I once read a quote by Voltaire which said “Those that can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” In the past week, war crimes have been traded between Iran and the United States and relayed breathlessly by media outlets as if they were sporting events. We start to take action and then find ourselves befuddled by the short term chaos. Do we still need to protest? Do we still need to care? Yes we do! However, we must remember our compass and make sure we are fighting for the long game. Despite the current claims of a “stand down” and the horrendous killing of those on Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752, this conflict did not start with Soleimani and it will not end easily.
1) Go to the rallies organized in your communities. In the past week, thousands came out to rallies organized in communities across Canada to stand against war with Iran. Let’s not step back now. We must build the peace movement to stand up against those who are mongering for war. Two things we can do are to support campaigns and other peace groups as they demand that Canada stop selling arms to autocratic governments in the Middle East. The Iranian Canadian Congress recently put out a call for volunteers to help organize rallies in Montreal, Waterloo, Vancouver and Toronto. If you want to help, reach out.
2) All 176 people on flight PS752 died; 138 were en route to Canada. The Iranian Canadian Congress released the following statement asking for accountability and for a de-escalation of tensions in the region. There are memorial services being held across Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. Families will need help. Reach out to the organizers and find out what you can do.
In the past days, I have been learning about the people who died, and I cannot begin to fathom the loss. This article from the Toronto Star, compiled tributes about a dozen people who died, who were working on academic research from advanced computer engineering to Indigenous conservation strategies. My tiny contribution, as a former Torontonian, will be to support the Tirgan Festival. I’m sorry to hear about the members of the Tirgan family who were lost.
3) Do not make this about choosing between Trump and the government in Iran. There are people and organizations working for human rights and accountability in both the United States and in Canada. I am working with friends who have been active in the Iranian community and are working to stop Trump in 2020. Work to support them and to de-escalate the calls for war.
Image: Alisdare Hickson/Flickr