The image of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a beach in Aegean Sea may become a defining moment in this Federal Election. The image shows the impact of heartless Conservative government policy—from warmongering to scapegoating of refugees and migrants.
But the Harper Tories are doubling down and trying to use the refugee crisis to build support for their profit-driven war in Iraq and Syria. We cannot let them get away with that. Bombs and invasion caused ISIS to emerge; more bombs will not solve it.
Imperialism is responsible for this crisis. People would not be forced to take extreme measures to find refuge in Europe if the US, Canada and other NATO countries had not destroyed and pillaged their homelands.
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 unleashed a wave of displacement, death and terror on the people of Iraq. ISIS is simply a product of that war. Indeed, it is now known that many of the leaders of ISIS were held and tortured by the US in Iraq. It was the inhumanity of the US that created this terror group. And each civilian that is killed brings more recruits into the arms of ISIS. That has been the same pattern repeated over and over again from Afghanistan to Somalia to Libya. Relentless bombing campaigns always build even more opposition to war and occupation. Canada owns its fair share of this chaos. They have killed civilians in Iraq and spent months trying to cover up that fact.
The crisis in Syria is likewise a result of the western manipulation. Western coalition states have flooded the country with weapons with little or no regard for who may eventually end up using them. Since the war against ISIS began, we have seen even more civilian casualties and even more people leaving Iraq and Syria. And for what? The war has not budged ISIS at all. In fact, according to the CIA and other US-based intelligence agencies, ISIS is as strong as it ever was. The West is engaged in a war without end and with no hope of bringing peace. We have yet to see a bombing campaign that has delivered the stated objective.
Libya is a key example, and a location where many of the refugees are coming from. NATO cynically used the uprisings in Libya in 2011 to assert their own control over the country. A “no-fly zone” quickly morphed into a massive bombing campaign that unleashed chaos throughout the country. Canadian forces were entirely aware that this would be the case. Department of National Defence officials jokingly said that Canada’s role in Libya was to act as “Al-Qaeda’s air force”. And yet they refuse to open the borders to refugees fleeing the crisis that we helped create.
The partners of the NATO countries in the region need to share blame as well. Each of the regional actors has their own interests at heart and in many ways are working at cross purposes—resulting in even more chaos and death. Turkey has, for example been bombing Kurdish civilians which have been many of the strongest fighters against ISIS. Along with the Gulf States that have been the fountainhead of ideological support for ISIS and the regional dictatorships such as Egypt, that Canada supports, the prospects for any lasting peace are very dim.
Stop the war, open the borders
There is only one long-term solution to the current round of war and displacement that so tragically ended the lives of thousands who are fleeing the chaos. That is to get the imperial powers out of each and every country in the area. That will not solve all the problems overnight—far from it. But it may give a chance for the people to act for a political solution not based on the manipulation of the major states. When asked by reporters what the world can do to stop these tragedies from happening, Tima Kurdi, the aunt of the children who dies said simply, “stop the war.”
In the meantime, Canada and countries around the world need to open up their borders, welcome refugees and stop the racist Tory attacks. The Conservatives deny refuge for Afghans fleeing the war (even those who worked with Canada while there), detained hundreds of Tamil refugees fleeing the genocide in Sri Lanka, and refused to open the borders for Syrian refugees. The Conservatives have denied basic medical care for refugees and used the Temporary Foreign Workers Program to exploit migrant workers and scapegoat them for the economic crisis.
In Canada that means we must use all the tools at our disposal to kick the racist Tory warmongers out of office. This blood is on their hands.
Stop the War - Open the borders - Refugees are welcome here!
Join the Refugees Welcome! cross-country weekend of mobilization, September 4-7.