By ENVER VILLAMIZAR
On December 6, the government of Canada announced it would begin financing the group called the “White Helmets” to the tune of $4.5 million dollars. The Trudeau government has taken this “Syria Civil Defence” group under its wing as part of Canada’s “peacemaking” in Syria. The funds come from its “Peace and Stabilization Operations Program.” The same day, Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Howard Drake, British High Commissioner to Canada, announced that six public events would be held across Canada from December 7 to 13 featuring figures associated with the group.
The tour coincides with International Human Rights Day, December 10, and uses phrases about human rights to justify war and aggression. In this regard, the “White Helmets” are part of the imperialists’ private special forces on the civilian front. They reinforce the aim of regime change in Syria, including acting as auxiliaries for anti-government armed groups that are financed by the imperialists which Canada supports.
The “White Helmets” were founded in 2013 by James Le Mesurier, a British private military contractor, consultant for the UK Foreign Office and former military intelligence officer, when the governments of the U.S. and UK funded select individuals in rebel-held territory in Syria to travel to Turkey to allegedly receive training in rescue operations. The White Helmets group is supported by a foundation started by Le Mesurier called Mayday Rescue which operates out of the Netherlands, Dubai, Jordan and Turkey. According to the U.S. State Department the group has received at least $23 million in U.S. government funding but the British Foreign Office is said to be its largest single backer.
The group operates exclusively in those areas which remain under the control of armed groups that refuse to participate in a political resolution to the conflict in Syria. Canada’s funds are slated to help the group “recruit volunteers,” particularly women. Tour events were held in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto on December 7, 8 and 9 respectively. Two more events are scheduled: one in Winnipeg at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on December 11; the other in Vancouver at the University of British Columbia.
The tour will feature the screening of a Netflix film, created to promote the group, and panelists who are identified as:
- Raed Saleh, “Head of the White Helmets and Chair of Syria Civil Defence,” a non-recognized group that does not belong to the International Civil Defence Organisation. Saleh allegedly travels back and forth illicitly between Turkey and Syria;
- Farouq Habib, “Syria Program Director at Mayday Rescue Foundation,” which is funded by Britain, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the U.S. and others. Habib was a participant in U.S.-backed efforts to overthrow the Syrian government in the city of Homs until 2013 and now works in Turkey; and
- James Le Mesurier, “founder and Director of Mayday Rescue,” who, according to his official biography at the Mayday Rescue site, “has spent 20 years working in fragile states as a United Nations staff member, a consultant for private companies and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and as a British Army Officer. Much of his experience has involved delivering stabilisation activities through security sector and democratisation programmes.”
It is unacceptable to use human rights and the rights of women as pretexts to promote aggression and war as the Trudeau government and the other political parties in the parliament are doing, in conjunction with the British government.
The Trudeau Liberals in Canada are in contempt of the modern principle that accountability begins at home. Governments must first and foremost recognize and guarantee the rights of their own people. Within the recognition of rights is the principle and right of all peoples of the world to their sovereignty and to live in peace without being threatened with war and subjected to regime change. It is unacceptable to use human rights and the rights of women as pretexts to promote aggression and war as the Trudeau government and the other political parties in the parliament are doing, in conjunction with the British government.
The same day that Canada launched this tour, a representative of the “White Helmets” spoke to the foreign affairs committee of the European Parliament stating, “We need a no-fly zone, with a civil protection. We asked for that two years ago. And unfortunately, no one answered. So today, we ask for a humanitarian corridor [another euphemism for military intervention – Ed. note] to send humanitarian aid to help civilians, and planes to drop aid.”
Peace and sovereignty are human rights
The imperialists constantly wail about human rights around the world and organize “non-governmental” human rights organizations to do propaganda against countries they wish to attack, such as Syria, Russia, China, the DPRK, Venezuela and others throughout Asia, Africa, Central and South America and the Caribbean. The purpose of this state-organized disinformation about human rights is to demobilize the peoples of the U.S. and Canada and their movement for an anti-war government, and in defence of the rights of all. The ruling elite want the people to passively accept interference in the sovereign affairs of others, up to and including predatory and inter-imperialist wars.
In this regard, on December 1, while speaking to the House of Commons Committee on Defence, Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan once again promoted the possibility of a combat role for Canada in Syria. “Our efforts right now are in Iraq. If the situation in Syria does change, we will always assess a situation based on consultations with our allies. However, right now we do not have, or intend to have, any involvement in Syria.”
In the 1990s, the U.S.-led NATO military alliance loudly denounced the former Yugoslav regime and waged an unrelenting campaign against it, in preparation for bombing it and fragmenting its state. In the wake of Yugoslavia’s destruction and dismemberment, the U.S. imperialists built their largest overseas military base in the conquered territory of Kosovo (Camp Bonisteel – ed.], which now serves as a staging area to interfere throughout Europe, West Asia and North Africa.
In the name of human rights, the U.S. imperialists applied crippling sanctions on Iraq for a decade and then they invaded and occupied the country, overthrew its government and dismantled its institutions. U.S. Secretary of State Madelaine Albright was asked in 1996 on the television program 60 Minutes about these sanctions that led to the death of more than 500,000 Iraqi children. In response to the question, “Is this price worth it?” Albright said, “I think this is a very hard choice. But the price – we think the price is worth it.”
The U.S.-led imperialist front also waged a vicious public relations campaign against the government of Libya and eventually attacked and destroyed it leaving the country in shambles and without a viable state. Speaking about the violent overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, U.S. war Secretary of State and candidate to be war President Hillary Clinton infamously remarked, “We came, we saw, he died.”
The current U.S.-led military and mercenary wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria, the huge military buildup in the Asia Pacific region, Japan, south Korea and the Philippines, and on Russia’s borders through NATO are all accompanied by ceaseless campaigns about human rights in the targeted countries.
Canadians want their government to affirm the rights of all at home as a contribution to the cause of human rights internationally.
Canadians should reject such state-organized public relations campaigns that use the issue of human rights to promote war and aggression. They should insist that the recognition and guarantee of rights begins at home. The presentation of a lack of rights anywhere in the world, especially when based on a profoundly reactionary ideological outlook, is no excuse to deny the peoples of the world their right to live in peace and to develop their countries through their own independent efforts without big power interference. Canadians want their government to play an honourable role in international affairs based on positive neutrality, contributing to all efforts that seek political rather than military solutions to differences between and amongst peoples and countries. Canadians want their government to affirm the rights of all at home as a contribution to the cause of human rights internationally.
Canadians should reject with contempt the Trudeau Liberals’ use of International Human Rights Day to prop up mercenary forces in a desperate attempt to prolong the conflict in Syria. It is an issue of grave importance to the peoples of the world to oppose interference in the affairs of Syria. The imperialists’ efforts to decide the future of countries and their peoples to serve their own empire-building, whether Syria, Iraq, Libya, Haiti, Cuba or any other country is precisely what has resulted in the most heinous and gross violations of human rights of the peoples of the world.
1.See TML Weekly October 1, 2016.
2.According to an article in Men’s Journal, Le Mesurier was a member of the Royal Green Jackets – the UK equivalent of the U.S. Army Rangers. He was deployed in Northern Ireland and Kosovo. The article notes he is also a private security trainer. “He trained several thousand citizens to become the oil and gas field protection force for the UAE, designed security infrastructure for Abu Dhabi – ‘everything from the potential of sea-level rise to political uprisings, shit you just don’t think of, so you’re sitting down with futurists in New York talking about what the world will be like in 30 years’ – and ensured the safety of the 2010 Gulf Cup in Yemen, a regional soccer tournament held in the midst of fears of a potential Al Qaeda uprising.”
In 2013, “with help from Turkey’s elite natural-disasters response team, AKUT, and $300,000 of seed funding from Japan, the U.K., and the U.S., he launched the first seven-day SCD [Syrian Civil Defence] course to teach 25 vetted Syrians.” Who vetted them and based on what criteria of course is not mentioned. The article also notes that Le Mesurier does not go into Syria as he “fears his presence alongside the team would compromise its local integrity.”
TML Weekly, December 10, 2016 – No. 48