Montreal Solidarity for Aleppo and Anger for Putin

Published in The Link online on Dec. 19 2016

Cars honked in support as they passed under Syrian flags and picket signs on the corner of Dr. Penfield Ave. and Redpath St., one block away from the Russian consulate in Montreal.

That corner marked the beginning of a march to show solidarity for Aleppo’s citizens on Sunday, Dec. 17 in the face of international inaction as Russian-led forces bomb the city’s civilian population.

The demonstration, starting just after noon, took the crowd of well over 150 people to the nearby consulate where they chanted and sang until 1 p.m. They dispersed shortly after.

“We’re here because we’re against the assassination of civilians, children, and women in Syria,” said Larissa Dembélé, a UQAM student who came out with three of her friends.

“We’re showing solidarity for the Syrian people,” added Manal Kandi, of the same group.

The demonstration was organized by the Commité de solidarité avec le peuple syrien à Montréal. Organizers brought in a van, from which they played Syrian music and handed out picket signs.

In front of the Russian consulate, it also served as a mobile loudspeaker for speeches in French and Arabic.

The crowd was a cross-section of Montreal: one moment saw a woman holding up a “Assad=Hitler” sign beside a young woman waving an LGBTQ flag with a drawn-on peace sign. Many families came, some with young children held aloft with the signs.

Of the signs, some drew parallels to social slogans, citing Black Lives Matter with “Syrian Lives Matter,” or Je Suis Charlie with “Je Suis Alep.” Others portrayed well-known photographs of the war in Syria.

Still others decried previous western intervention in the Middle East, saying “If the Syrian people were to bleed oil, the world would rush to their rescue.”

Recurring chants through the demonstration singled out Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, the leaders of Russia and Syria, with particular hatred. Cries of “Putin Assassin,” and “Putin the Dog,” mingled with “Bashar Assad, this is a body you can’t hide,” and “Syria Syria, we will never let you die.”

Sarah Sirois, one of the UQAM students, assured it—“I’ll be back,” she said.