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April 03, 2012

Syria's Mandella accepts Annan Plan

April 03, 2012

April 03, 2012

Riyad Al-Turk, known as Syria's Mandella accepted Annan's Plan, according to statement published by AFP.
Al-Turk, an SNC member, who spent many years in Assads prisons, and is now in hiding inside Syria, has said that his acceptance of the plan stems from his national responsibility as a representative of Syrian Opposition inside Syria (thus making a distinction with the adamant opposition in exile).

Al-Turk, 81, spent 18 years in Syrian prisons, from 1980 till 1998, under terrible conditions. He was tortured, and lived many years of solitary confinement. Ali Atassi, a Syrian film-maker, made a film, Ibn el-Am, about Al-Turk's life and prison years. He is widely respected, and known as "Syria's Mandella".

Here is the statement translated by NOW LEBANON:

Syrian opposition figure Riyad Turk urged on Tuesday support for Kofi Annan's peace plan as he called for a national dialogue in Syria, but insisted that President Bashar al-Assad must first step down.
The "need to put an end to the cycle of killings and massacres... urges us to accept Kofi Annan's plan," said Turk, a member of the Syrian National Council, whose leaders have not yet given a clear stance on the UN-Arab League envoy's peace proposal.
Annan on Monday told the UN Security Council that Assad had accepted an April 10 deadline to start implementing his peace plan calling for an end to violence.
"A political solution... must first and foremost start with the president giving up power, and launching a national dialogue that does not exclude any political component of the Syrian people, including regime members whose hands were not stained by blood," Turk said in a statement to AFP.
Turk, 82, and nicknamed "Mandela of Syria", said that "by this, we are placing the international community in front of their responsibilities to protect" the people in Syria.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 10,000 people have been killed since the anti-Assad uprising began in mid-March last year. The United Nations puts the toll at more than 9,000.
A dialogue will finally lead to "an independent transitional government that will transform the country over a defined timeframe into a national democratic system through electing a constituent assembly, under Arab and international supervision, that will elect a [new] president," said Turk.
Turk, who now lives in hiding in Syria, was jailed for more than 17 years by late president Hafez al-Assad, father of the current leader who also put him behind bars.
He is a prominent member of the Damascus Declaration coalition of opposition activists formed in 2005.


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