Waad al-Kateab / November 4, 2023

Uninvite Assad from COP 28

This is a message from award-winning Syrian filmmaker Waad al-Kateab

There’s just one month until the world’s COP 28 climate conference this November but instead of protecting humanity, host country the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has invited Syrian war criminal Bashar al-Assad to the talks. I survived Assad’s brutal siege of Aleppo, but far from holding Assad to account, world leaders are providing the ideal opportunity for him to greenwash his regime’s crimes against humanity at his first international conference since 2011.

If Assad does make it to the UN climate talks, every handshake and photo opp will be a grave betrayal of victims of atrocities in Syria. That’s why I delivered a message directly to the UAE outside its Manchester City Etihad football stadium, today on match day, demanding that Assad is uninvited from COP.

The UAE has several high-profile investments in UK football teams, sponsored by its airlines Etihad and Emirates. It cares what fans and its airline customers think. Together, we can show that we won’t stand for the UAE giving Assad a platform in four weeks time. Join me and pile even more pressure on the UAE by signing the petition demanding that Assad is uninvited from COP.

My message to the UAE outside its Etihad stadium before the Manchester City game today

To suggest Assad is interested in climate and protecting the planet is ludicrous. Over the past decade, he has besieged and bombed entire towns and cities, including my home Aleppo, littered Syria’s landscape with shrapnel, displaced millions of people from their land, and deliberately burnt farmers’ fields to starve the Syrian people.

The regime has used chemical weapons 222 times in the past 12 years and Assad’s goal remains the destruction of anyone and anything that threatens his authority. More than 130,000 people remain forcibly disappeared in horrific conditions and in the past month alone his forces have bombed seven hospitals, 13 schools, and killed 66 civilians in northwest Syria.

The UAE and other world leaders at COP must take a stand. Together, we can show that we stand up for fair play and won’t support the UAE giving Assad a platform at the world cup of climate conferences. Sign the petition: Uninvite Syrian war criminal Assad from the COP climate conference.

Normalising relations with the Syrian regime renders all efforts to hold it to account for its heinous crimes meaningless, as well as the systems of international law that are meant to keep all of us safe.

Help us protect this beautiful planet of ours. Do not let these historic climate negotiations be used as a stamp of approval for criminals and crimes against humanity.