecological program Y Volverán a Ser Árboles” (Pehuajó – Buenos Aires), which is praised by public entities and nongovernmental organizations.

3) Syria ‘bleeding inside and out’: https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/03/1004742

4) Syria Emergency: www.acnur.org/que-hace/respuesta-a-emergencias/emergencia-en-siria/

5) Syria: seven years of never-ending conflict: www.unicef.es/causas/emergencias/conflicto-en-siria

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