April 12-15, 2018 representatives of IFOR's branches from Austria, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy, Wales, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, and The Netherlands gathered in Turin, Italy for the annual meeting of the European branches known as the EUFOR. They were joined by IFOR's UN Representatives in Geneva, and its representatives to UNESCO as well as a special guest, Maricely Parada, of the Action for Conscientious Objection (ACOC) in Colombia.
On April 14th, The United States, Britain, and France launched air strikes against Syria in retaliation for the suspected chemical weapons attack. The delegates to the EUFOR meeting held a silent circle in Turin's main square honoring the victims of war and making a stand for peace and nonviolence. They drafted and released the following statement in response to the air strikes:
Statement of the EUFOR meeting in Torino, April 12-15, 2018
Retaliatory strikes on Syria were condemned today by a meeting in Torino of the European branches of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.
We deplore the use of chemical weapons which contravenes international law. However, international law also condemns the use of force on a nation state without the prior authorisation of the United Nations. Two wrongs do not make a right.
Instead of unilateral action, the investigation by the United Nations should have been allowed to run its course.The air-strikes will simply have compromised the evidence needed to bring those responsible for the use of chemical weapons to account.
The way of violence will only kill more people in Syria.Hundreds of thousands of people (mainly civilians)have already been killed, millionsforced to become refugees. The strikes will not lead to a peaceful settlement.
History teachesus the importance of turningaway from all forms of violence and seekingthe way of peace and reconciliationin Syria and everywhere else.
War destroys –peace builds up.
War separates –peace brings together.
War drops bombs –peace works through dialogue and confidence-building.
War produces victims and enemies –peace creates community and friendship.
War is not the way –nonviolence is the way.
We are convinced that only active nonviolence can achieve peace.
That needs all our joint efforts and strength.