“It might say ‘unspeakable acts.’ It might say ‘unacceptable.’ It might even say ‘grievous,’ and it might say that more than once,” says Dan Themane, Canada’s representative to the United Sidelines, a spin-off of the main assembly of the United Nations created to provide a safe space for nations to speak about atrocities without having to actually do anything about it. Themane was discussing the possibility of chastising Assad – via an angry letter- for what appears to have been another chemical attack on the citizens of Syria.
“It might even say ‘intolerable.’ And you know what that means right? That means we would really like to not have to tolerate it. Really, really like to not have to. If that’s ok with both Assad, and Russia. Just please don’t make us ask again. And again. And again.”
Themane explained that all those attending the upcoming emergency letter-writing session of the United Sidelines assembly were keenly aware of the pressure to stop the horrific suffering in Syria. “But it’s not that simple. Yes, we understand that thousands of people are dying, many of them in ways that can only be described as atrocious. But you have to remember, these people live on the other side of an entirely arbitrary and mostly invisible line that we are currently at a bit of a loss to work out how to get around. Hence the letter.”