Trudeau plays cynical waiting game while children die in Yemen

In February 2018 Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland addressed the Human Rights Council in Geneva. She stated:

Few issues are as important as those that relate to human rights and freedoms…. We are also in a time in which international humanitarian law has been dangerously challenged. Civilians are being slaughtered and have been the targets of ongoing attacks in too many situations.

These repeated attacks against civilians must cease from being perceived as collateral damage. These acts are unacceptable.

Minister Freeland singled out Syria as an egregious example of atrocities against civilians by the Assad regime. She raised cases of human rights abuses and lack of accountability in Venezuela, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and North Korea.

But not a word about Yemen.

Not a word about a conflict where civilians including children are repeatedly targeted by the Saudi-led coalition and where their illegal economic blockade has put 14 million Yemenis at imminent risk of starvation. The latest atrocities include Saudi troops firing on civilians demonstrating against the presence of foreign forces in their land and buses of fleeing citizens being targeted by air strikes.

Yemen is not a theoretical case for Canada. Canadian-build armoured vehicles (called “light” but in fact heavily armoured) have been used by Saudi Arabia throughout its war in Yemen.

The Toronto Star on Friday, 16 November carried this plea by the heads of three Canadian non-governmental organizations working in Yemen, Bill Chambers, President of Save the Children Canada; Julie Delahanty, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada; and Gillian Barth, President of CARE Canada:

The time has long come for Canada to join countries like Germany, Belgium, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and suspend its military assistance to parties to the conflict in Yemen.

Yet, all we continue to hear from the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister are excuses for why Canada cannot end this unconscionable military assistance to Saudi Arabia. Jobs could be affected, penalties might be incurred, our reputation as a good supplier might be sullied.

We say we are a global champion of human rights. But apparently that is only the case when there is no price to be paid by Canada, when we have no commercial interests in play. – Peggy Mason

The government is seeking to mute criticism by telling us they are considering sanctioning certain Saudi individuals implicated in the barbaric murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, now that the Trump administration has done so. Of course, this action would not in any way address the role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who almost certainly ordered the gruesome assassination, and who is also responsible for the Saudi military intervention in Yemen.

In short, these proposed sanctions will do nothing to help end the war in Yemen nor to stop the awful Canadian complicity in that war.

The government is playing a cynical waiting game, hoping the outcry will die down, while millions of children in Yemen are suffering unspeakable torment. We must not let this tactic prevail. – Peggy Mason

If you have not already done so, please sign the Ceasefire petition to end arms exports to Saudi Arabia by clicking here.

Photo credit: Wikimedia (Yemeni home that was bombed, killing four children and four adults).



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8 Responses to “Trudeau plays cynical waiting game while children die in Yemen”

  1. Jordan bishopNovember 17, 2018 at 11:27 am #

    The Canadian government is actively contributing to the assassination of men, women and children in Yemen.

  2. Carol MylerNovember 17, 2018 at 9:24 am #

    The atrocities in Yemen are definitely terrible. Liberals are in power but the Conservatives would be no different in their actions. Which party initiated these armored vehicle contracts in the first place? Maybe we need a big change…….give NDP or Green Party a chance as they “seem” to talk more sense and have a bigger heart.

  3. Raymond ComeauNovember 17, 2018 at 5:57 am #

    Excellent commentary!

  4. Theodora CarrollNovember 16, 2018 at 10:19 pm #

    This Lieberal Government is acting in a totally unconscionable, two-faced way in Yemen. From the outset of its 2015 election it has broken promises one after the other . Canada has always been seen as acting in an honourable way, including upholding human rights. That perception is fast disappearing, at home and internationally. It could break its arms deal with Saudi Arabia and easily pay the purported $1 billion “fine”. After all it forked out $4.5 billion for a rusty pipeline to what had been one of the worst oil and gas companies, Enron, and those costs are said to be likely to escalate to closer to $8.5 billion. So a $1 billion fine which then helps to save thousands of lives of children and their parents is a small price to pay. When election time comes, Canadians will not forget the duplicity of this government.

  5. Michael MurphyNovember 16, 2018 at 8:27 pm #

    Canada will be shamed in the international community if we do not speak out about Yemen and work relentlessly to bring about an end to the war there.

  6. Anne StreeterNovember 16, 2018 at 6:28 pm #

    Chrystia Freeland simply has to go! She is making an absolute mess of Foreign Affairs! She shames us all!

    • Raymond ComeauNovember 17, 2018 at 5:56 am #

      Chrystia is merely the MOUTHPIECE ( albeit a schooled loudmouth) of the Liberal Party and the hidden hand which controls it. If one looks at the USA and its ‘DEEP STATE’ and Canada and its ‘HIDDEN HAND’ one might begin to think that today’s version of ‘DEMOCRACY’ is just another form of Authoritarianism. We the people have no one to speak for us.

  7. Howard DoughtyNovember 16, 2018 at 6:18 pm #

    I haven’t forgotten about the Saudi arms deal … and I haven’t forgotten about the promise of electoral reform … and I haven’t forgotten about a long list of other matters on which the Liberal Party has reversed itself or just gone silent.

    The hostilities in Yemen, however, is such a simple matter of minimal morality and one in which the right course of action is so obvious, that I despair of a Canadian future in which the principles of the previous government and the principles of the current government seem so aligned in everything but “tone” and “image” … substance matters!