On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I express my deep concern in this time of conflict for the people of Syria from every background and belief. I appeal to all parties in the Syrian Arab Republic to renounce violence at once, and to re-dedicate themselves and their country to the pursuit of dialogue, healing and peace.

In the wake of so many deaths, it is particularly urgent that the army and government security agencies cease the indiscriminate use of force, ensuring the citizens’ rights to free assembly and expression, pursuit of political progress and basic human dignity. All governments have an obligation to protect the lives and dignity of their citizens, and to protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

From the government and on all sides there has been a stated desire for national reform. Now is the time to end the violence and enter a process of dialogue leading to democratic change.

At the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation, convened by the World Council of Churches in May 2011, in Kingston, Jamaica, more than 1,000 participants included these words in their message to the world:

“With partners of other faiths, we have recognized that peace is a core value in all religions, and the promise of peace extends to all people regardless of their traditions and commitments.”

It is in that spirit that we call upon all who have been caught in the tragic cycle of confrontation within Syria: Stop the violence and killing. Seek a just peace for all.

May God bless Syria, and heal the wounds of the nation.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary
World Council of Churches