Chatham House screening of ‘The White Helmets’: three questions for the panel

The below email was sent today to the Members Events Administrator of Chatham House, which is to host a members’ screening of The White Helmets.

Dear Linda

Thank you for your reply re: Chatham House’s screening of The White Helmets today. (I note that winner of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, for which the White Helmets are nominated, is also to be announced this evening).

Could you kindly forward these questions to Lord Williams. I hope he may consider putting them to Joanna Natasegara, the film’s producer, and to James Sadri, Director of The Syria Campaign, during the Q&A this evening.

1) Why are the White Helmets not recognised by the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO) [1]?

Decades before the White Helmets, aka “Syria Civil Defence”, was founded under the supervision of British military contractor James LeMesurier in Turkey in 2013 [2] there already existed a Syria Civil Defence, established in 1953 and which was a founder member of the ICDO in 1972. This original Syria Civil Defence works in both opposition and government held areas, unlike the White Helmets who operate solely in the former. [3]

Vanessa Beeley writes:

“Other ICDO partners include the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Secretarian of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations of Geneva (UNOG), Red Cross and the Red Crescent.

To our knowledge and according to the Head Quarters of the REAL Syria Civil Defence in Damascus, the White Helmets are NOT a member of the ICDO. The REAL Syria Civil Defence have received awards for their participation in the training of other member states in USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) and for their contributions to the Civil Defence community, prior to the NATO dirty war on Syria that began in earnest, in 2011.” [3]

The headquarters of the ICDO recently stated that “Actually the White Helmets are not even civil defence, concretely” [4].

2) What explanations can there be for the preponderance of highly disturbing images and videos of White Helmets such as those below? Other instances depict uniformed White Helmets carrying weapons [5], attending the murder of a young man [6], giving the victory sign over a pile of dead Syrian soldiers [7] and boasting about throwing the corpses of Syrian forces members “in the trash”. [8]


3) Why, in September 2016, did The Syria Campaign encourage 73 aid organizations operating in opposition-held territory, including the White Helmets, to suspend their cooperation with the UN aid programme? Max Blumenthal writes:

As the Guardian noted in its coverage, “The decision to withdraw from the Whole of Syria programme, in which organisations share information to help the delivery of aid, means in practice the UN will lose sight of what is happening throughout the north of Syria and in opposition-held areas of the country, where the NGOs do most of their work.” [9]

Yours sincerely

Robert Stuart


Posing as a non-political solidarity organization, the Syria Campaign leverages local partners and media contacts to push the U.S. into toppling another Middle Eastern government.

From: Linda Bedford
Sent: 29 September 2016 11:17
To: Robert Stuart
Subject: RE: [Members Events Team] Chatham House Screening Room: White Helmets

Dear Robert

Thank you for your email.I am very sorry but our events are only open to members of Chatham House, or by special invitation from our research programmes or the speaker.

If you are interested in membership, please take a look at our website. (

Become a Chatham House member and join a diverse and influential network of individuals and organizations who take a proactive interest in global affairs and value …

Best wishes


Linda Bedford
Members Events Administrator

—–Original Message—–
From: [] On Behalf Of Robert Stuart
Sent: 28 September 2016 15:48
To: Members Events
Subject: [Members Events Team] Chatham House Screening Room: White Helmets

Robert Stuart sent a message using the contact form at

Hi – is this event open to members of the public? Thanks.

Report as inappropriate:

The contents of this email are confidential and/or privileged information intended for the addressee only. If you are
not the addressee, or the person responsible for delivering it to the addressee, you may not copy or disclose this
information to anyone else. This email may contain personal views which are not the views of Chatham House.  If
you have received this email in error, please delete it from your system. Save paper – do you need to print this

About Robert Stuart

Researching the 2013 BBC Panorama documentary Saving Syria's Children and associated BBC News reports.

2 responses to “Chatham House screening of ‘The White Helmets’: three questions for the panel

  1. Pingback: Chatham House screening of ‘The White Helmets’: three questions for the panel | thewallwillfall

  2. Pingback: Who are the White Helmets & what role are both they & the media playing in Syria? – Road To Somewhere Else

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: