EDITORIALS | Statement in support of Aleppo, and how we can help

EDITORIAL

Content warning: genocide, military violence, death

Currently, there are over 100,000 Syrians trapped in Eastern Aleppo, an area of around five square kilometers. The area is besieged by Syrian regime forces, as well as allied Russian and Iranian forces and militias, and these forces are using cluster bombs and barrel bombs, among others, and firing and bombarding areas indiscriminately, regardless of the high presence of civilians. People from within besieged Eastern Aleppo have been tweeting their last goodbyes and making pleas to the United Nations, foreign government and in the international community; but many agencies, humanitarian relief organizations, and journalists are unable to enter the area as a result of the siege. There have been reports of the Syrian army going into people’s homes in Eastern Aleppo and shooting civilians on sight. There have also been reports of regime forces entering a hospital and killing all the staff who worked there. A recent letter written and signed by the Syria Civil Defense (White Helmets), the Independent Doctors Association, the Syrian American Medical Society, and Kesh Malek (a self-described Syrian revolutionary civil society organization) stated: “if we stay we fear for our lives. The women may be taken to camps, the men disappeared and anyone who is known to have supported civilians will face detention or execution.  We’ve watched thousands of our boys and mens [sic] be detained. Countless White Helmets, doctors, nurses and humanitarians have been targeted and killed in the regime’s cruel assault on Aleppo. The regime has been trying to kill us for five years. Please don’t give them this chance. We can not believe that the world’s most powerful countries cannot get 100,000 souls four kilometers to safety.”

The world is witnessing this genocide and is standing idly by. A ceasefire was brokered yesterday after an emergency Security Council meeting was held, but is currently being broken by the Syrian regime and allied forces, who continue to shell the besieged area. We urge you to contact your local Member of Parliament and ask them to take action by talking to the foreign minister. Contact the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (+1 (800) 267-8367) and ask them to support the ceasefire agreement. You can specifically contact the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa (+1 (613) 235-4341 or consul.ottawa@mid.ru) and ask them to tell their representatives to respect and abide by the ceasefire agreement.

We are utterly disappointed with the McGill administration for being silent on the issue, failing to release a statement supporting Syrian students at McGill, as they did for French students following the Paris attacks of last year. By selectively mourning, the University has repeatedly shown that it does not care about tragedies afflicting people of colour. There are direct ways we as students can also help. You can support Syrians by donating directly to an “Aleppo Fund” here – the funds will go directly to help the medical needs of the civilian victims of the airstrikes and shelling in Aleppo. You can also help the Syrian Students Association’s ongoing initiatives on campus, as they aim to help Syrian refugees abroad through campaigns such as “Empowering a Lost Generation: Books for Syria”, an initiative that aims to raise “enough funds to buy and ship educational textbooks and novels to Syrian refugee children in Turkey.”

We are witnessing a genocide. It is easy to scroll past posts about this, or maybe you are not seeing many at all. Read about Aleppo and the situation in Syria and stay informed. This is our responsibility, and the least we can do, especially given that mainstream media’s coverage of the issue has been, and remains, insufficient.

Contacts:

Find your Member of Parliament by Postal Code: http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/ParlInfo/compilations/houseofcommons/memberbypostalcode.aspx?Menu=HOC

Number of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs: +1 (800) 267-8367

Number of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa: +1 (613) 235-4341

Email of the Consul General of the Russian Federation in Ottawa: consul.ottawa@mid.ru

Media activists on the ground to follow on Twitter:

Aleppo Media Center @AleppoAMCen

Shero Alo @SheroAlo1

Mohammad Basbous @basbous1000

Rami Zein @Rami_Zein

Zouhir Al Shimale @ZouhirAlShimale


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