Justin Trudeau, leader of Canada’s Liberal Party announced yesterday that if he wins the upcoming election, his party will end the country’s involvement in the war against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) group and restart diplomatic relations with Iran.
Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party, was quick to respond that Trudeau was playing “electoral politics.” His party pointed out that Trudeau made the statement on the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terror.
In October this year Canadians will go to the polls to vote for the future government: the competition is between the Liberals, Conservatives, and the New Democratic Party (NDP) – which also opposes Canada’s involvement in the military action against ISIS.
On the same day that the Canadian politicians point fingers at each other and accuse one another of playing games, ISIS bombs Kobani, Syria, kills 75 civilians and militia and injures hundreds.
I was present at the House of Commons when the prime minister’s motion on expanding military intervention was presented and the opposition worried about the legality of stopping atrocities and worried that Bashar al-Assad might benefit from the military intervention. As the members of Parliament argued and debated, I noticed that my hands had become wet with my own tears.
Were these senior politicians fully aware how they were making decoctions on the fate of millions of persecuted and traumatized refugees?
According to the United Nations’ latest estimation, nearly 60 million people are displaced at the moment.
Approximately 30 million of the displaced are children and countless thousands of them die on a daily basis due to hunger, cold or heat, dehydration, disease and accidents.
“Members of ISIL may have committed war crimes by perpetrating murder, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture, outrages upon personal dignity, taking of hostages, the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court,” states the annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General.
“(ISIL has been) directing attacks against the civilian population, directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, historic monuments, pillaging a town or place, committing rape, sexual slavery, and other forms of sexual violence, conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities, ordering the displacement of the civilian population, destroying or seizing the property of an adversary.”
Countless thousand lives are lost and damaged on a daily basis and yet we stand by and ponder complexities and legalities.
A concern of the opponents of military action is whether or not the UN Security Council has granted permission for military intervention. As an activist friend pointed out, when was the last time that all five members of this council agreed that a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the world? If China and Russia, two permanent members, had not vetoed the proposal for intervention in the Syrian crisis on May 22, 2014, thousands of lives would have been saved and Bashar al-Assad and ISIS couldn’t steep the entire region into blood.
Humanitarian aid is an urgency, as today most humanitarian agencies in the world are overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of globally displaced people. Disease is now killing more people in refugee camps than the ISIS militia, than the cholera outbreak, meningitis and other infectious diseases that are claiming lives. Many internally displaced people live in unfinished malls and under tents and in trailers without access to clean water and hygiene.
Humanitarian aid is much needed and highly valuable, but is it not enough. We need to prevent more people from needing such aid, from falling victim to violence. More than 70 per cent of the refugee camp inhabitants are women and children, UNHCR reports. The refugees’ problems don’t end even after they arrive at camps and receive food, clothing, and medication. The women are not safe from sexual assaults.
Military intervention, at this point, is not an imperialist scheme to take control of another state. This is a matter of taking part in combating one of the most brutal forces of our age. In this crisis, Canada and the international community is either part of the solution or it can simply turn a blind eye to the catastrophe.
ISIS would indiscriminately murder and torture Canadians as well who are also considered “infidels.” Canada can stop more people -- abroad and at home -- from falling victim to the bloodthirsty ISIS. This group needs to be stopped immediately, and military intervention is the only way to fight the heavily armed barbarians.
In the face of such a massive catastrophe unfolding in the Middle East and other parts of the world, politicians can prove their true engagement with tragedies through responding effectively to the events and not worrying about status.
The article was originally published HERE