Open Letter (Britain): Left activists call on Jeremy Corbyn to speak out on Syria

An open letter to the Leader of the Labour Party from concerned Labour Party members, Momentum activists and socialists. To add your name, please email speakoutonsyria


Dear Jeremy,

We write as members of the Labour Party and Momentum, as socialist activists, or as other supporters of your leadership of the Labour Party. We agree wholeheartedly with your opposition to militarism and nuclear weapons, and your call for an end to British arms exports to countries such as Saudi Arabia. Yet we are concerned by your silence – thus far – on the ongoing slaughter of civilians by Russian and Assad-regime forces in Syria.

We share your scepticism about kneejerk military responses to the situation in Syria, such as the bombing campaign against ISIS proposed by David Cameron last autumn. We are not asking you to back Western interventions of this kind, but simply to say clearly and unequivocally that the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria are barbaric war crimes, and that you will seek to end them, and to hold their perpetrators to account.

We applaud your efforts, over decades, to end the crimes of brutal regimes supported by Western powers. But we do not believe that this exhausts the duties of anti-imperialists, socialists and peace activists in Western countries. The fact that Assad is supported not by the USA or Britain, but by Russia and Iran, does not make his crimes any less horrific, or the political future he represents for the people of Syria any less dismal. Nor does it mean that Western political leaders are powerless in acting to oppose these crimes.

We know only too well that there are those in the anti-war movement who will denounce any move critical of Russia, Iran, or Assad as tantamount to support for Western imperialist intervention. We also know that there are those on the right of British politics who will claim any such move as a concession to their policy of militaristic grandstanding. The debate on Syria has been polarised between these two positions – scrupulous “non-intervention” in the face of massive carnage enabled by Russian intervention, versus support for bombing campaigns as part of a Western “war on terror”. We have all been asked to take up a position in these terms. But the terms are false.

We appreciate your concern not to lend support to right-wing calls for fruitless bombing campaigns. But in the face of the horrors being perpetrated across Syria, with impunity, and above all by Russian and Assad-regime forces, we believe socialists and anti-war activists cannot simply look on in silence. We ask that you condemn, clearly and specifically, the actions of Assad and Russia in Syria, which have caused the overwhelming majority of civilian deaths and which present the biggest obstacle to any workable solution to the Syrian crisis.

We also urge you to lend your wholehearted support to practical measures to support civilians and pressure the regime to end its attacks, such as airdrops of aid to besieged civilians by British military forces. Guaranteeing delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians is not only a way to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people at risk of disease and starvation. It is also a non-violent and humanitarian way to pressure the regime into a negotiated political solution to the conflict, by undermining a key part of its strategy: the “kneel or starve” campaigns deployed against opposition areas since 2013. “Food not bombs” should be the rallying cry, not “Hands off Syria”, which only gives the Assad regime and Russia carte blanche to continue with their slaughter.

Failure to act on this issue now threatens to undermine practically and politically much of the work done over many years by the anti-war movement. The legacy of yourself and the anti-war movement over Syria must not be one of silence and inaction in the face of such momentous atrocities.

Yours fraternally,

Peter Hill, Oxford University UCU Hon. Secretary (personal capacity), Oxford and District Labour Party and Momentum

Mark Boothroyd, Unite Health National Industrial Sector Committee (personal capacity), Camberwell and Peckham CLP

James Nowlan, Labour Party and Momentum member

Luke Cooper, academic and campaigner

Andy Forse, Oxford Labour Party, Momentum National Committee

Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism, founder member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Mike Rowley, Labour City Councillor for Barton, Sandhills and North-East Headington (Oxford)

Adam Ramsay, journalist

Chris Fox, Wimbledon CLP, Thee Faction member

Ben Towse, UCL Labour Campaigns Officer, Hornsey & Wood Green CLP

Sheila Ramsay, Chair, Chester CLP

Christopher Roche, Bath UCU Vice President (personal capacity), Bath Trades Union Council President (personal capacity), Bristol West CLP

Genevieve Murray-Dinsmore, Women’s Officer for Croydon North CLP

Becky Boumelha, Labour Campaign Against Prevent

Ashley Inglis, member of the Labour Party and Stop the War Coalition

Mark Price, Labour Party member, Momentum member (Welsh Labour Grassroots) and Community Councillor for Croesyceiliog

Chris Strafford, Communications Officer, University of Manchester UNISON

Vijay Jackson, Hastings and Rye CLP, Scottish Labour Young Socialists, Treasurer, Momentum Edinburgh, BAME Officer, Edinburgh Labour Students
William R Rolfe, Labour and Momentum member, Branch Secretary PCS Revenue and Customs South East Valuation Branch

Catriona Bass

Carol Cody, UCU Committee Sec. City of Liverpool College, UCU NW Women’s Equality Rep.

Glyn Harries, Hackney South CLP member, Hackney Momentum Officer (personal capacity), Joint Sec. Hackney Trades Union Council (personal capacity)

Simon Hewitt, Leeds Central CLP, Momentum regional committee (personal capacity), LRC national committee (personal capacity), UCU

David Osler, chair, Shacklewell Branch Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP, Labour Representation Committee national committee, Labour Briefing editorial board (all personal capacity)

Sacha Ismail, on behalf of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty

Dan La Botz, Co-Editor of New Politics

Roz Kaveney, novelist and poet

Rosie Warren, editor of Salvage, Camden Momentum member

Jamie Allinson

Bill MacKeith, member of Labour Party, Momentum, National Union of Journalists

Liz Peretz, Labour Party and Momentum member, Oxford

Lisa Dempster, Unison Knowsley branch and National disabled members committee, Momentum member

Patrick Murphy, NUT Executive member for West Yorkshire

Gerard Colgan, Leeds West CLP, Leeds Momentum Steering Committee (personal capacity), BAFWU

Cllr Jonathan Timbers, Hebden Royd Town Council, Calder Valley CLP, Member of Independent Labour Publications (ILP)

Barry Buitekant, Labour councillor, Haggerston Ward, Hackney

Lynne Segal, Birkbeck College, University of London

Stephen Cowden, Chair, Coventry University UCU Branch, Warwick & Leamington Labour Party member

Merlin Gable, Monmouth CLP

Andy Wilson, Hackney CLP

Steven Ellis, Streatham CLP

Alison Lord, Walthamstow CLP

Tony Aldis, Labour Party and Momentum member

Kris Stewart, Socialist activist

Neil Rogall, member of rs21 and UCU

Brian Parkin, member of rs21 and UCU, University of Leeds

Tom Cutterham, Labour Party, Momentum and UCU member, University of Birmingham

Miriyam Aouragh, University of Westminster, rs21, Oxford Solidarity for Syria

Bethan Jones, Labour Party and Momentum member

Max Leak, Labour and Momentum member

Gary Budgen, Walthamstow CLP

Tom Travers, Labour Party member

Sam Doherty, Manchester Momentum

Kat Burdon-Manley, rs21 member, Unison

Emily McDonagh, Unite

Ed McNally

Barnaby Raine

Christopher Ford, Walthamstow Constituency Labour Party

Edd Mustill, Liverpool Riverside CLP and Momentum member

Tom Harris, Lewisham West and Penge CLP, Lewisham Young Labour

Christian Hill, Socialist Activist

Jaskiran Kaur Chohan, Labour Party and Momentum Member

Lynton North, Torridge & West Devon CLP / Momentum

Hannah Fox, Labour Party member

Omar Raii, Hornsey & Wood Green CLP

Tom Dale, Labour Party member, Hackney South & Shoreditch

Pete Radcliff, Broxtowe Momentum

Nathan Roberts, Lambeth Momentum

Sue Shaw, Labour and Momentum member, Henley CLP

Susan Pashkoff

Daniel Nichols, Romford CLP

Nick Hostettler, Streatham CLP, Lambeth Momentum

Phil Vellender, Hackney Labour Party, UCU HE member, Senior Lecturer

Tom Davies, Walthamstow CLP, NUJ member and LRC member

Les Hearn, Holborn & St Pancras CLP, NUT member

Gabriel Pogrund

David Moynihan, Hackney Labour Party

Pete Firmin, Hampstead & Kilburn CLP and Momentum member

Jane Connor, Walthamstow West Labour Party

Sheen Gleeson, Hackney

Vivien Green

Mags Gainsborough

Tony Benson

Stephen Wood, Hayes & Harlington CLP, Hillingdon LG Unison

Nicholas Sebley, Labour Party member and Corbyn voter

Hannah Davies, Labour supporter

Mark Coulter, Hull, East Yorkshire

Damian Walenta

Andrew Spink, Labour Party member, West Yorkshire

Andy Morgan, Worcester

Javaad Alipoor, Theatre maker and activist

Joey Ayoub, member of the Labour Party, SOAS Syrian Society and SOAS Palestine Society, MENA editor at Global Voices and blogger at Hummus For Thought

Lily Marchant, Labour Party Member

Bob Wood, Leeds Central CLP

Dan Jeffery, Lambeth Labour, Momentum, UNISON

Iti Teder

Janice Chalmers

Natalie Sedacca, human rights lawyer

Valerie Leyland, Broxtowe CLP

Catriona Bass

Diana Neslen

Robert Tollemache

Juliette Harkin, Labour member and Doctoral Researcher, University of East Anglia

Ian Brownlie, Labour Party member & socialist

Mary Holmes, Labour Party member, Twickenham

Geoff Ryan, Brynaman, Carmarthenshire

Fred Leplat, Socialist Resistance

Joe Baxter, Labour Party member

Lee Berry, Labour Party, Momentum & Unite member, Corbyn voter & activist

Ian Land, Hastings and Rye Labour CLP

Charles Brown, Labour Party, UCU

Steve Eason, rs21, NUJ

Adam Di Chiara, rs21, NUJ

Mary Dinan

John Riches, Labour Party and Momentum member, Brighton

Sam Richardson, Labour Party member, Lewisham West and Penge

David Paterson, Loughborough Labour Party member

Aditya Sarkar, Labour Party and Momentum member; Warwick University UCU member

Sarah Martin, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour supporter

Alison Down, Writer, Activist, Labour Party member

Laura Schwartz, Warwick university UCU, Leamington and Warwick Labour Party

Andrew Scott-Bolton, Labour Party member & Corbyn supporter

Russell Inglis, Labour Party member

Vanda Buxton, Labour Member, Bury South CLP

Beverley Buxton, Labour Party member and Momentum member

Keith Price

Gregory Schwartz, member of the Labour Party

Jo Morales, writer and activist

Alan F. Fogelquist

Jim Denham, member of Selly Oak, Birmingham CLP and Unite

Dr. Steffan Wyn-Jones, academic and member of the Labour Party

Robert Williams, Labour Party member, Aberystwyth

Rime Hadri

Graham Askey, Labour Party member

Sarah Khatun-Miah

Chris Pepler

Sadiq Miah

Shafla Khatun

Liza Begum

Anthony Pall

Aryaan Miah

Niki Dean, member of the Labour Party

Richard Kuper, Camden CLP and Momentum member

Francis McDonagh, Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP

Janine Booth, Hackney Momentum

Winmarie Greenland, NUT and Barnet Momentum

John Milne, Labour Party Member

Alex MacDonald, journalist

Dominique Villaret

Margaret Green, human rights activist

Mattia Indi Gerin

Tanner Akif

Tamara Al-Om, PhD student, Centre for Syrian Studies, University of St Andrews

Hana El-Sbahi

Duncan Chapel

Rima Majed

Zack Murrell-Dowson, Bristol North-West CLP

Maha Rahwanji

Joseph Daher, Swiss/Syrian socialist activist and blogger, Lausanne

David Waddilove

Liam J Liburd, Sheffield Hallam CLP and Momentum Sheffield

Shane Draper, Labour Party member, Humanist

Kaley Clark

Nick Duggan, Hallam CLP

Helen Glazier, Sheffield Hallam CLP

Sorcha Thomson, Middle Eastern Studies student, University of Oxford

Joseph M. Cachia, Malta

Keith Dobie, GMB and Labour Party member

Anna Pollert

Zoe Salanitro, Selly Oak CLP (Birmingham)

Angela Hull, Nuneaton

Cor Baas

Hugh Tollyfield, Fulwood Branch Labour Party

Hannah Roques, Edinburgh Central CLP

Fergal Kinney, Islington North

Andy Lockhart, Sheffield Central CLP and Sheffield Momentum

Dina Halawani

Vaughan Melzer, Hornsey Labour Party & Corbyn voter

Pascale de Rotrou

Laura Tennant, Labour Party member

Sheffield Heeley Labour and Unison member (both in personal capacity)

Matthew Sturgess

Alan Story, socialist

Miranda Pennell, Labour party member

Máire Davies (Dr.), Cardiff West CLP

Liam Murphy, Socialist, Labour Member

Miles Curtis Watson, Labour member, Unite (personal capacity)

Belinda Beasley, Labour Party member, Sheffield

Bernard Sufrin, Independent Socialist, fundraiser for Syrian Refugee Students

Kate Tunstall, UCU HE member, Oxford

Brian Slocock

Dave Parks, Socialist, Exeter

Ed Armston, Hackney North and Stoke Newington

Kit Habianic, author Until Our Blood is Dry (Parthian Books)

Roger Welch, Portsmouth CLP

Frances Pilling, socialist, Portsmouth

Andrew Coates, Ipswich Labour Party and Unite activist

Alan Thomas, Labour Party member, West Midlands

Geoff Wilson, Labour Party member, Momentum member, North Staffordshire

Stephanie David, Bexleyheath & Crayford CLP, Labour Representation Committee (both personal capacity)

Naomi Lopez, Labour Party member & Peace Activist

Gavin Edwards, Walthamstow Labour and Momentum

Mike Pearn, Labour Party and Momentum member

Steve Thompson, Labour Party member

Dot Walker, Maldon CLP

Jayne Egerton, Lewisham Deptford CLP

Mandy Merck, University and College Union

Jill Hughes, Labour Party member

Daniel Randall, expelled member, Islington South and Finsbury CLP, RMT London Transport Regional Council Young Members’ Officer

Max Farrar, socialist, Leeds, UK

David Morgan, Consultant Psychotherapist

Shakuntala Banaji, Associate Professor, UCU and Labour Party member

Margaret Phelan

Isabella Ramsay, Photographer and Art Psychotherapist

Katharine Halls, Labour Party member