What does a U.S.-based antiwar movement look like that has deep connections across the country and around the world? That is agile and responsive under systems of settler colonialism, under authoritarian systems, and towards refugees and migrants whose bodies are on the line between borders? That dismantles systems of oppression in the United States and builds power around people’s struggle for self-determination?
These are the questions I’ve asked myself for the past six years as a Houstonian born in the United States to parents from Homs, Syria. Today I’m writing to you as WRL’s newest staff member because WRL is asking these questions too, and together, we’re finding answers. But, we need you to keep the work going -- can you support by making a generous gift today?
For the past six years I’ve worked to build deep connections with Syrians and Syria allies across borders, organize my own Syrian community in Houston around Syrian revolutionary principles, and work with a national network of students to create scholarships for displaced Syrians and other refugee students in higher education. I committed myself to this transnational work for many reasons, but at the core it was to honor my family and community -- my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins have all been impacted by Syria’s conflict, either through having their homes bombed, family members detained without due process (essentially disappeared), or made refugees.
I first came into contact with WRL when I attended a WRL workshop called Resisting Airwars: A Diaspora-Led Antiwar Movement in spring of 2018. The room was filled with diaspora representing many countries, from Syria to Palestine to Yemen to Pakistan to Iraq, and we went through a discussion and presentation that connected the ways in which U.S. Airwars were affecting our homelands. This was the first time I had been in a room like this, where so many narratives were being told authentically and with care to locals in our homelands from an antiwar lens. The power in the room was palpable.
WRL is one of the few organizations in the antiwar space that does the important work of powerfully centering people like my family, who not only bear the brunt of trauma caused by war, but also hold key insights about the way forward. Can you donate today to support the vital work WRL does to uplift the voices of people who are directly impacted by war in antiwar spaces?
Working as a Free Syria advocate from the United States alongside Syrian activists in Syria and around the world underscored some key ideas for me:
- People in the United States can do much better on listening to voices from locals around the world, and recognizing varying power dynamics locals may find themselves in.
- People in the United States can do better to recognize both the manifestations of U.S. imperialism and the multiple imperial actors around the world: from Russia to Iran to China to India.
- The revolution is in the way we build relationships with ourselves and each other. Our struggle is to build healthier people and communities, and in this way we combat militarism by offering something better.
Today, I’m excited to imagine new ways of solving these problems as the Communications Coordinator for War Resisters League. Good, effective communication is the glue that binds together movements and communities, and radical communication requires radical listening and relationship building.
That’s the work WRL is already doing, and that I’m now excited to be a part of, but we still have so much work ahead of us. My position at WRL is made possible by gifts that come from people like you, for which I am so grateful. I hope you’ll respond to this letter with a generous donation so we can continue growing our capacity to resist war in the ways that matter most.
I believe in the power and promise of War Resisters League: as one of the oldest antiwar organizations in the United States, WRL has a long history of confronting U.S. militarism and is in a position to raise the standard for internationalism within and outside of the United States. I look forward to continuing this work with you!
Shiyam Galyon is a Syrian American writer and public speaker who speaks to people across the country about the Syrian Revolution and how it relates to the United States. She is a political advocate with the Syrian Women’s Political Movement (a multi-national network of Syrian feminists within Syria and around the world advocating for political justice for all Syrians). Shiyam joined WRL’s staff as the Communications Coordinator in September 2019.