Tuesday, February 7, 12 Noon-1 pm
Canadian Forces Base Downsview
Intersection of Kodiak and Sheppard Ave. West
(one major block west of Downsview subway station)
Look for the massive building and the HUGE recruitment ad on the side of the barracks.
(BY TTC, take Spadina/University line to the end of the line--Downsview--and cross the Allen Road going westward, about a five minute walk)
With the toppling of War Minister Bill Graham, the focus of our monthly "say no to war" vigils will be changing on a monthly basis for the time being, focusing on different sites throught the GTA that contribute to Canada's war economy and misery for the great majority of the world. Toronto is just jam-packed with military installations, war industries, and the political rah-rah-for-war infrastructure.
If you can help with carpooling to this vigil, please call us at (416) 651-5800, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us the first Tuesday of every month, 12 Noon, at a location to be determined.
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
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
BACK TO HOMES NOT BOMBS HOMEPAGE