With Syrian protests turning increasingly violent in recent days, dissidents have been gathering for a conference in Antalya to discuss a representative body that will draw international attention to the uprising. A discussion has already fueled up some of the Syrian opposition over the meeting, which will select a “transitional council” to represent the Syrian revolution on the international scene.
Syrian opposition groups will be meeting for three days in Antalya, from May 31 to June 2, in a conference organized by the Egypt-based National Organization of Human Rights, or NOHR.
The meeting would be centered on establishing “a temporary national council to manage the crisis and mobilize all the possible support to protect the lives of the unarmed civilians who are exposed to the worst kinds of oppression” by the Syrian regime, the invitation statement of the conference “Change in Syria” reads.
“We have come with the idea of convening a national Syrian conference that aims to launch workshops that include all Syrians of different ethnicities, sects and political affiliations,” to concentrate the activity of all Syrians, the statement said.
The conference would “assign experts in the Syrian law to prepare a new draft constitution that guarantees the standards of full citizenship, equality in rights and duties of all the components of the Syrian community as a prelude to organize free and fair elections,” it said.
The signatories of the declaration of the conference “refuse all forms of foreign military intervention in this crisis,” the statement added.
Ahead of the meeting, objections to establishing a “transitional council” has emerged among Syrian opposition. Setting up a transitional council at this stage “would mean a prison or death sentence” for anyone who participates from inside Syria, with a continued military crackdown against demonstrations and assaults on cities, Walid al-Bunni, a veteran opposition figure told Reuters last week.
The participants in previous Syrian opposition meetings in Istanbul, organized by the Istanbul Platform in April, including various Turkish non-governmental organizations such as the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples, or Mazlum-Der, was mostly from Islamic-rooted groups such as Muslim Brotherhood.
The Antalya meeting was set to bring together dissidents from the Syrian opposition of a different profile: mostly exiled Syrians in European countries and the U.S.
Representatives of Kurdish movements in Syria, such as the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria, or KDP-S, the Kurdish Leftist Party in Syria, the Kurdish Azadi Party, the Kurdish Future Movement, are also invited.
“The Syrian opposition meeting in Antalya does not consist of genuine representatives of the people,” Ribal Al-Assad, the director of the Organization for Democracy and Freedom in Syria, said in a statement on Friday.
“Moreover they are individuals who promote extremism or sectarianism, which has no place on the path to freedom and democracy,” he stated. “Playing the sectarian card is not what the Syrian people want and it could only destabilize the country and lead to chaos and not reform.”
“So it is imperative that these individuals and their evil agenda is exposed to the international community,” Al-Assad said.