Why Your Voice Matters And Why The World Needs You

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Syrian Children With UN Goodwill Ambassador

In a world filled with hardship and misery it is easy for people to become cynical and hardhearted.  In a world with so much distrust, division, and hatred it is difficult for many to have love and compassion for their fellow humanity.  It is easy to direct our eyes away from suffering in the world, to close our ears to those crying out for help, to not reach out and embrace those who feel unloved.

We can pretend we live on an island and that what we do or fail to do only effects us.  We can imagine that the suffering in the world is much less than it is in reality.  We can dream that all those who are in need of help have somewhere or someone they can go to in order to get help.  Many do those very things all the time and the world suffers greatly because of it.

They become cynical and hardhearted, unloving and uncompassionate, blind, deaf, and unfeeling towards the suffering in the world.  They live their lives as if they live on an island.  They refuse to aknowledge the real degree of suffering in the world.  They lie to themselves in believing that it is always someone’s own fault why they suffer and continue to suffer.  All of us who are trying to do activism for a better world face many such people in the course of our activism.  We have to continue to ignore them or they will discourage us and cause us to want to give up trying.  We must do our best to avoid such people as much as possible and simply ignore them when to avoid them is impossible.  We must encourage each other to continue in their activism for a better world and hope that they are there to encourage us when we are in need of such encouragement.  For every time anyone of us quits trying that makes creating positive change in the world that much more difficult and that much more unlikely.  It also makes it more likely others will become discouraged and quit as well.  Saddest of all it makes those who need our voice and help the most left without us to speak for them and to help them.

Each one of us has an unique background, skills, knowledge, interest, understanding, personality, heart, and mind that allows us to reach and help different people.  We often fail to realize how much of a positive impact we actually have on people and the world as a whole.  Sometimes it is the smallest and seemingly most insignificant things we have said and did that ended up having a positive impact in someone else’s life.  The reverse is also true so we better choose our words and actions carefully in order not to have a negative effect on people. 

The truth is there is no one else in the world who can help bring about positive change in the world exactly like you.  There is people who you can reach that others can not.  You have a perspective that is uniquely yours that no one else has that is exactly the same.  In other words there is not someone else who can fully take your place, fully affect change the way you can, and fully help people the way you are able to.  Individuals matter and your unique individuality is irreplaceable.  You in spite what the cynics say, are uniquely qualified to bring about positive change in the world and to people’s lives.  Your voice is yours and never let anyone take that away from you or make you feel that you do not matter.  You matter and you deserve to be heard.  Find your voice and place, follow your dreams, and share your heart, spirit, and mind with the world.

Alan Curtis Montgomery

Flag Of The Free Syria Revolution

Free Syrian Army: Assad Is #1 Enemy Of Syria and Iran, Hezbollah, ISIS Are His Mercenaries

Free Syria Army Letter

Official Letter From The Free Syrian Army (FSA)

My fellow “Free Syria” activist and I have been following the situation in Syria closely for a long time.  I can’t tell you how many countless man-hours over the last few years I have spent researching the situation in Syria.  From that time I have been a supporter of the Free Syrian Army and have continually defended them from people who unjustly blamed them for war crimes and crimes against humanity that happened in Syria.  These crimes were often internationally proven to have been committed by the Assad regime, but people with malicious agendas tried to pin the blame on the FSA.  These people simply did not know what they were talking about and were getting their information from the likes of Assad propagandist, Russia, and the right-wing extremist talk show host Alex Jones.  I can’t fully express how disheartened I have been with all the misinformation and false propaganda that has been spread about the Free Syrian Army and their allies in Syria.  Between my fellow activist and myself I can’t tell you how much of our time was devoted to research just to disprove the lies and half-truths out there.

First and foremost let us clear one thing up the FSA and (IS, ISIS, ISIL) are not affiliated with each other in any way.  Moreover they are considered enemies to the FSA and they have fought them and their affiliates on the battlefield many times over the course of this war.  In recent times the Free Syrian Army has been having to focus more on fighting such extremist groups as those groups have expanded into suburbs and regions within Syria.  This has taken FSA’s and other more moderate forces’ focus off of Assad and allowed his regime to recapture more territory.  Worse yet at the same time groups like ISIS have also expanded their territory.  This has left the FSA and the more moderate of the Islamist groups caught in the middle fighting these two evils.  This is not to mention Iranian and Hezbollah fighters that have acted as mercenaries for the regime.  The moderate middle has been shrinking in Syria on the battlefield for some time as the two tyrannies of the regime and extremist have been gaining.  This has left the Free Syrian Army in the perilous position of being pursued and murdered by both sides of this dual tyranny.

The Free Syrian Army is the oldest, most organized, and professional army among the more moderate forces in Syria.  Notice I said more moderate, as moderate means different things to different people.  They have often teamed up on the battlefield with the more moderate of the Islamist groups fighting on the battlefield.  This was done for strategic purposes as ISIS and the regime are too powerful to be fought by the FSA alone.  Their size has been decreasing as they have been killed by the regime and extremist forces, Islamist groups have made gains in new young recruits, and finally some of the Free Syrian Army soldiers leaving the FSA to join mostly moderate Islamist forces.  Lets face it they have also been greatly neglected by the United States and other Western supporters, in spite of promises for large increases of assistance up until now.  This has been most unfortunate as the Free Syrian Army is the most pro-Western, secular, and moderate group fighting in Syria.  Though a more accurate portrayal may be more pro-Western, more secular, more moderate group among the more moderate groups in Syria.  The FSA is an army we should support in our effort in Syria as they are among the only friends we have in Syria.

None of this is to say to the FSA are boy scouts, they are battle hardened fighters who at times have crossed over ethical, moral, and legal lines.  Sure people can demonize them for this, but I ask them have not even our own Western troops crossed over some lines as well over the years?  Long, hard-fought wars, tend to test the nature of men and as we are all painfully aware that nature has a dark side.  I am in no way being an apologist for the Free Syrian Army nor have I ever been.  I have always held them to the same standard as any other foreign army.  That standard is there is something called basic human rights, international law, and the laws of war that must be adhered to as best as possible even in wartime.  When those standards are violated people and groups must be held to account and internationally criticized for those actions.  I have praised the FSA when I felt they deserved praise and have criticized them when I felt their actions deserved criticism.  I am in no way talking down to them, only mean to say I have not hesitated to speak truthfully my opinions about the Free Syrian Army.  Overall I see the Free Syrian Army as worthy of our support in spite of some of the wrongs they have committed in the past.

A significant minority in Syria are mostly pro-Western, quite secular, modestly liberal,  significantly pro-democracy, and basic human rights supporters that we in the West would prefer to work with.  I have met several who are of that minority in the course of my activism.  They were all under 35, spoke English well, intelligent, knowledgeable, polite, technologically savvy, and were very good at social networking and getting their message out.  I found them to be more mature than most in the West of the same age range.  I talked online to this one activist in Syria who I figured to be at least 30 judging by how well written, informed, intelligent, and mature she seemed.  She knew the situation in Syria as well as any expert I have heard on the subject.  Later she volunteered that she was 16.  I imagined before I was talking to some professional and long-time activist; it was surprising and unexpected.  She told me earlier she was living in Syria with her family, that her brother was killed, that Assad’s soldiers nearly raped her sister and her after they forced their way into her family’s home, and how she felt like crying everyday because of what was happening to everyone around her.  Thus when I learned she was only sixteen, her story broke my heart even more.  I talked to several other Syrians both still living in Syria and as refugees in surrounding Countries; all had a lot they had to overcome and all made an impression on me.  It opened up my eyes to how these younger Syrians were not that much different from younger people in the West.  At the same time much more mature and knowledgeable than most of their Western peers.  This showed me a face of Syria that is rarely shown in the media.  It also gave me hope for the future of Syria.

The idea that Syrians are mostly religious zealots, that hate America, and all things Western could not be further from the truth.  Even ISIS arguably the most anti-Western of all the groups in Syria is actively using Western technology and social networks to disseminate its message to the world.  Yes ISIL is using them for evil purposes, but the fact they are using them at all shows how much influence the West and it’s culture has in Syria even among the most extremist hardliners of the population.  As far as everyday Syrians you will find them all over the internet and social networks, many speaking English.  You will find some in person with cell phones, wearing t-shirts and jeans, watching Western media, and sounding not that different from many Westerners. The fact is groups like ISIS may be growing on the battlefield but they have support of only a small fraction of the Syrian population.  Most Syrians want the same thing we want in the West; to live, to be free, to love, to laugh, to cry, to be a human being.  My love for the Syrian people has only grown in time.  Their determination to go on in spite of all the evil and hardship that surrounds them every single day of their lives, has helped inspire me to go on.  They are an inspiration to myself and countless others around the world.  They deserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  They do not deserve the fate that has befallen them.  They deserve our respect, love, and support.  We must continue to help the Syrian people both in a humanitarian sense and militarily.  They have suffered too long, been ignored too long, have been forgotten when they needed us the most.  My only goal for supporting more action in Syria is for the people of Syria to have a better life.  Assad’s regime and ISIL: As long as they are hurting Syria and tearing it apart, there will never be peace in Syria.  Let us as a world finally help bring justice for Syria and the Syrian people and ultimately towards a chance of at least some peace.

Wishing For A Free Syria,

Alan Curtis Montgomery – Founder and Editor of The World Human Rights Blog

Obama, After Airstrikes in Syria, Says U.S. Will ‘Take the Fight’ to ISIS – NYTimes.com

The Civilian Cost Of War

The remains of a house that was reportedly hit by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in the village of Kfar Derian in Syria. Credit Sami Ali/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Air Strikes On ISIL

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday hailed the American-led coalition that conducted airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State, declaring, “We’re going to do what is necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group.”

Speaking on the South Lawn of the White House, just before leaving for New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Obama said American planes had also struck targets of another militant group, Khorasan, and declared that there would be “no safe haven” for the group, which officials say is linked to Al Qaeda and has been plotting attacks against Americans.

The United States already has bombed Islamic State targets in Iraq at that country’s request. But it did not seek permission to bomb the group in neighboring Syria.

The president emphasized that Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain had taken part in the air operation on Monday night.

“America is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these nations on behalf of our common security,” Mr. Obama said. “The strength of this coalition makes clear to the world that this is not just America’s fight alone.”

The expansion of military action to Syria, as leaders of 180 countries are gathering at the United Nations, is very likely to galvanize a meeting that was already going to be dominated by Mr. Obama’s efforts to build a coalition for the fight against the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Ahead of that meeting, the United States moved quickly to justify the aerial attacks as legal. The American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a letter that such attacks were permitted under a fundamental principle in the United Nations Charter that gives countries the right to defend themselves, including using force on another country’s territory when that country is unwilling or unable to address it.

“The Syrian regime has shown that it cannot and will not confront these safe havens effectively itself,” the letter states. “Accordingly, the United States has initiated necessary and proportionate military actions in Syria in order to eliminate the ongoing ISIL threat to Iraq, including by protecting Iraqi citizens from further attacks and by enabling Iraqi forces to regain control of Iraq’s borders. In addition the United States has initiated military actions in Syria against Al Qaida elements in Syria known as the Khorasan Group to address terrorist threats that they pose to the United States and our partners and allies.”

Mr. Obama said he would meet with leaders from several countries in an effort to “cut off ISIL’s financing, to counter its hateful ideology, and to stop the flow of fighters into the region.”

The participation of five Arab countries in the operation will bolster the president’s argument that this campaign does not pit the United States against the Sunni Muslim world, but rather a broad coalition of Sunni Muslim and Western countries against a Sunni extremist group.

The air attacks were said to have…

Read Much More And See Many More Images, Maps, Charts, And Videos @ Obama, After Airstrikes in Syria, Says U.S. Will ‘Take the Fight’ to ISIS – NYTimes.com.

US launches 1st airstrikes in Syria – SFGate [Breaking News!]

Copyright Uncredited, AP

FILE – In this undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State group, march in Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic State group will likely take center stage when more than 140 heads of state of government convene for the U.N. General Assembly the week of Sept. 22. Photo: Uncredited, AP

SURUC, Turkey (AP) — The United States and partner nations launched their first airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria, as fighting raged Monday between the extremist group and Kurdish forces near the border with Turkey, triggering a surge of tens of thousands of refugees.

The Pentagon said a mix of fighter jets, bombers and Tomahawk missiles fired from ships in the region targeted the Islamic State group. Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said that because the military operation is ongoing, no details could be provided yet. He said the decision to strike was made early Monday by the military.

The strikes are part of the expanded military campaign that President Barack Obama‘s authorized nearly two weeks ago in order to disrupt and destroy the Islamic State militants. The U.S. has already launched 190 airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq since an aerial campaign began Aug. 8.

As the fighting in Syria has moved closer to Turkey, the government is facing increasing pressure to step up efforts to take on the Islamic State extremists.

Turkey is resisting because it fears that arming Kurdish men to fight the group could complicate peace talks with Turkish insurgents within its own borders.

The Islamic State group’s offensive against the Syrian city of Kobani, a few miles from the border, has sent 130,000 refugees to seek safety in Turkey in the last few days. The conflict in Syria had already led to more than 1 million people flooding over the border in the past 3½ years.

But in addition to the refugee crisis, hundreds of Kurds in and around this city near the frontier have clashed with Turkish police, who fired tear gas and water cannons. The Kurds say Turkey is hampering their efforts to let them cross into Syria and help their brethren.

An 18-year-old Turkish citizen in Suruc said he wanted to join the Kurdish fighters in Syria. He identified himself only by his first name of Azam for fear of reprisal from authorities.

“The Islamic State is on the other side of the border and moving freely, slaughtering people, but they are just sitting and watching,” he said of the Turkish authorities.

“If I get a chance to get a weapon, I’ll go to help our brothers by end of the day,” he said. “Kobani is our land, too, and people there are our people.”

Syrian Kurdish fighters were crossing back and forth over the border, while other Syrian Kurds were seen selling livestock to raise money for weapons.

Not far away on the border, the black flag of the Islamic State could…

Read More US launches 1st airstrikes in Syria – SFGate.

Syria Reveals More Secret Chemical Weapons Facilities After Shunning Inspectors | Business Insider

Injured Syrian Girl

An injured child rests in a field hospital after what activists claim were at least five air strikes carried out by forces of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Douma, eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus September 11, 2014.

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Syria has revealed a previously undeclared research and development facility and a laboratory to produce the poison ricin to the global chemical weapons watchdog, diplomatic sources told Reuters.

Syria has detailed three new facilities to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as part of an ongoing review of the state’s toxic arsenal, three sources said.

The disclosures appeared to support assertions from Western governments in recent months that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad had not been fully transparent to the world body in detailing its chemical weapons program.

Damascus agreed last year to eliminate its entire chemical weapons program after a sarin attack on Aug. 21 killed hundreds of people in Ghouta, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Damascus.

Under the agreement reached with Washington and Moscow, which averted threatened U.S. military action, the Nobel Peace-prize winning OPCW is overseeing the destruction of 1,300 tonnes of chemical weapons that Syria declared to the Hague-based body.

Syria was supposed to have already destroyed all production, filling and storage facilities, but still has 12 cement hangars and underground bunkers. Those are due to be destroyed in the coming months.

The new disclosures described by diplomats came as part of an ongoing review of “discrepancies” in Syria’s initial OPCW declaration, which Britain and the United States have said they feared excluded some chemicals, notably sarin.

The risk that stray chemicals fall into the hands of hardline militants has grown with the spread of Islamic State forces, who have taken large swathes of Iraq and Syria since the summer.

Syria has never declared it had any sarin or the rockets used to kill more than 1,000 people and blamed the worst chemical weapons attack in a quarter century on insurgents.

Damascus disclosed dozens of sites to the OPCW last year, but has now told a team of inspectors about three more facilities.

One is a laboratory for the highly toxic ricin, the site of which Syrian officials said was inaccessible to inspectors due to ongoing fighting between insurgents and government forces, sources said.

A second diplomatic source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the ricin plant had been destroyed before Syria joined the OPCW.

At a third location “small amounts of experimental work” was done on chemical weapons development, two diplomatic sources in The Hague said.

OPCW officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

As part of joining the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, Damascus is prohibited from…

Read More Syria Reveals More Secret Chemical Weapons Facilities After Shunning Inspectors | Business Insider.

War may make hundreds of thousands of young Syrians stateless (Thomson Reuters Foundation)

Stateless Syrian Children

Syrian children play at Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria. Picture September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

THE HAGUE, Sept 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Hundreds of thousands of exiled Syrian children may become stateless because of the fighting in their country, putting them at risk of exploitation and potentially hindering their return home, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday.

High casualty rates and forcible separation mean a quarter of Syrian refugee families are headed by women, but Syrian law does not allow women to pass their nationality to their children.

“Syrian children acquire nationality exclusively through their fathers,” said Amit Sen, regional protection officer for the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR). “However the war in Syria has robbed hundreds of thousands of children of their fathers.”

Without identity documents children cannot access healthcare and education. In adolescence the lack of papers proving their age puts them at risk of early marriage, child labour, recruitment by armed forces and being trafficked.

“We already have very high levels of child marriage and child labour in the region, and we are introducing on top of this a generation of unpapered children who have no proof of status or age,” Sen said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the first global forum on statelessness, in The Hague, where 300 experts have gathered to discuss an issue affecting 10 million people worldwide.

Some three million Syrians have left as refugees and 3.5 million are displaced within the country. More than half of Syrian refugees are children, but many families were unable to register them before fleeing abroad.

Some 51,000 Syrian babies have been born in exile. Three quarters of those born in Lebanon have not been registered and experts believe…

Read More War may make hundreds of thousands of young Syrians stateless.

Raad Adayleh / The Associated Press A Syrian refugee boy attends class at the Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan. For him and other Syrian children traumatized by civil war, it's a chance to resume something of a settled life.

ISIS bans math, sport, social studies for children – The Times of India

DUBAI: Thousands of children in swaths of war-torn Syria, now controlled by dreaded Islamic State militants, can no longer study math or social studies under new diktats issued by the jihadists.

While sports is banned, the children will not be allowed to learn about elections and democracy.

Instead, the children will be subjected to the teachings of the radical Islamist group. And any teacher who dares to break the rules “will be punished.”

ISIS announced its new educational demands in fliers posted on billboards and on street poles, CNN reported.

The Sunni militant group has captured a slew of Syrian and Iraqi cities in recent months as it tries to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, spanning Sunni parts of both countries.

In the letter, ISIS said alternative courses will be added.

It also said teachers must erase the phrase Syrian Arab Republic, the official name of Syria, and replace it with Islamic State.

Educators cannot teach nationalistic and ethnic ideology and must instead…

Read More ISIS bans math, sport, social studies for children – The Times of India.