column was published in the
Feb. 24, 1999)
No room for violent protesters in Canada
By Leo Knight
enduring image of the week was surely the Mountie in Ottawa,
clothing ablaze, rolling in the snow to extinguish the flames.
Canadian police officer set alight by a Molotov cocktail tossed
by a Kurdish demonstrator.
Kurdish guerrilla leader Abdullah Ocalan was arrested by Turkish
commandos on Monday night, it touched off riotous demonstrations
around the world by his followers.
was not immune to the demonstrations triggered by events half a
world away. Virtually simultaneous protests broke out in
Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal.
Vancouver police officers were lucky to avoid violence in the
takeover of the Greek consulate on Hastings Street, their
counterparts in Ottawa and Montreal were not so fortunate.
Montreal, one officer suffered a severely broken cheekbone and
will lose an eye, courtesy of a rock to the head. Sixteen people
were arrested in that outbreak and then, in a stunning display
of arrogance, the Kurdish protesters took to the streets again
the following day to protest the arrest of those who attacked
Ottawa, protesters threw Molotov cocktails and chunks of ice at
the police lines. Officers who, I might add, were, for the most
part, drawn from their desk jobs and ordered into uniform to be
put in harm's way for just this event.
Vancouver, the protesters occupied the consulate, and some
doused themselves with gasoline threatening self-immolation.
I'm not suggesting we should be unsympathetic to the plight of
has led his group, the PKK or the Kurdistan Workers Party, in a
shooting war in southern Turkey since 1984. The old adage,
"One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"
proves true yet again.
when word of his arrest on Monday, allegedly with the support of
the Greek, U.S. and Israeli governments, spread, Kurds around
the world stormed embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions
in 22 cities around the world, taking hostages and clashing with
Canadian police officers tried to stop the Kurdish expatriates
from occupying buildings and taking consular officials hostage,
violence erupted against the police on Canadian soil. That is
all the protesters are in this country legally -- and I would
caution against any such leap -- they are here seeking refuge
from the political turmoil in lands from whence they came.
matters not a whit how upset they are at the arrest of one of
their leaders. If they choose to protest our government's
response, or lack thereof, to the plight of the Kurds, fair
enough, as long as the protest remains peaceful.
violence erupts, aimed at our police, the line has been crossed.
They become criminals and should be treated as such.
please, I don't want to hear all about how these people have
been deprived of their homeland for centuries. First, it's not
an excuse, and second, the argument does not bear up to
Kurds are descended from the ancient Medes. The last significant
hero was Saladin, who in the 12th century, defended Jerusalem
for the Muslims against the Christian Crusades of Richard the
First. They are not so much an incipient nation as much as a
collection of nomadic tribes, more like each other than anyone
fact their tribal infighting has been a significant problem in
the pursuit of their "national dream."
a people, they have been persecuted primarily by the countries
who harbour significant Kurdish populations -- Iraq, Iran, Syria
there's the rub. Getting those ruthless countries to agree on
anything like a homeland for the Kurds -- Kurdistan -- is next
to, if not totally, impossible.
let's not forget either that Kurds joined with Turkey in the
pogroms and genocide against the Armenians, another tragic
people, in the early part of this century. They are not without
the blood of innocents on their hands.
What I'm suggesting is that the Kurdish situation is not a simple one.
We should be sympathetic, but not to the exclusion of common sense.
then there's Svend.
then there's Svend.
content with disturbing the mores of most of the province by
being pictured in newspapers blowing into the ear of his
26-year-old Cuban lover, Max, the irascible NDP MP just had to
get into the middle of the action in Ottawa.
personally, I couldn't care less whose ear Robinson's tongue is
in -- as long as it isn't mine. Frankly, he could engage in a
"Roman orgy" with a herd of goats, three eunuchs and
Dennis Rodman in a rubber nun suit for all I care.
there he was in Ottawa trying to broker a "deal" with
the protesters and positioning himself between them and the
deal? What the hell for? These people crossed the line. Good
Lord, they threw Molotov cocktails at the police lines. They set
a cop on fire. What the hell does it take to make people in this
country mad enough to stop mollycoddling lunatics like these?
should have happened is more simple. When the rocks, ice blocks
and Molotovs started to fly, the police tactical troop should
have moved in and arrested those responsible using as much force
as necessary to effect those arrests. Period.
is no place for violent protest in this peaceful country.
includes "White Swan" who should have been dinged for
obstruction. Because of his interference, no arrests have been
made and none are likely. Apparently, according to Svend, its OK
to torch a cop as long as Canadians can be sympathetic to the
cause of the discontent. We can always work out a deal.
You get the feeling the wheel is still spinning but the hamster is dead?