Deaths in the Mediterranean

Photo credit: The Independent, UK

The picture of the body of the little Syrian child lying dead face down in the Water after a boat carrying refugees sank in the Mediterranean while trying to reach Europe, has seared the consciousness of people across the globe.

Thousands of others from Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan – and other African countries – making the same journey have perished in the same way.

Who is responsible?
Mainly the government of the United States and its western allies, including Canada.

How so?
For unleashing war, directly or indirectly, in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria, causing indescribable damage to human life, government and social infrastructure, agriculture, houses, hospitals and schools, employment in town and countryside – not in the interests of democracy or protecting human rights, but to gain back full control of the area for its oil and natural resources, a market for their goods and services, and for its strategic value.

The Saudi and the Gulf monarchies, long hating the republican, secular and non-capitalist oriented governments of Libya, Iraq and Syria, have assisted in this destruction by, among other things, financing and arming fundamentalist terrorist groups in these countries.

A popular international tribunal should be set up to see if Western and Arab leaders who have caused this death and destruction are guilty of violating international law and of crimes against humanity.

More generally, while poverty has been the lot of the masses in Africa and much of Asia for long, it has become exacerbated in recent decades due to increased globalization on terms greatly favourable to the west.

The absence of genuinely democratic governments in large parts of Asia and Africa has compounded the problem.

The wars, increased exploitation by western corporations, corrupt governments, fundamentalist violence, have made the lives of hundreds of millions wretched beyond measure. Hundreds of millions suffer from joblessness, hunger, homelessness; tens of millions are refugees or seek a better life in the west. While refugees seeking asylum in the west must be treated humanely and given asylum, it is the reasons for their mass exodus that must be addressed.

The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while professing great pain at seeing the picture of the dead child, is calling for more war in the region – the chief cause of the tragedy. All outside interference in Syria must stop forthwith and the Syrian government and opposition allowed to settle their differences themselves by negotiations.

The struggle against ISIS must be conducted in cooperation with the governments of Syria, Iraq and Libya.

Two other steps can be taken relatively speedily to provide relief to the people of the less developed world. World expenditure on armaments was over $1.5 trillion dollars in 2014 – a stupendous amount, which should be halved quickly, and the funds thus saved spent on social needs and development.

Total foreign aid from the richer to the poorer countries is a little short of $150 billion. It should be doubled – without any strings, at zero or nominal interest rates and for genuinely developmental projects – by increasing the taxes on multinationals and large corporations that, as is commonly known, pay hardly any or none at all.

Ending the unfair and unequal relations between the ‘north’ and the ‘south’, for fair trade that benefits all parties must be struggled for.

Last, but very importantly, genuinely democratic government representing the interests of the people, not the 1%, are urgently needed in the south as well as in the north!