Ottawa's Kurdish Community pushing world leaders to intervene in attacks in Northern Syria
Joanne Schnurr, CTVNewsOttawa.ca staff
Published Thursday, October 10, 2019 5:53PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 10, 2019 7:03PM EDT
Kurdish-Canadians in Ottawa meantime are watching events unfold in Northern Syria, desperate for world leaders to intervene. Organizations like Save the Children, meantime, are warning of a mass displacement of children as they flee the bombing.About 5 thousand Kurds call Ottawa home. But right now, their thoughts are on their former homes and the loved ones left behind as artillery attacks continue today.
The bombing has been relentless since the U.S. President’s decision to pull American troops out of northern Syria.
People are fleeing on foot or by car, trying to find safety though it's not clear where that exists.
Rojen Rahmani watches events unfold from her home in Ottawa. She was just 5 years old when her family left the Kurdish-occupied region of Iran; at 21, she's taken it upon herself to fight for those left behind.
“I am privileged to be in Canada,” says Rahmani, who is the former president of the Kurdish Association of Canada and the Director of Government Relations for Toronto and Ottawa Kurdish communities, “and at same time, I feel like I’m betraying my people by being here, and they're not here. I’m lucky to be here and what makes me better than them to be here and not them and avoid air strikes?”
Rahmani helped organize a protest Tuesday outside the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, one of several across the country. She also delivered a letter to the U.S. ambassador, in which she wrote, “We ask that you bring this letter to Presidents Trump's attention and bring to his attention that we Canadians of Kurdish descent will not watch as our family, friends and allies get slaughtered by the Turkish military.”
“This is unacceptable,” she said, “He needs to tell Turkey to back off.”
Bilind Alsino's sister is in the area being bombed. She's safe, he says, for now.
“When the attacks started,” Alsino said through a translator, “some of his sister's neighbours got killed
but his sister could run to their village.”
Juan Mohammad also has many family members in the area, “Turkey,” he says, “see what's happening! And they're killing the civilians, they don’t' care if they are armed or not, if they are children or old people, women or men.”
Save the Children is calling on Ottawa to rescue at least 25 Canadian children from northern Syria.
The charity says most of the children are the offspring of ISIS militants, and that some of them are orphans. They are mostly based in a refugee camp about 100 kilometres southeast of where turkey is carrying out air and ground assaults on Kurdish forces. The organization is also warning of a mass displacement of children.
Jeremy Stoner is the regional director of Save the Children and spoke to CTV Ottawa from his current location in Amman, Jordan, “If this were to get any larger and more complicated and if we saw big movements of people, that's the biggest thing I worry about,” he says, “and because of the conflict, we couldn't access them. That's the really fearful set of circumstances.”
Kurdish-Canadians have been holding rallies in cities across this country. They say it's challenging during an election to get the attention of politicians. But they say their people can't wait two more weeks for action.