Recently there’s been some talk about how our own Singapore MFA’s statement about the current crisis in Gaza is severely wanting.
I’ve written an open letter addressing Mr K Shanmugam, our Minister for Foreign Affairs regarding this.
The open letter can be read here: http://goo.gl/kXDHvU
I thought of seeking your help in publicizing this letter so that there can be as many signatories to it as possible and I aim to send it to Mr Shanmugam’s email address as well as Facebook page by Friday, 25th July 2014.
To get people to sign it, here is the URL to the Google form: http://goo.gl/CVdk47
Authored by Mohamad Abu Ali
To SIGN This Open Letter, Click Here: http://goo.gl/CVdk47
Re: The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)’s comments in response to the situation in Gaza in July 2014.
Dear Mr K Shanmugam,
We, the undersigned, would like to address the following statement by a spokesman for the MFA in response to media queries on the rocket attacks on Israel and the situation in Gaza:
1 “We are deeply concerned about the escalating violence. The rocket attacks on Israel must cease immediately. At the same time, we call on Israel to exercise maximum restraint and do its utmost to prevent the loss of innocent lives. All sides must urgently find ways to de-escalate the situation, work towards a ceasefire and ensure the safety and security of all civilians.”
We are a group of Singaporeans coming from a broad spectrum of political, religious and ethnic groups and send this message to you representing no political, religious or ethnic affiliation whatsoever. We are united by our common citizenry and love for Singapore and what our country stands for. We are also Singaporeans who would like to identify ourselves as people who stand up for humanity and justice.
As a civilised society, we have been brought up through our excellent education system to value our way of life which emphasises justice, meritocracy and equality for all regardless of race, language and religion. These are noble values that do not only apply in our country but should be a philosophy and outlook towards how we view events in the world (in light of increasing globalisation) and how we, even as a small island nation, should respond to these events.
We would also like to state in no uncertain terms that we represent a majority of rational and civil minded Singaporeans who firmly believe and stand for justice, and who absolutely denounce and condemn terrorism in all its forms, no matter who perpetrates it – be it by an adversary of ours or an ally, be it by Israel or Palestine – and no matter the reason used to justify it.
In light of all the above mentioned points, we would like to express also our deep concern about the implications, tone of and choice of words in MFA’s statement on the situation in Gaza. Our concerns are encapsulated in the following points:
- The statement implies that the massive aerial strikes by the Israel Defence Forces aimed at purported terrorist targets in Gaza which has so far resulted in the unacceptable and completely avoidable deaths of a significant number (which is still rising) of innocent civilians, including women and children, are completely justified.
- The statement implies that the pretext of “the right to defend itself” justifies the collective punishment by Israel of an entire city full of civilians – including infant children and women – who had nothing to do with the rocket attacks perpetrated by Hamas against Israel.
- The statement implies that Singapore is either in agreement with or chooses to be neutral about the Israeli policy of responding to terror with (more) terror, even if it means there will be collateral damage and civilian casualties. However, Israel’s actions and consistency with which it has achieved massive civilian casualties to advance its objectives shows Israel is completely disinterested in avoiding collateral damage and civilian casualties but is still entrenched in the old policy of massive bombings of civilian areas adopted by both 2 Allies and Axis powers in World War II in order to weaken the morale or aggravate the anger of the adversary.
- The statement seems to imply and might come across to the rest of the world that Singapore, in the interests of realpolitik, is not sincerely interested in the ideals set out in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states in one of its statements that 3“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”.
- In no way does the statement even have an inkling of condemnation – either implied or clearly stated – of the Israel Defence Force’s unjustified use of excessive force against an entire civilian population while deliberately worded to appear that it does, in order to influence the sentiments of the public of Singapore and the world stage at large.To say, “…we call on Israel to exercise maximum restraint and do its utmost to prevent the loss of innocent lives…” does NOT in any way imply condemnation AT ALL, but implies agreement with Israeli policy of collective punishment. It however does say Israel should exercise restraint in its massive bombardment of civilian areas in Gaza – which to us, is a statement against rationality and logic, considering the real situation on the ground.On the other hand, to say “Rocket attacks on Israel must cease immediately” does appear to imply condemnation of said rocket attacks on Israel. It would therefore only be consistent on our part to also equally condemn the disproportionate use of force which can legitimately be said to be terrorism by Israel against the civilian population in Gaza.
In comparison, we would like to highlight another statement by the MFA released in August 2013, concerning the situation in Syria:
4“Singapore remains deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation in Syria, which has already claimed the lives of many innocent Syrians as well as affected the stability of the region. The reported use of chemical weapons is a deplorable act that can never be justified under any circumstances. As an early party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Singapore strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons and firmly believes in their eradication. Only a political solution will end the violence in Syria. In this regard, we call on the Syrian Government to urgently work with all parties, including the United Nations and the Arab League, to resolve the conflict peacefully.”
We would like to bring your attention to the underlined words in the above quoted statement:
“The reported use of chemical weapons is a deplorable act that can never be justified under any circumstances. As an early party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Singapore strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons and firmly believes in their eradication.”
We would like to urge the MFA to reassess and reconsider its words regarding the present issue in Gaza. Perhaps a statement such as this would be more helpful –
“The reported use of excessive force by the Israel Defence Forces against the civilian population of Gaza is a form of collective punishment that is a deplorable act that can never be justified under any circumstances. Singapore strongly condemns the use of collective punishment that almost always involves mass civilian casualties as collateral damage. In this regard, we call on Israel and Palestine to urgently work with all parties, including the United Nations to resolve the conflict peacefully.”
Mr K Shanmugam Sir, we completely understand the delicate situation that Singapore, as a physically small island state, is in, and that on certain matters, practicality and our interests in terms of security and economic prosperity should be prioritised.
We also appreciate our Singapore Ministry of Defence’s policy of not being directly involved in a military capacity in foreign conflicts but to strengthen diplomatic ties with other nations by providing humanitarian aid to those affected by such conflicts, most of whom are often innocent civilians, women and children.
There are, however, certain situations that require clear lines to be drawn. We need not wait for a distant crisis to directly affect us and our interests as a country to take a stand and make a clear statement condemning terrorism.
What we are asking is for consistency in word and deed in order for us to gain the respect of an increasingly growing number of nations around the world, some of whom we have important diplomatic and economic relations with, that stand against the unjust brutalities perpetrated by the military regime of Israel.
We would like to conclude this letter by quoting the words of the Nobel Peace Prize Winner (1984) Archbishop Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
The Conscientious, Peace-Loving People of Singapore.
1MFA Spokesman’s Comments in response to media queries on the rocket attacks on Israel and the situation in Gaza, 10 July 2014
2Strategic Bombing During World War II
3United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
4 MFA Spokesman’s Comments in response to media queries on the situation in Syria http://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/media_centre/press_room/pr/2013/201308/press_20130830.html
To SIGN This Open Letter, Click Here: http://goo.gl/CVdk47
EMAIL: [email protected]