Monday, July 17, 2006

Grief Leads to Harsh Criticism of Harper Government

Following the deaths of 7 Canadians in Lebanon over the weekend, family members and religious leaders held a news conference pleading to the government to get more involved in the situation.

Seven members of the Al-Akhrass family, including four young children, were on vacation when they were killed Sunday as Israel bombed the southern Lebanese village of Aitaroun.

Hussein Al-Akhrass, the children's uncle, told a Montreal news conference Monday his family were begging the Canadian government to "put pressure on Israel to stop this barbaric behaviour."

"Israel is bombing civilian people and we should not accept that," he told reporters.

Amira Al-Akhrass and her four Canadian-born children Salaan, 1, Ahamed, 3, Zeinab, 5, and Saja, 7, perished in their ancestral home near the Israeli border, around 50 kilometres south of Beirut.

Two other relatives of the Al-Akhrass family were also killed and another three, including the children's father, Ali Al-Akhrass, were injured in the attack.

What an incredibly sad reality. Too many of us simply note the numbers of casualties and are never faced with the stark, emotional reality of the grief being suffered by family and friends.

"I'm crying because my family has been annihilated and my whole country has been destroyed," family relative Maysoun Al-Akhrass told the news conference.

"Nobody, not the media nor Mr. Harper, has supported Lebanon at all, nobody is telling the truth," she said. "These people are innocent people like you and I."

Exactly. We should never forget that. No matter which 'side' of this conflict people may get behind, when it all comes down to it innocents are dead and wounded. They are not simply 'collateral damage' as if they're some piece of inanimate property that does not have flesh, bone and breath. They are fellow human beings who have suffered - as are those who care about them.

There is no humanity to be found in killing people.

I applaud the courage of these family members and leaders to share their grief with all of us and to ask for accountability and action in the midst of their incredible pain. They ought not suffer in obscurity and silence.

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