Jo Cox: Murdered British MP remembered

Jo Cox: Murdered British MP remembered
Video: Following the murder of British MP Jo Cox, many remember her stance on Syria and how she attempted to be the voice of the voiceless, especially Syrian civilians.
6 min read
17 Jun, 2016
Watch now: Jo Cox was known for campaigning for Syria and Palestine [Getty]
Jo Cox, A pro-EU British MP, known for her support for Syrian refugees, was killed in a shock daylight street attack on Thursday, halting campaigning for the referendum on Britain's membership in the bloc just a week before the crucial vote.

The 41-year-old mother-of-two from the opposition Labour Party, was shot in the face while laying on the ground by a lone attacker in the village of Birstall in northern England, according to witnesses quoted by local media.

Cafe owner Clarke Rothwell told the Press Association the gunman was shouting "put Britain first".

"He shouted it about two or three times. He said it before he shot her and after he shot her," he said.

Cox, who was also reportedly stabbed, is the first British MP to be killed in office since Ian Gow was killed by a car bomb planted by the Irish Republican Army in 1990.

"He shot this lady once and then he shot her again... leant over shot her once more in the face area," Rothwell told the BBC.

Police said a 52-year-old man had been arrested and a firearm had been recovered from the scene.

Cox, a former aid worker, was only elected to parliament last year but had already made her name campaigning for the government to do more to aid Syrian refugees and for Britain to stay in the EU.

Many in the Syria Solidarity movement in particular were shocked by the death of what many viewed as a staunch advocate for the protection of civilians in Syria.  

In contrast to the broadly anti-interventionist stance of the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, Cox repeatedly called for the British government to do more to help Syrians, including the implementation of a No Fly Zone and participating in humanitarian food drops.  

"I remain deeply concerned about the lack of progress on civilian protection inside Syria, much of which is being perpetrated by the Assad regime," she said in comments made in the British Parliament.  

"Does the Secretary of State agree that ending Assad's indiscriminate use of barrel bombs is a key confidence-building measure that should be prioritised alongside efforts towards a formal ceasefire?"

She was actively engaged in Syria solidarity movements, with journalists and activists commenting on how she would often reach out and keep herself updated.

"She was a hero. I have known her in the past years and worked with her in my lobbying/advocacy efforts for Syria. She has stood with us when no one else did. Sad day for humanity. A true loss for us and for the world," wrote Syrian academic and NGO worker Rhouba Mhaissen on Facebook.

"Colleagues and I worked with, met, advised, and supported Jo Cox on Syria a number of times throughout her tragically short time as an MP. She was a tireless advocate of the Syrian cause," said activist Nour Baker.  

While many MPs shied away from taking a clear stance on the Syrian conflict, Jo Cox refused to remain neutral, saying, "There is nothing ethical about standing to one side when civilians are being murdered and maimed."  

"The voices of Syrians have been absent from this debate for far too long. They have been asking for protection for years and no one has been listening. It is now time for us to listen and to act," she said.

Accordingly, many Syrian activists that she worked to represent have spoken out mourning her death.

The young mother was also a tireless advocate for refugees, demanding that the UK government increase its quota and used her maiden speech in the British Parliament to discuss the positive effects that immigration had on her constituency.  

"We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us," she said.

Her pro-immigration and EU stance attracted criticism from the right, as did her abstention on the vote to bomb IS-held territory in Syria last year.

"I have decided to abstain. Because I am not against airstrikes per se, but I cannot actively support them unless they are part of a plan. Because I believe in action to address Isis, but do not believe that it will work in isolation,” she wrote in the Huffington Post in defence of her decision.  

"In my view it is only when civilians are protected that we will defeat ISIS, and until that is at the centre of our plan I will remain an outspoken advocate for that cause."

It would appear from the nature of her murder, that these positions may have cost her her life.

While many in the UK have become disenchanted with politicians, to many Jo Cox was an unusual idealist and independent voice, with principled positions on Syria, Palestine as well as domestic issues such as social care. 

In a statement following her death, her husband Brandon Cox said that she would want us to "fight against the hatred that killed her."