June 2017 Newsletter

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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS: 

  • On June 15, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed bipartisan sanctions on Russia and Iran, directly hindering their support of the Assad regime, by a vote of 97-2. The Syrian American community has worked for months to bring sanctions against Russia and Iran for their war crimes in Syria. The Coalition for a Democratic Syria (CDS) advocacy day last March was instrumental in influencing members of Congress to pass this bill. To read more about how this piece of legislation will help Syria, click here. 
  • The #BlacklistIRGC campaign was launched this month to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its affiliated militias in Syria and throughout the region as a foreign terrorist organization. SAC is a proud supporter of the social media campaign, and we are consistently advocating for the blacklist with members of Congress... Read more here.
  • We are happy to announce that the Syria Caucus is growing! Thanks to the hard work by many advocates in D.C. and constituents around the US, we are now at 16 members including:
    • Co-Chair Adam Kinzinger, R-IL
    • Co-Chair Brendon Boyle, D-PA
      1. Carlos Curbelo, R-FL
      2. Alex Mooney, R-W.VA
      3. André Carson, D-IN
      4. Steve Chabot, R-OH
      5. Mike Coffman, R-CO
      6. Seth Moulton, D-MA
      7. Susan Brooks, R-IN
      8. Mark Meadows, R-NC 
      9. Debbie Dingell, D-MI
      10. Pete Sessions, R-TX
      11. Alcee Hastings, D-FL
      12. Dan Kildee, D-MI 
      13. Ann Wagner, R-MO
      14. Darin Lahood, R-IL
      15. Steve Stivers, R-OH
      16. Mike Ghallagher, R-WI 
  • If your representative is not on this list please reach out to their office and ask that they become members! Click here to read more and take action!
    • More information on the Syria Caucus:
      • The first of its kind ever in Congress, the Syria Caucus will serve as a platform where lawmakers and their staff educate themselves on matters involving US-Syria relations and discuss issues that concern Syrian Americans. We look forward to this bipartisan institution to support and advocate for legislative measures and policy options needed to end the bloodshed in Syria.

PUBLIC RELATIONS:
  • OP-EDS
  • PRESS RELEASES
    • The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released a report confirming the use of a nerve agent in the Khan Sheikhun Chemical Massacre of April 2017…. Read more here.
    • Over 200,000 civilians are still trapped in Raqqah as U.S.-back Syrian Democratic Forces close in… UN investigators have documented at least 300 civilian deaths in Raqqah due to Coalition airstrikes since March… Read more here.
    • Senate Passes Iran and Russia Sanctions Bill… Read more here.
    • SAC is proud to support the #BlacklistIRGC campaign… Read more here.
  • PANEL DISCUSSIONS
    • We were honored to participate on June 19 in New America’s World Refugee Day: Where we are Globally and Locally. Sohaib Alagha, SAC’s chairman of the board,  joined the panel and shared SAC’s vision of a Syria that would provide a safe haven to its citizens, one where Syrians did not have to flee and become refugees. Al-Agha also spoke of SAC’s general goals, achievements, and vision and mission. On the panels were also other distinguished guests from several Syrian-American organizations including ARCS, Karam Foundation, and Americans for a Free Syria. Click here to watch Sohaib, starting at 1:19:50.
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CHAPTER UPDATES:

  • Our trip to Detroit in mid-June to establish a SAC Michigan chapter was a most successful time spent with a gracious community. The community is energetic and ready for SAC’s work.  We met with entrepreneurs, doctors, and college students that make-up an active Syrian-American community. One of our meetings took place at the new Damas Cuisine in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The owners have created what feels like a piece of Syria all packaged in one place. More to come on this restaurant in future newsletters.
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  • Our Southern and Northern California chapters held their annual Ramadan fundraising activities in partnership with two humanitarian organizations, Sawasia and Sunrise Foundation.  The best part of these events is in seeing Syrians come together to connect and give for a just cause.  
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  • Our Chicago chapter also held a donation and membership drive, generating awareness of the Syrian conflict and collecting memberships.

GRASSROOTS:

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  • SAC PRESIDENT VISITS WITH SYRIAN ORPHANS

    • Syrian children are some of the main drivers of our work. Securing a free and democratic Syria for them is a priority. Connecting with them now is a privilege. Mirna Barq, SAC’s President, did that last month when she traveled to Istanbul to spend time with a group of Syrian orphans.  This is a habitual trip for her as the school is one of the projects she has sponsored over the last few years. "Visiting them regularly and working with them reminds me that we need to consistently improve our ways to secure a safe future for them.”
    • We thank, Mirna, for being an exemplary Syrian-American woman for her support of her Syrian and American communities. She makes weaving between her Syria work, her Chili cook-offs for her Orlando community, and her engineering career seem completely effortless.
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  • SAC HOSTS HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR
    • On June 19, SAC hosted a private lunch with Marione and Daniel Ingram. Marione is a Holocaust survivor, civil rights activist, and the author of The Hands of War: A Tale of Endurance and Hope, and The Hands of Peace: A Holocaust Survivor’s Fight for Civil Rights. Marione spoke with SAC members on her concerns for the future of humanity, and her fears for those still left in Syria. She recognizes the similarities of what Syrians are facing today and what she faced so many years ago; She says it’s what keeps her up at night. SAC is currently working on a project with Marione to spread awareness about the war and injustices happening in Syria. Watch this space for future updates.
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  • SAC HOSTS FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF RAVDA NUR FOUNDATION
    • On the same day, SAC also hosted Ravda Nur Cuma, the founder, and president of Ravda Nur Foundation. Cuma is a young Syrian refugee woman, who fled to a refugee camp in Turkey at 15 years of age. Because of her activism and volunteer work in the camp, she was recognized by the Turkish government and received the Turkish citizenship, a feat that enables her current work.  The Ravda Nur Foundation works directly inside Syria with displaced Syrians providing them with educational and vocational tools to sustain themselves and even initiate their own businesses. 
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GET INVOLVED:
  • If you are interested in joining overseas missions to work with Syrian refugees, reach out to us and let us know.  We are currently working on setting up two missions in the fall and next spring!
  • SAC is looking for hard-working graphic designers, communications, and PR interns. If you are interested in applying, please email us at info@sacouncil.com


SOCIAL MEDIA:
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Syrian American Council
http://www.sacouncil.com/