Assyrians and the G20: Should we have Been part of it?

They say ‘any publicity is good publicity’ but I beg to differ!

The G20, the meeting of the world’s 8 developed and industrialized nations, as well as other emerging and developing nations, was held in Toronto this weekend (June 26,27) and it hasn’t been pretty! As is the case with these G8 and G20 meetings, the city where they are held, is often doomed and loses more than it can gain from this international exposure. In the case of Toronto, there has been massive protests, which turned violent and out of control in many instances. These protesters, some peaceful and others intent on getting their message across at any cost, didn’t give Toronto the best image it was hoping for to the outside world.

These protests were for various causes, and not exclusive to just one specific issue.  Some were marching for the G8 leaders to allocate more for poverty in 3rd world countries, to do more to protect the environment and some were even waving the Palestinian flag in solidarity with the people of Gaza and their suffering as a result of the Israeli blockade!

When I saw the Palestinian flag, I thought to myself: “did we miss a chance to represent the Assyrian people and plight on the world stage?” I mean the attention of Canadians and world media was fixated on Toronto this weekend, covering the G8, and this would be a great opportunity to get some much needed world exposure and attention. It all sounds great until you see the negative images and reputation now being associated with these protests.

It is true that the majority of protests were peaceful and intended to remain so, but others more radical groups (Black Bloc) were determined to infiltrate the masses and causes havoc in order to confuse the police.  Their tactics initially worked, but Toronto security forces caught up to them and arrested many of those who caused the destruction and mayhem in the streets of Toronto.

So while it would have helped if a few hundreds of Assyrians came out with flags and propaganda signs, their association with the overall negativity of the protest would have hurt more than helped.  Our Assyrian people in Iraq are going through some very tough times, and if there was ever a time to bring world and media attention to it, it would have been now at the G20.  But given the chaotic scenes in the streets of Toronto, I am afraid the message would have been lost in translation.  In this case, there was not even a need for translation.  The visuals are compelling enough, and a picture often says a thousand words!

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