Tuesday 1 May 2007

The Canadian Afghanistan Torture Scandal

If you haven't been following this in the news, and maybe you haven't as some major news media haven't really been covering it, there is an excellent post about it on rabble.ca by Derrick O'Keefe.

Basically, Canadian soldiers have been handing prisoners of war over to local Afghanistan military and the local military have been torturing prisoners and doing other nasty things all in violation of the Geneva Convention, and the Canadian government has known about it since at least last year. Stephen Harper and the defence minister have basically denied that there has been anything wrong and that everything is a Taliban lie.

Here are some key quotes from Derrick's article:

On Wednesday, The Globe and Mail delivered the knockout punch to Harper's and the Conservatives' evasions and denials. The headline summed it all up, “What Ottawa doesn't want you to know: Government was told detainees often faced 'extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial'.”

A 2006 report on Afghanistan compiled for Foreign Affairs Canada provides proof that the Conservative government knew about all of this, contrary to everything O'Connor and the PM have been saying for months - and what they, incredibly, continued to assert in the House this week. Key passages of the Afghanistan report were blacked out, but The Globe and Mail obtained an original copy. The censored content, what Ottawa didn't want us to know, includes the following passages:

    Despite some positive developments, the overall human rights situation in Afghanistan deteriorated in 2006.

    Extra judicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial are all too common. Freedom of expression still faces serious obstacles, there are serious deficiencies in adherence to the rule of law and due process by police and judicial officials. Impunity remains a problem in the aftermath of three decades of war and much needed reforms of the judiciary systems remain to be implemented. (The Globe and Mail, A1, April 25, 2007)

... Canada was in violation of the Geneva Convention by handing over detainees to almost certain torture and abuse.

This includes, lest we forget, handing over prisoners to U.S. authorities, who have established their own facilities for “enemy combatants” at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and the infamous Guantanamo base on occupied Cuban territory.

Those who have defended the current NATO mission as a “humanitarian intervention” have lost a lot of credibility this week.

It's time to stop the lying and killing and support our troops and the people of Afghanistan and bring our troops home. In the past, as Canadians, our troops would have been helping to stop the fighting and help rebuild infrastructure. Instead, our current and previous government decided to end our historic and proud tradition as peacekeepers, and make us warmongers - killers for hire for an oil pipeline - instead. Now we are war criminals. Remember who decided to make us war criminals next federal election time (the Conservatives and Liberals).

For more information on the recent history of the conflict in and about Afghanistan, check out James Laxer's series on rabble.ca

More cover-up here.
The Conservatives signed a deal regarding prisoner transfer, but won't say whether they are being transfered to Guantanamo or where.

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