Dr. Jeffery Brown, a professor at UNB Fredericton’s History Department, started an independent petition demanding the university administration change its politics regarding reactions to world events.
Started March 30th, the petition, titled “No more selective sympathy. Support Non-European victims of terrorist violence as well!” and housed on the popular petition website change.org, has garnered over 140 signatures from supporters as of April 2nd.
Brown cites recent examples of world events about which the Administration has sent out communications such as Brussels, Belgium and Paris, France, while remaining silent about impactful events in other places such as Lahore, Pakistan and Iraq.
On March 23, 2016, UNB’s President Eddy Campbell’s office issued a statement about the Brussels bombings (March 22), that stated: “This senseless act of terrorism on innocent people shakes our international community to the core, but also impresses on us the need to unite and be strong.”
No similar statements were issued about the Lahore, Pakistan, bombings four days later (March 27) which killed at least 75 people (twice as many as Brussels) and injured almost 350 people.
The text of the petition, addressed to UNB’s President, reads as follows:
“We, the undersigned members of the UNB community, applaud your expressions of sympathy for the victims of the terrorist bombings in Brussels and Paris. We are deeply disturbed, however, by the absence of similar statements in response to violence against civilians outside of Europe. In Ankara, Turkey, for example, bombings in February and March of this year killed at least 67 people and wounded some 185. Three days following the Brussels attacks at least 41 were killed and 105 injured in the bombing of a soccer stadium in Iskanderiyah, Iraq. Two days later over 70 were killed, and at least 300 wounded, in a bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. The silence from your office following these and many other atrocities suggests that European victims of terrorism are somehow more worthy of our sympathy than others. We recognize that such Eurocentrism is typical of the mainstream media in Canada and the United States, but believe that our university should hold to a higher standard of critical intelligence and cultural sensitivity. The UNB Strategic Plan highlights our commitment to enhanced “global engagement,” education about “other cultures,” and the development of “relationships with international communities.” It also aspires to a “positive learning and working environment” for all members of the UNB community. This surely includes the many among us who have come from the world beyond North America and Europe. Such ideals are poorly served by messages of sympathy and solidarity that implicitly favor Europeans over people from other parts of the world. As the preeminent representative of UNB, we urge you to better express the values of our institution either by being truly inclusive in your official responses to violence against civilians or by refraining from such responses entirely.”
The petition can be signed here.
Sophie M. Lavoie is a member of the NB Media Co-op.