Burnley faith, political and community groups write to prime minister Rishi Sunak with concerns over Israel Gaza conflict
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Among the signatories was the leader of Burnley Borough Council, Coun. Afrasiab Anwar, who said that the letter was written by concerned members of the community including input from community groups and faith groups.
The letter has also been sent to the Conservative MPs of Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn, as well as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
It stated the need of the government to help bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict, in light of an “unprecedented human catastrophe” and protect the innocent civilian population across the region.
The letter states:
You have the power to save lives across Israel and Gaza. As community, civic, religious and charity organisations operating in East Lancashire, we write on behalf of our constituents, who, like us, are deeply saddened by the loss of innocent lives in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. The images and reports coming from the region have filled our hearts with grief and concern.
In response to this crisis and in our respective roles, we have been engaging people across Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn. Together, we stand united against terrorism, hatred and violent extremism.
The people of Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn are gravely worried aboutthe unfolding humanitarian situation in Gaza and have approached us seeking answers.
This is not a time for party politics, but our three Conservative Members of Parliament must make their position clear as members of the Government, with the power to act, the power to change policy and the power to make our voices heard at the highest levels. We have copied this letter to our three Members of Parliament, the undersigned and the Leader of The Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer MP.
Prime Minister, we urge your Government to take immediate action to bring an end to this devastation. We implore you to reach out urgently to international partners and work towards a peaceful resolution.
Specifically, we call on you to ensure that Israel complies with International Law by permitting the delivery of emergency aid, including essential supplies like food, water, and medicines, as outlined by reputable organizations such as the United Nations, United States, European Union.
We firmly assert that the collective punishment of the people of Gaza must not be allowed, in compliance with International Law. Time is of the essence, as Gaza is on the brink of a severe shortage of supplies.
We are deeply concerned about the prospect of 1.5 million people being forced to move south, potentially triggering a refugee crisis, and further destabilizing the entire region and putting innocent lives at risk; men, women and children.
Reports have stated that more than 1000 are currently missing under the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza. Additionally, tonight we note BBC News reports of more than 500 deaths in a strike on Al-Baptadi Hospital. The humanitarian situation in Gaza has reached a dire state.
A significant portion of the population comprises children, the elderly, and the disabled, many of whom have suffered injuries due to bombings. Leaving is simply not a choice for many. The United Nations itself has said we are watching an "unprecedented human catastrophe".
Indeed, the United Nations Humanitarian Office warns that Gaza hospitals’ last reserves of fuel are running dangerously low.
Therefore, on behalf of the people of Burnley, Pendle and Hyndburn, we urge you to:
1) Ensure that aid reaches those in desperate need in Gaza.
2) Establish a safe evacuation corridor for the affected population and condemn any bombing of the Rafah Crossing, the only safe route out of Gaza at present.
3) Hold Israel accountable to international law and encourage restraint in its actions. Reputable news reports suggest that Israel are to launch an offensive in Gaza from land, sea and air, within this context we stress that every effort must be made to stop the loss of further innocent lives.
4) Initiate negotiations to end the siege and engage in talks for a long-term, sustainable solution to the conflict.
5) Furthermore, we implore you to consider the impact of British military aid and support to Israel on our local communities. Such actions only escalate tensions and exacerbate the challenges faced by our constituents, many of whom have innocent relatives and friends in Gaza.
Prime Minister, we urge you to do everything within your power to ensure International Law is upheld throughout this conflict, under which the collective punishment of countless civilians is illegal. The very same laws that were created to protect civilians and allow them a safe passing.
We recognize and uphold the fundamental British value of freedom of expression. In the coming days and weeks, our residents will exercise this right peacefully. We urge you to respect their voices and allow them the space to express their concerns without fear.
We remain committed to working with our communities to combat hate and division particularly antisemitism and islamophobia. To this end, we ask that responsible rhetoric is used by all parties during this highly emotional time.
Now is the time to act, to robustly protect the innocent civilian population across the region.
We eagerly await your urgent response and trust that you will act swiftly, using the power of your office as Prime Minister, to prevent further loss of innocent life.