News / Vancouver

Syrian refugees and supporters mourn fall of Aleppo, decry ‘failed’ international response

Several hundred held a vigil in Vancouver on Saturday night, demanding the international community overcome impasse on atrocities.

On Saturday night in Vancouver, several hundred people called for international action to stop the killing of civilians in Syria, and to push the United Nations out of an impasse over how to respond to war crimes there.

Contributed/Ashik Hossain (BreakBox Media)

On Saturday night in Vancouver, several hundred people called for international action to stop the killing of civilians in Syria, and to push the United Nations out of an impasse over how to respond to war crimes there.

“Assad, go to Hell — Aleppo, we are with you,” shouted Mohammed Alsaleh, a Syrian refugee living in Vancouver, through a megaphone on Saturday night.

Alsaleh spoke to a crowd of several hundred attending a candlelight vigil against dictator Bashar al-Assad outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, as the strongman took back the city of Aleppo, Syria from rebels.

“Assad might have won this battle but the war is not over,” he told the gathered crowd, many of them fellow Syrian refugees who have made a new home in Canada after fleeing their homeland’s five-year civil war, which broke out after the regime opened fire on Arab Spring demonstrations and rebels took up arms.

The conflict has pulled in major world powers — Russia and Iran propping up Assad, and Gulf states and the U.S. backing the armed opposition — and it’s become a political quagmire.

“Humanity is dead and nobody is really caring about what is happening in Syria,” Alsaleh lamented.

Contributed/Zarah Tinholt

For another rally speaker, Zarah Tinholt with the group Refugees Matter, the United Nations Security Council’s deadlock over whether to intervene in the conflict need not paralyze the rest of the world.

“We as Canadians are demanding change… not only from our politicians in Canada but from politicians across the world,” she said. “We are not paralyzed. We have spent five years thinking that we are paralyzed.

“Good intentions are not good enough when people are being slaughtered across the world. Those people are exactly like us, they have families, they have children, they have futures.”

She called on fellow Canadians to “stand up, get active and get vocal,” at the local event organized by University of British Columbia student Sawsan Al Najjar.

In an email, Tinholt said the vigil attracted more than 200 people, the “vast majority” of them Syrian refugees who found asylum in Canada, she wrote.

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