The killing of up to 73 civilians in a US Coalition led airstrike in Northern Syria on Tuesday 19 July 2016 is deplorable and yet another horrifying reality of the state of death and destruction in the world today. It comes in the aftermath of much publicised recent terrorist attacks in western centres such as Orlando, Paris, Istanbul and Nice.
While the killing of civilians in the latter attacks received wide publicity and condemnation, the same does not hold true of this most recent death of civilians in Syria, by warplanes dispatched by a powerful army. Civilian deaths by State forces are not isolated or unusual incidents, but a reality in the Middle East and North Africa for over a decade now. Bombing and drone attacks by US armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen have claimed thousands of civilian lives over the years. They have at times been assisted by British, French and German forces. Saudi Arabia’s vicious bombing of Yemen, which continues to this day, has indiscriminately killed women and children. Israel’s bombing of Palestinian enclaves has claimed thousands of civilians lives and destroyed civilian infrastructure. The actions by the Indian military in Kashmir have resulted in dozens of civilian deaths over the past few weeks alone. Then there are the bombings by the Assad military regime, assisted by Russia, against armed rebels in Syria, which has also claimed large numbers of civilian lives.
The killing of innocent civilians is a war crime no matter who perpetrates it, and the guilty must be brought to justice in the international courts of law. The indiscriminate killing of civilians by State actors have in no way ameliorated the root causes of terror across the world and forms part and parcel of the cycle of violence gripping large parts of the Middle East and the Northern Hemisphere. Indeed, we are witnessing a deadly and self-perpetuating cycle between the terror directed at civilians by Muslim extremist groups and the terror by powerful States on civilian populations.
This is a war on humanity and our response should reflect a deep respect for the sanctity of all human life. We need to raise our conciousness to condemn all acts of terror and violence that result in the killing of innocent civilians. We need to urgently explore ways in which we can seek justice for all people through non-war and non-violence in our world at large. We call for an impartial investigation into the killings of civilians by US and other State forces and for those responsible to be brought to justice.
SIGNED: Jaamia Galant (Secretary) and Imam Dr. Rashied Omar
OBO CMRM Board of Governors