[imc-ontario-stories] Tues., Sept. 6, 12 Noon, Toronto: Just Say NO to War, Bill Graham's Office

TASC tasc at web.ca
Wed Aug 31 10:59:24 PDT 2005


Just Say No To War
Tuesday, September 6, 12 Noon-1 pm
Office of War Minister Bill Graham
365 Bloor Street East, just half a block west of Sherbourne subway
Toronto

Homes not Bombs Toronto is hosting the first in a series of monthly vigils
to protest Canada's war economy and its rapidly escalating participation in
illegal wars and occupations, coups d'etat, and aiding and abetting crimes
of state terror.

 Join us the first Tuesday of every month, 12 Noon.

SPECIFICALLY, WE ARE ORGANIZING THESE PROTESTS TO CALL FOR:
1. An end to Canada's role in the military occupation of Afghanistan and
its complicity, with U.S. forces, in illegal detentions, torture, and
murder of detainees.
2. An end to Canada's shameful role in Haiti, from its facilitation of the
coup against legally elected Haitian President Aristide to its subsequent
support for an illegitimate regime and reign of terror against the
country's poorest citizens and democracy proponents.
3. An end to the production and export of weaponry, a multi-billion dollar
industry that sees millions of Quebec's SNC-TEC bullets, Kitchener,
Ontario's Diemaco machine guns, and Montreal's Bell-Textron "Hunter-Killer
Copters" used in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places.
4. An end to our permanent war economy which will soon see $20- billion a
year spent on war while millions scrape by in poverty without affordable
housing, accessible daycare, and other vitally needed social supports.
5. An end to the shady role of overseas "trainers" provided by RCMP and
Canadian police forces for Iraqi and other security forces, many of whom
are subsequently implicated in human rights abuses.
6. An end to Canada's ongoing role in the development and production of
space warfare, and an end to this country playing the role of testing
ground for military forces from around the world.
7. An end to the powerless Canadian thinking that such demands are
impossible to achieve. To paraphrase an old saying, we should continue to
demand the impossible so long as those who are currently possible remain
possible.

SOME BACKGROUND

HAITI
"Since a February 2004 coup backed by Canada, the US and France overthrew
the democratically elected Haitian government, liquidating 7,000 government
officials from office and dissolving Senate, political repression has been
the order of the day in Haiti. The constitutional Prime Minister, Yvon
Neptune, has been languishing in jail for over a year without even facing
charges, while Father Jean Juste, a priest who was anticipated to become
the leader of Haiti's most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, is also
in prison without charges.  A study by the University of Miami's law school
has documented escalating human rights abuses, and there is evidence of a
campaign of violence being waged against the Haitian poor living around
Port au Prince, in neighbourhoods where calls for the return of the
constitutional government have been loudest. In protest against ongoing
political persecution, Lavalas is boycotting the elections process."
--ISABEL MACDONALD, ZNET, AUGUST 10, 2005

AFGHANISTAN:
Human Rights Watch has documented Indiscriminate and Excessive Force Used
During Arrests, Arbitrary or Mistaken Arrests and Indefinite Detention,
Mistreatment in Detention at Bagram airbase
and  in other facilities, and numerous deaths in U.S. custody. Canada has
turned over detainees to U.S. forces, perhaps bound for torture at Bagram,
Guantanamo, or elsewhere. "Today, on Afghan soil, the United States is
maintaining a system of arrests and detention as part of its ongoing
military and intelligence operations that violates international human
rights law and international humanitarian law (the laws of war). In doing
so, the United States is endangering the lives of Afghan civilians,
undermining efforts to restore the rule of law in Afghanistan, and calling
into question its commitment to upholding basic rights." Its detention
system "operates almost entirely outside of the rule of law." --from the
report "Operation Enduring Freedom: Abuses by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan,"
HRW, March, 2004

In addition, U.S. and other "multinational" forces participate in continual
aerial bombings and patrols of the countryside which serve to terrorize the
local population. According to independent filmmaker Carmela Baranowska,
who was embedded with U.S. Marines and subsequently produced "Taliban
Country," "We uncovered U.S. abuse of Afghans as well as collusion with
local war/drug lords. The footage is a unique and unprecedented 'window'
onto an extremely traditional way of life which is being totally destroyed
by U.S. military operations, detention, abuse and torture. The U.S., in
effect, is making more Taliban."

How can Canada claim to be building civil society institutions in
Afghanistan when it works hand-in-hand with forces that are directly
undermining any concept of civil society? And if, as most experts agree,
the Al-Qaeda network and much of the Taliban were dispersed from
Afghanistan after 2001, who is it, exactly, that Canadian troops moving to
Kandahar will now be killing? Are the "detestable scumbags" referred to by
Canadian general Hillier in fact civilians whose body count is required to
maintain the perceived need for an illegal occupation? In remote war zones,
it is easy to kill anyone and label them "Al-Qaeda or Taliban" because no
one is there to independently monitor the situation.

In a recent trip to Afghanistan, Co-Directors of the Afghan Women's
Mission, Sonali Kolhatkar and James Ingalls found that media in the United
States have greatly exaggerated any victories for women's rights, and
downplayed the conditions of warlordism, oppression and poverty that still
flourish, and that the situation of women and girls was extremely dire and
that little had changed since the fall of the Taliban.

The Afghan Women's Mission reports (April 2005), "Most Afghans voted for
Hamid Karzai in the recent Presidential elections based on his promises to
undermine warlords. Unfortunately, Karzai recently announced that Northern
Alliance warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum was the country's new Military Chief
of Staff. Another warlord, Ismail Khan, was appointed Minister of Energy.
Many of the Afghan warlords were backed by the US in the 1980s and 90s, and
again in 2001 to help oust the Taliban. US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
claims that 'Karzai's decision to ...give a role to...regional strongmen is
a wise policy.' But all the Afghans we spoke with were dismayed and cited
warlordism as the most important problem facing Afghanistan today. Men like
Dostum and Khan have their 'hands soaked in the blood of our people,' we
were told. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission recently
released a report entitled 'A Call to Justice' based on surveys of
thousands of Afghans across the country, whose most ardent plea is for
there to be justice for past war crimes by warlords. US media have failed
to expose the crimes of these warlords, the Afghan people's hatred of them,
and the US responsibility for bringing them to power." April 2005

IRAQ: TRAINING FOR TORTURE?
We have grave concerns about what, exactly, is being taught to the 32,000
Iraqi police going through an international police training centre in
Amman, Jordan.

As of January 9, 2004, officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
(RCMP), Quebec City Police Service, Montreal Police Service, the Toronto
Police Service, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Cape Breton Police
Service and the Edmonton Police Service have been training Iraqi police in
Jordan. "The Canadian police officers heading to Jordan have a clear
responsibility - a clear mission: To teach the next generation of Iraqi
police officers proper investigative techniques and methods for restoring
law and order peacefully in rebuilding their community," stated RCMP
Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli.

International Cooperation Minister Aileen Carroll proudly stated at the
time, "Canada is playing an important role in helping Iraqis develop their
own capacity for the rule of law, security and good governance take hold in
a new Iraq."

In January, 2005, Human Rights Watch released a damning report, "The New
Iraq? Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraqi custody." It reported
on abuses by Iraqi police and intelligence forces, noting, "In its February
2004 report to the U.S. government on conditions in 2003, the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that Iraqi authorities had
"allegedly whipped persons deprived of their liberty with cables on the
back, kicked them in the lower parts of the body, including in the
testicles, handcuffed and left them hanging from the iron bars of the cell
windows or doors in painful positions for several hours at a time, and
burned them with cigarettes (signs on bodies witnessed by ICRC delegates). 
Several persons deprived of their liberty alleged that they had been made
to sign a statement that they had not been allowed to read."  Public
follow-up on this issue has been insufficient.

The Human Rights Watch report "details serious and widespread human rights
violations by Iraqi police against national security suspects, including
insurgents, and suspected common criminals since late 2003.  As of
mid-2004, Iraqi intelligence forces also committed serious violations,
principally against members of political parties deemed to constitute a
threat to state security. 

"Human Rights Watch investigations in Iraq found the systematic use of
arbitrary arrest, prolonged pre-trial detention without judicial review,
torture and ill-treatment of detainees, denial of access by families and
lawyers to detainees, improper treatment of detained children, and abysmal
conditions in pre-trial detention facilities. Trials are marred by
inadequate legal representation and the acceptance of coerced confessions
as evidence.  Persons tortured or mistreated have inadequate access to
health care and no realistic avenue for legal redress.  With rare
exception, Iraqi authorities have failedto investigateand punish officials
responsible for violations.  International police advisers, primarily U.S.
citizens funded through the United States, have turned a blind eye to these
rampant abuses.  

"The Iraqi Interim Government, led by Prime Minister Ayad 'Allawi and
presented to the international community as a sign that the violence and
abuses of the Saddam Hussein government are a thing of the past, appears to
be actively taking part, or is at least complicit, in these grave
violations of fundamental human rights. Nor has the United States, the
United Kingdom or other involved governments publicly taken up these issues
as a matter of concern."

As for what Canadian values are being taught, Edmonton police were cited in
an Amnesty International report released November 30, 2004, "Excessive and
lethal force? Amnesty International's concerns about deaths and
ill-treatment involving police use of tasers." as was the RCMP. Amnesty
notes that in 2004, the "RCMP Public Complaints Commission (an independent
watchdog agency) issued its final report into policing at the 2001 Summit
of the Americas in Quebec City. It found that excessive force was used by
the RCMP in dealing with the largely peaceful demonstrators. The Commission
chairwoman found that the RCMP tactical squad's use of an M26 Taser against
a protester who was lying face-down on the pavement, waiting to be
arrested, with one arm held up for a handcuff and the other over his head
flashing the peace sign, was a clear abuse of authority." The Ontario
Provincial Police are currently the subject of an ongoing inquiry into
their murder of unarmed First Nations protester Dudley George. Other
Canadian police forces represented in Jordan have been cited in Amnesty
reports too.

For more information on related issues (war economy, star wars), visit our
website at www.homesnotbombs.ca






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