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While supporting Ukraine, don’t forget other conflicts

PC(USA) Washington office urges US to consistently call for respect of international law

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

LEXINGTON, Kentucky ­— The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness (OPW) says the United States and its allies are right in their resolve to hold the Russian government of Vladimir Putin accountable for violating international human rights and humanitarian law in its invasion of Ukraine.

“The international community has, for the most part, supported Ukrainian efforts to resist Russian military aggression; supported the steps to receive refugees and provide for their needs; imposed targeted sanctions against Russia, its commercial outlets, its banks, and its leaders; and implemented commercial and cultural boycotts of Russian products, as well as companies that operate in Russia,” an Action Alert from the Capitol Hill office says. “Many Russians have also courageously opposed this military action. And, the international community must avoid demonizing the Russian people, even as it strongly opposes the actions of the Russian government.”

The Office just wants the U.S. and its allies to do the same in other countries where international law has been violated.

“In some situations, in the Middle East, such aggression has been and continues to be abetted and not opposed,” says the alert, which asks people to contact the White House and their congressional representatives to urge them to be consistent in upholding international law and human rights.

Situations OPW cites are:

  • Yemen, cited by the World Food Program as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, where more than 16 million Yemenis are on the verge of starvation due to a war instigated by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and supported by the U.S. and Canada.
  • Syria, where an 11-year war supported by various outside powers has displaced more than half the country’s population, with 7 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries.
  • Palestine, where “Israel’s decades-long illegal acquisition, occupation, and annexation of Palestinian land have resulted in more than 5 million refugees whose rights remain disrespected or ignored,” the alert says, adding, “boycotts and sanctions to hold Israel accountable have been deemed illegitimate or even made illegal. Palestinian non-violent resistance, unlike that in Ukraine, has been ridiculed and delegitimized.

“Contact your elected officials and urge them to apply principles of international law and human rights consistently so that every person — especially victims of war, violence, and oppression —are treated with equal dignity and respect,” says the alert, which provides links and suggested text for contacting officials.

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and Office of Public Witness are Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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