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(November 1, 2001, Gazette)

Will justice be done?

Jeffery PardyPicture yourself in the engineering building, listening to a lecture, when a man in a suit walks in the door. “Excuse me, sorry for interrupting your class, but there is a situation in the building ....”

Last Thursday’s anthrax scare in the engineering building turned out to produce nothing more than a false alarm and a couple of games of hangman by bored students. Yet, the situation begs the question, are we in any real danger? The phrase “the world is going to hell in a handbag” is one I have heard with increased frequency lately, and it is impossible to tell whether a real terrorist attack will hit St. John’s or not.

Perhaps the biggest worry is the possibility of a virus being brought over from the mainland. Even though there may not be traces of anthrax on your desk or books, there is the possibility that it could end up in any product you buy from the grocery store. With all this to worry us, is there any doubt that things could be any worse?

Well, consider these facts: Afghanistan has been at war since 1979. Well, one could say Canada is also at war right now. Yet our view of this war is not the same as the average Afghanistan citizen, where the horrors of violent death, dead bodies, and neighbours screaming in agony are just outside their door. In a report issued by UNICEF on children in Kabul, Afghanistan, it was found that three-quarters of the children had lost a member of their family due to the wars, one-third had seen a family member die, and at least half had seen people killed by bombs, gunfire and landmines. Two-thirds of the children had watched their houses being bombed, nine out of 10 children suggested they would be killed by the wars and pondered if life was worth living.

In Afghanistan right now, 165 of 1,000 live births result in infant moralities, while in Canada the ratio is six out of 1,000. Only 13 per cent of the Afghanistan population has access to safe water. Only 16 per cent of the female population and 46 per cent of the male can read. In Canada, almost all of the population can read to some degree and has access to safe water.

It is unlikely that the world will ever get rid of terrorists. It doesn’t seem like this is the Bush administration’s objective anyway. They want revenge for the brutal and horrific attacks on Sept. 11, and who can blame them? Whoever was the culprit of these attacks deserves to get what’s coming to them.

However, the people of Afghanistan do not deserve to have their homes and hospitals bombed for an action they were not a part of. As the headlines talk of the deaths of innocent civilians, one wonders if justice will ever be done.