14 December 2016: Please consider viewing this video and visiting the home page of this blog in order to put the material below into context.
The Charity Commission’s response to the below submission is here.
A further submission containing images of a Hand in Hand for Syria staff member posing with weapons, including an anti-aircraft gun and a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile, is here.
See also Regulator rejects complaint about ‘charity worker’ who allegedly posed with weapons and Hand in Hand for Syria attempts to distance itself from worker who posed with weapons.
Further to this recent post re: Hand in Hand for Syria and the Aylan Kurdi Fund the following has been submitted to the Charity Commision via its webform Raising concerns about a charity:
Section 1: Charity Details
Hand in Hand for Syria
Charity number (if known)
Section 2: Identifying the issue
Identify which of the below best represents the concerns that you wish to report:
- Serious non-compliance in a charity which, left unchecked, could damage public trust and confidence in the Charity Commission as an effective regulator
Section 3: Details of your concerns
Do you have evidence of this?
Please provide a summary of the evidence
The Charity Commission’s website states that Hand in Hand for Syria exists for “the advancement of health or saving lives”. Until July 2014 the Facebook banner of Hand in Hand’s co-founder and chairman Faddy Sahloul read “WE WILL BRING ASSAD TO JUSTICE; NO MATTER WHAT LIVES IT TAKES, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CATASTROPHE IT MAKES”. The image was removed shortly after it was commented on publicly. Mr Sahloul’s bloodthirsty sentiments were “liked” on Facebook by Hand in Hand for Syria co-founder Fadi Al-Dairi. Along with Mr Sahloul, Mr Al-Dairi is listed as one of Hand in Hand for Syria’s Trustees on the Charity Commission website.
A nurse filmed working at a Hand in Hand for Syria hospital in Atareb, Aleppo, Syria in a 2013 BBC Panorama documentary was subsequently photographed at the same hospital in 2014 wearing a Hand in Hand for Syria tunic and ostensibly tending to the injuries of a child combatant. The web article hosting the photograph celebrates the fifteen year old’s supposed battle prowess.
Full details and links to sources are here: http://bit.ly/1hYNSMR. Peace activist Dr Declan Hayes has raised many more questions about Hand in Hand for Syria in this dossier: http://www.taigs.com/Hand-in_Glove.pdf
Please set out any additional facts and information about the serious issue that you wish to report
Hand in Hand for Syria’s original three-star logo is plainly based on the flag adopted by the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian National Council. In 2014 the charity removed the stars from its logo.
The father of Hand in Hand for Syria executive team member Dr Rola Hallam, Dr. Mousa al-Kurdi, has been described in an Open Democracy article as “involved politically with the Syrian National Council”. In a 2012 Al Jazeera interview Dr al-Kurdi passionately advocates for the Syrian National Council’s recognition as the “sole representative” of all Syrians and relates how, following his address to the Friends of Syria summit in Istanbul in 2012 (attended by Hillary Clinton) he personally told Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu “You’re not doing enough” and demanded of Professor Davutoğlu and several other foreign ministers present, including the US State Department’s Victoria Nuland, “either you defend us or you arm the Syrian Free Army to defend us – you have the choice”.
Details of attempts you have made to get the charity to address this issue. Please provide details of when you reported this issue to the charity and the outcome:
I do not wish to contact Hand in Hand for Syria as the charity is clearly linked to violent extremists whose sentiments are shared at the highest levels of the organisation.
Details of any previous correspondence or contact with us:
None in relation to Hand in Hand for Syria.
Details of previous correspondence with any other public body about these matters:
Correspondence with the BBC in relation to the September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and related BBC News reports, which feature Hand in Hand for Syria prominently, is here: http://bit.ly/1yaFKOq
Analysis and discussion of the above BBC reports is here: http://bit.ly/1qA9qAA
Is the issue that you wish to report the subject of any legal proceedings or litigation? If so please give details:
In an email of 19 December 2014 Sam Hewett, Operations Coordinator of ShelterBox International, wrote:
“We look forward to the results of the investigations of the Charity Commission. Special Branch have also been in contact with ShelterBox, and we have no doubt that they will also have been making investigations with Hand in Hand for Syria.”