Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
This says a lot about Canada, our shift to the right, our fear of the other, our obliviousness to our duties under international law and our abject failure to live up to the principles of basic Canadian decency. It also a reflection of the extent that American conservative Republican party style politics has crept into Canada. Canada remains the only country not to demand that the Americans repatriate their nationals from Guantanamo. England did it, Australia did, and those people are now free to walk the streets -- there have been no problems.
Few people in Canada are aware or care about what we, under both Liberal and Conservative governments have done to Canadian citizens who happen to be Muslim in the name of the war or terrorism, or more cynically, in the name of kowtowing to American neocons. Omar Khadr is a young man, and even some of his jailers say that "Omar Khadr is "salvageable" and a "good kid," but a prolonged detention at Guantanamo Bay could turn the Canadian into a radical, say the U.S. soldiers who guard him.
His guards describe him as a "likable, funny and intelligent young man," according to documents from Foreign Affairs, which also state the 21-year-old hopes Canada will get him out of the U.S.-run detention centre in Cuba.
The reports, based on visits to Khadr by department officials in April and March, say American soldiers posted to the detention centre seem "to look out for him by stopping by to chat on occasion, convincing him to meet with his lawyers and encouraging him to 'keep his nose clean.'"
Unfortunately for Omar, Stephen Harper is in the process of "getting tough" on young offenders right here in Canada, he is even proposing life sentences in adult prisons for 14 year olds -- a policy which he has been probably been told by the professionals at Correctional Services Canada, is wrong headed and counter productive. Short of receiving a direct order from his boss, George Bush, there is no chance that Harper will do anything to ensure the release of a child soldier from Guantanamo. As far as he, and sadly, many Canadians are concerned, he should stay there till he dies.
Not all Canadians though, there is one very respected one who disagrees... Romeo Dallaire asks, Who are the real criminals in Omar Khadr's case?
Entering her third week at the foot of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the older sister of Toronto-born Omar Khadr remains on hunger strike in an attempt to solidify public support for her brother to receive a fair trial in Canada. Omar, who speaks five languages fluently, has been held in the American detainment camps in Guantanamo Bay since he was 15. He was captured in 2002 while serving as a translator for Arab militants, after a Special Forces operation left an American soldier critically wounded.
Since his imprisonment, his case has been plagued by allegations of torture, mistreatment and falsified military records doctored to make him appear guilty of the crimes of those adults around him. His older sister Zaynab has spent years campaigning for his return to Canada, but has met fierce opposition from both sides of the political spectrum.
The family, who voted for Stephen Harper, has been condemned by the left for comments suggesting they disapproved of Canada's lax drug laws and generous allowances towards homosexuals. Similarly, the right has condemned the family for their anti-war stance and rhetoric suggesting that Omar was justified in any actions he took after six hours of bombardment killed the adults around him. In her weblog detailing each day of her hunger strike, Zaynab detailed visiting the Museum of Civilization last week where she was attracted to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, stating that “if we followed it, we would truly be a great people”. Hosted at TheKhadrLegacy.com, a website built by the family to update both supporters and detractors on the updates in Omar’s case, the weblog also details her Tuesday visit to a Rideau doctor who suggested that fatigue and malnutrition were responsible for her decreased energy and stamina heading into her third week. Challenged by AM640’s John Oakley earlier this week about how far she was willing to take her hunger strike, Zaynab responded that she was willing to go to any length, just as she hoped any Canadian would for their own younger brother. "The split-second decision of a terrified child caught in unimaginable circumstance does not make him a terrorist", opines Zaynab, critical of the common sentiment that her younger brother is a hardened Jihadist. "I just want to be as normal as any normal unknown Canadian", wrote Omar from his prison cell in a letter to the CBC in June. Canada is now the only Western government to support the detainment camps, as even the United States has condemned its own "black hole" in which civil, international and military laws have not applied. Both presidential candidates in the American election this November have said that they intend to close down the Guantanamo camps. Prosecutors, attorneys and defendants have all announced they are boycotting the proceedings, or resigning rather than being forced to serve in a system that has been condemned internationally as a "kangaroo court". The Supreme Court ruled five months ago that Canadian government had acted illegally in the matter of Khadr, by being complicit in the torture of a Canadian citizen. The United Nations, Canadian Bar Assocation, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have all condemned the refusal to provide Khadr a fair trial in a Canadian court. He is the only prisoner to have cooperated fully with authorities, and has begged to be allowed to return to Canada.
The Khadrs’ mother reports feeling torn between her loyalty to her children, and her belief that Zaynab is needlessly risking harm to herself. “She could die and it would make no difference” she says, “Canada is just not going to let him come home”.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
This is the guy who was waving bottles of fake anthrax around at the UN - remember that? This is the guy who was showing the world pictures of Iraqi mobile bio-labs that we know now (and he knew then) were completely made up! http://www.noahshachtman.com/archives/002725.html
So he is endorsing Obama? In a rational sane America, that would be a bad thing. Who's next? Rumsfeld? Chtheny? Charlie Manson?
It's doublethink of the worst sort. Bush and his crime family are now rightly denigrated for the invasion of Iraq, but somehow Powell escapes the calumny if not blame and then goes on to be seen as some kind of elder statesman, whom you look to for leadership! I find this wrong.
Oh, I know, Powell is really a good man and just did those things because he had to, while he actually worked behind the scenes for good. Just as Obama is excused or even applauded for idiotic and counterproductive statements like saying he would bomb Pakistan, and wants to ramp up, what I guarantee you, is an ANOTHER unwinnable war in Afghanistan because we somehow think he actually has good intentions and is lying just so he can win and then turn into the messiah.
For those who think that an endorsement from that man is a good thing; go ahead and crow over the endorsement of a despicable lackey, serial liar, and war criminal if you like. I just hope you all really enjoy the escalation of the war in Afghanistan and the promised bombing of Pakistan.
For the record I support Obama, but only as the lesser evil.
Friday, October 17, 2008
At least that is the mainstream view. What is not being discussed is the effect that new regulations had on Canadian would be voters, which required them to provide photo-identification at polling booths. This new regulation was NOT communicated to the public. The first I heard of it was on the day of the election! Even a passport was not sufficient in itself to prove identity! It would have been a simple matter to include this new information on the voting registration card that is sent to all voters, but it was not. Stupidity? Indifference? Incompetence? Not likely.
I have no idea how many Canadians were disenfranchised as a result of that policy, but CBC ran a story on election day where they talked to a number of people who were unable to vote since they were not able to produce their "papers". One disenfranchised voter is too many.
The number one piece of photo ID used in Canada is the drivers licence. So who is least like to have a drivers licence? Answer, poor people, minorities, urban people, and of course, immigrants. Who is least likely to vote for a heartless, love the rich and big business, government? Poor people, minorities, urbanites, and immigrants.
Good job Stephen! You should send those Republican campaign advisers a big bonus! Oh, what's that? You did? Never mind.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
(عمر أحمد خضر) to his home in Canada. To it's shame, Canada is the only country in the world that has not asked to have it's nationals in Guantanamo Bay returned.
Even if Khadr is guilty, which is doubtful, he was 15 years old at the time of the alleged (he has never been convicted) offence. Under the Child Soldier Protocol, which both the United States and Canada have ratified, combatants under age 18 cannot be held criminally responsible. The Protocol requires governments to help child soldiers who must be helped to recover and reintegrate into society. It does not specifically bar prosecution of child soldiers but says they should not be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and that they cannot be subjected to life imprisonment without possibility of release. The United States government is seeking life imprisonment for Khadr in a trial which will take place this fall.
I asked her if she was in communication with her brother and she said they can send letters, but it takes a long time and that they are censored. She told me that she would remain on the hill, "as long as it takes".
We will be following this story as it develops so check back soon to read more.
Click here to visit the Khadr families blog and to read Zaynab's thoughts on her hunger strike.
Click here to read "The Unending Torture of Omar Khadr" in Rolling Stone magazine
Update: CBC television will be airing a documentary tonight (Oct. 16, 2008) on the upcoming trial of Omar Khadr.
Update 2: I visited Zaynab again today. She is in good spirits but a little tired and weak. She has not been spoken to by any official, although a few good Canadians took it upon themselves to suggest that she "go back where she came from", not knowing or caring that she, as she told me, was born in Ottawa, so is "as home as I will ever be". She did say that most people were friendly and kind. As we talked she was making simple black felt ribbons with the name "Omar" in white. Zaynab told that me she is afraid that Omar will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Are the people who support Sarah Palin any different? No, the crowd of Palin supporters in the video below represents the absolute worst of America, the bottom feeders, the creationists, haters, bigots, and maniacs. What struck me is the obvious lack of intellect of the people in the video. I wonder how many in that mob could actually define the word "terrorist" let alone "socialism"? There have always been idiots and yahoos in politics, what's new is the way the Palin/McCain ticket is pandering to them in an apparent attempt to create the conditions for social unrest in America. The title for this post is deliberately provocative, but it is a genuine possibility. Given the apparent seething, roiling hatred we see in this video, I cannot see Obama having any success in his presidency. It is obvious that from the day he takes office he will be under constant vicious attack from people that I can only describe as genuine enemies, not political foes, not opponents, but enemies. The only question is when will the real violence begin?
I didn't think it could much worse than the hatred and stupidity evinced in the videos above, but it gets worse... The only other question I have, is why do we have to hear about this stuff from Al Jazeera and not CNN?