The Damascus Declaration (Arabic: إعلان دمشق) was a statement of unity by Syrian opposition figures issued in October 2005. It criticized the Syrian government as "authoritarian, totalitarian and cliquish," and called for "peaceful, gradual," reform "founded on accord, and based on dialogue and recognition of the other."
The five-page document, unveiled at an unauthorized press conference, was signed by more than 250 "major opposition figures" as well as parties "both secular and religious, Arab and Kurdish." It was considered important that the statement included the Muslim Brotherhood group of Syria, in addition to secular groups. The statement called for a "fair solution for the Kurdish issue in Syria in a way insures the equality of Kurds with all other Syrian citizens".
Syrian journalist and activist Michel Kilo launched the declaration, after the Syrian writer and thinker Abdulrazak Eid had written its first draft. Riad Seif, another democracy activist, was the first signatory. The "five small opposition groups" signing the declaration were the Arab nationalist National Democratic Rally, the Kurdish Democratic Alliance, the Committees of Civil Society, the Kurdish Democratic Front and the Movement of the Future.
Twelve members of the Damascus Declaration National Council were sentenced to two and a half years in prison in October 2008. According to a leaked March 2009 diplomatic cable, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad responded to a comment by U.S. Senator Cardin that he could give "specific examples of citizens jailed for their political views" by saying that "we are a country in process of reform. We aren't perfect. You are talking about 12 people out of 20 million. It's a process. We are moving forward, not fast, but methodically." He said that the members had been convicted for their "contact with an individual in Lebanon who had invited the U.S. to attack Syria. This is against our law." In response to Senator Cardin's suggestion that Syria adhere to international standards, Asad chuckled in reply "You do not see this (international standards) anywhere in the region," comparing the situation of half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria and saying that "if he were working against his people, he would not enjoy such popularity."
- Wright, Robin, Dreams and shadows, the Future of the Middle East, Penguin Press, 2008, p.232-4
- Syriancomment, May 15, 2006
- Opposition Groups Issue 'Damascus Declaration' for a Regime Change