Making Peace Vigil

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Archive for May, 2010

BREAKING THE LAW: THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT AND OMAR KHADR

Posted by strattof on May 23, 2010

 THE BACKGROUND

●Omar Khadr was born in Toronto and is a Canadian citizen. ●He was 15 when he was taken into custody by US forces in Afghanistan in 2002, after a gun battle in which he was seriously wounded. ●He was detained, first at the US air base in Bagram in Afghanistan, and then at the US Guantánamo Bay Prison in Cuba where he remains incarcerated. ●There is compelling evidence he was tortured during his interrogation at both locations. In 2003 and 2004, the Canadian government became directly involved in the torture when it sent CSIS agents to interrogate Mr Khadr at Guantánamo, knowing he had been subjected to prolonged sleep deprivation and isolation. ●The main charge against Omar Khadr is that he threw a grenade that killed a US soldier. His trial by military tribunal is scheduled to begin in August.

THE LAW AND OMAR KHADR

  • Under Canadian law, an accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Although Omar Khadr has spent nearly 8 years in US military detention, he has not yet been tried in a court of law.
  • The evidence against Omar Khadr is unreliable. No eyewitnesses saw him throw the grenade. It has been revealed that US soldiers were throwing grenades at the time of the incident, raising the possibility that friendly fire may have caused the soldier’s death. It has also been determined that Mr. Khadr was crippled, blinded, and trapped beneath rubble at the time the grenade was thrown.
  • The only real evidence against Omar Khadr is what he confessed to under torture. 

THE LAW AND THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT

  • In January 2010, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the Canadian government had violated Omar Khadr’s “right to liberty and security of person” under the Canadian charter of Rights and Freedoms when it sent CSIS agents to interrogate him under “oppressive circumstances” and then shared the information with US officials.
  • The Court said of the interrogation that it breached “the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”
  • The Court also ruled that Mr. Khadr’s Charter rights continue to be violated, given the role of the information in his upcoming trial.
  • Finally, the Court advised the government that a request for repatriation would be an appropriate remedy to the violation of Mr. Khadr’s rights.
RESPECT FOR THE RULE OF LAW

Four months have passed since Canada’s highest court ruled that the government is breaking the law and must remedy the situation. The government has a legal obligation to act, but it has failed to do so. Does the Canadian government think it is above the law?

The proper functioning of a democracy depends on the government respecting the rule of law. Respect for the rule of law would lead the Prime Minister to request the United States to repatriate Omar Khadr.

Let Stephen Harper know that you want the Canadian government to act according to the law: 613-992-4211 or pm@pm.gc.ca  

 INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT

By not seeking Omar Khadr’s repatriation, the Canadian government has also broken a number of international laws.

  • Cape Town Principles on Child Soldiers (1997), signed by Canada: This document defines “child soldier” as “any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity.” According to the Cape Town Principles, child soldiers are to be reintegrated into society, not punished. If Omar Khadr’s case goes to trial, he will be the first ever Canadian juvenile to be tried for war crimes.
  • UN Convention Against Torture (1975), signed by Canada: Evidence shows that Omar Khadr was tortured both at Bagram and Guantánamo. While at Bagram, he was interrogated by Sergeant Joshua Claus, who was later convicted in the murder of a Bagram prisoner. In 2004, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported that interrogation techniques used at Guantánamo were “tantamount to torture.”
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), signed by Canada: The rights guaranteed by the Declaration include the right of prisoners to not be tortured, to have their case reviewed by a court of law, and to a fair trial. Eight long years have passed and Omar Khadr’s case has still not been reviewed by a court of law. Trial by military tribunal is not a fair trial for a number of reasons, including that it does not adequately exclude hearsay evidence and it restricts a defendant’s access to evidence.
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HOUSING CRISIS

Posted by strattof on May 19, 2010

Canada faces a housing crisis as 3 million Canadians (1.5 million households) live in inadequate or unsuitable dwellings or face shelter costs that are unaffordable. Regina is no exception with over 7,000 households living in such housing.   

  • Regina no longer has cheap housing. Rents in Regina rose from an average of $539 in 2006 to $752 in 2009, a 40% increase in three years.  
  • Rental housing is hard to find. The rental apartment vacancy rate in Regina fell to under 1% in 2008 and 2009, with little improvement forecast for this year. The number of rental apartments has declined, with little new rental construction and the conversion of existing apartments to condominiums.
  • Housing is unaffordable for many. In 2006, 15,600 households in Regina spent 30% or more of their income on shelter – a level that indicates unaffordability. 41% of tenant households devoted more than 30% of their income to shelter.   
  • Housing in Regina is often substandard. In 2006, 8% of Regina dwellings were in need of major repairs. In the central area of the city 15% were substandard.  

 HOMELESSNESS 

  • In Regina, an estimated 345 people slept in homeless shelters every night, with close to 3,000 in homeless centres at some time during the year.
  • A May 22, 2008 count in Saskatoon found 260 individuals homeless, including 32 children.
  • A recent Salvation Army survey found that approximately one in nine Canadian adults–close to 3 million people–said that they have experienced homelessness or come close to experiencing homelessness in their life. In Saskatchewan the figure is one in five.

 HOUSING AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

  • Individuals and families at low and middle incomes are often unable to find affordable and adequate housing. At the same time, many homeowners and real estate interests have benefited from rising housing prices.   
  • Poor quality housing and homelessness are clear threats to health. Housing is a necessity for living a healthy life; living in unsafe, unaffordable housing increases the risk of many health problems.
  • Children living in low quality housing are more likely to have poor health as children and as adults.

Canada is a wealthy country that could create adequate and affordable housing for all. But this requires the federal government to work with all levels of government and stakeholders to develop a pan-Canadian strategy to end homelessness and pave the way to ensuring adequate housing as a fundamental human right for everyone in Canada. 

ACTION IS NEEDED NOW

  • Come to the rally to end homelessness and create affordable housing: Tuesday May 18, 12 noon, at the Legislative Building. The rally is organized by the Regina Anti-Poverty Network and is part of the Red Tent campaign, a national campaign to end homelessness.
  • Urge your federal Member of Parliament to vote for Bill C-304, a plan to create a national housing strategy. See http://www.wellesleyinstitute.com/policy-fields/affordable-housing/

  Let’s create secure, adequate, accessible and affordable housing.

MAKING PEACE VIGIL May 13 2010

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HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY/VIGIL’S 3RD BIRTHDAY

Posted by strattof on May 19, 2010

THE ORIGIN OF MOTHER’S DAY

In North America, Mother’s Day comes from an anti-war Mother’s Day Proclamation written in 1870 by U.S. suffragette, abolitionist, and peace activist Julia Ward Howe.

Horrified by the carnage of the American Civil War, Howe became a crusader for peace and for the equality of all people, regardless of race, religion, or gender.

Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation calls on women everywhere to rise up against war. As a passage from it shows, Howe’s original words are as relevant in 2010 as they were in 1870:

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,

Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience.

We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.

It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

It is not too late to answer Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day call for world peace and justice.   

THE VIGIL CELEBRATES ITS THIRD BIRTHDAY

Today, May 6, marks the third anniversary of the Making Peace Vigil. For the past 156 Thursdays, we have assembled on the Scarth Street Mall, from 12 noon to 12:30, to further the cause of peace and justice. 

  •  Thanks so much for taking our fliers.
  • A special thanks to those who have stopped and discussed issues with us.
  • Let us know what other issues you would like us to examine.
  • Should you ever be free on a Thursday at noon, please join us.  

MAKING PEACE VIGIL May6 2010

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6 things you should know about the war in Afghanistan

Posted by strattof on May 4, 2010

 

1

The war in Afghanistan has already lasted longer than the Second World War. To date, 145 Canadians have been killed and many thousands more have been injured.   

2

Over 10,000 Afghan civilians have been killed in the war, many of them women and children. Over half of them have died as a direct result of US-led/NATO military action.

3

The war in Afghanistan has already cost Canadians between $8 and $14 billion. This is money that could have been spent on health care, education, and affordable housing. The estimated total cost of the war is $18 billion.

4

This is not a war for Afghan women.Women and children are the main victims of modern warfare. ●Killing their fathers, husbands, and brothers does not liberate women. ●Like Canadian women, Afghan women have developed their own organizations and strategies to combat gender oppression.

5

This is not a war for democracy. Because war justifies secrecy, deception, and surveillance, democracy is one of its first casualties in all countries engaged in the conflict. ●Three years after the first allegations, we still do not know what the Canadian government knew about the torture and abuse of Afghan prisoners. According to the UN, the 2009 Afghan elections were marked by massive fraud.

6

A majority of Canadians want all Canadian troops withdrawn from Afghanistan. According to an Angus Reid poll taken earlier this month, 56% of Canadians are opposed to Canada’s military engagement in Afghanistan, while only 39% support it. Peace is possible. Negotiations with the Taliban, favoured by most Afghans, could end the war now.

MAKING PEACE VIGIL April 29 2010

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Public Transit Benefits Everyone

Posted by strattof on May 4, 2010

TRANSIT cuts climate-changing gases. One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road, reducing emission of pollutants by more than 15,000 tonnes a year.

TRANSIT saves you money. Parking costs run from $50 to $700 a year. Car purchase, fuel, insurance, and maintenance are $10,000 for the average vehicle. A monthly adult bus pass costs $59. That’s $708 for the year.

TRANSIT saves the Regina taxpayers’ money. Fewer vehicles on the road mean less tax money spent on repairing and building roads.

TRANSIT is safe. In 2008, there were about 9,500 traffic accidents in Regina, 1143 of them involving injuries. Although Regina Transit’s fleet of buses is on the road 18 hours a day, transit buses were only involved in 49 accidents, 7 of which involved injuries.  

TRANSIT gives you time to relax. You can read or meditate or chat on the bus with no safety worries.

TRANSIT saves you time. No more shoveling or scraping. No more trips to the gas pump or repair shop. No more driving around the block in search of a parking spot. No more working extra hours to pay car costs.

TRANSIT makes streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Transit also provides more space for necessary vehicles, such as ambulances, fire trucks, taxis, and delivery vans.

TRANSIT helps everyone. Folks who serve us in hospitals, restaurants, and stores need transit to get to work. Businesses need customers and workers to get there. Transit is essential for people who cannot afford, or do not have the health, to drive a car, and for people who choose to be environmentally responsible by not driving.

KUDOS TO REGINA CITY COUNCIL

Regina City Council has accepted the need for an improved Transit service. Improved service will include: ●Purchasing of more buses to extend and upgrade the fleet ●Increasing the frequency of buses ●Reducing travel time by streamlining and adding routes ●Better transfer and shelter facilities ●Improved holiday and weekend service ●Initiating a modern fare collection system ●Improved public information service, including a computerized bus tracking system.

SUPPORT REGINA PUBLIC TRANSIT

Although City Council has agreed in principle to improved transit service these changes must be included in the City Budget which will be discussed at the Council Meeting on Tuesday, April 27 at 5:30 pm.

  • Call Mayor Pat Fiacco at 777-7339 or your City Councilor to support Public Transit.
  • Attend the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, April 27 at 5:30 pm.
  • Ride the bus.

 EACH TIME WE RIDE A BUS WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Prepared by Regina Citizens Public Transit Coalition. Contact 352-4804 or 545-7378

Distributed by the Making Peace Vigil, April 15 2010

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A Prison Without Walls: The Case of Abousfian Abdelrazik

Posted by strattof on May 4, 2010

THE BACKGROUND: PRISONS WITH WALLS

  • In 2003, Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, travelled from Montreal to Sudan to visit his ailing mother. Once there, he was arrested at the request of Canada’s spy agency, CSIS. During two periods of imprisonment totaling a year and a half, he was threatened, beaten, and tortured. He was also interrogated by CSIS officials. He was never charged. 
  • Following his release in 2006, Mr. Abdelrazik made many attempts to return to Canada. Because his passport had expired while he was in prison, he needed a travel document. But, even though he had been cleared of all suspicion by CSIS and the RCMP, the Canadian government refused to issue him that document.
  • In 2008, afraid of being rearrested, Mr. Abdelrazik claimed refuge in the Canadian Embassy in Sudan. He lived in the Embassy for 14 months, unable to leave the grounds, until a Federal Court order, along with public pressure, forced the Canadian government to bring him back to Canada.  

THE PRESENT: A PRISON WITHOUT WALLS

  • Mr. Abdelrazik has been back in Canada for nearly a year, but he is still not free. For his name is on the United Nations 1267 list of suspected terrorists, placed there in 2006 at the request of the United States. 
  • The 1267 list is not only a “no fly” list. It also imposes sanctions that prevent listed individuals from earning a salary, receiving gifts or loans of money, or maintaining a bank account. These restrictions make it impossible for Mr. Abdelrazik to rebuild his life. So, even though he has never been charged with anything, he continues to live in a prison–now one without walls.

THE 1267 PRISON LIST

  • The restrictions placed on listed individuals are severe and indefinite. Such individuals have no right to a hearing before being listed, face vague allegations, and are provided with no evidence to support the claims against them.
  • The 1267 list relies on guilt by association and profiling to cast a shadow over entire populations. Such policies trample on the fundamental rights and dignities of immigrants, marginalize targeted communities, create fear, and silence debate.
  • As the Federal Court of Canada wrote in its 2009 ruling, the 1267 list is “a denial of basic legal remedies” and is “untenable under the principles of international human rights.”

DELISTING

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon says it is Mr. Abdelrazik’s responsibility to get himself off the list. But it is not possible for Mr. Abdelrazik to do so as listed individuals are not permitted to know why they were put on the list in the first place.
  • The Canadian government itself has made no serious attempt to have Mr. Abdelrazik delisted. Nor has it made any move to lift sanctions from Mr. Abdelrazik in Canada, although it is within its power to do so immediately. 
HELP GET ABOUSFIAN ABDELRAZIK OUT OF THE 1267 PRISON

  • Find out more about Abousfian Abdelrazik and the 1267 list by going to  the website of the People’s commission:  http://peoplescommission.org/enabdelrazik/  The People’s Commission is a Montréal based network that works on behalf of individuals and groups who face oppression in the name of “national security.” It ran the Project Fly Home campaign that, in 2009, helped force the government to repatriate Mr. Abdelrazik.
  • Sign the postcard addressed to Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon and pop it in the maibox.
  • Contact Prime Minister Stephen Harper and tell him you want his government 1) to lift sanctions from Mr. Abdelrazik immediately and 2) to contact all United Nations Security Council members to inform them that Mr. Abdelrazik’s removal from the 1267 list is a diplomatic priority for Canada.: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  • On April 28, participate in the sanctions busting telethon organized by Project Fly Home. Call toll free 1-877-737-4070 between 5 pm and 7 pm (Regina time) and join the long list of people who have defied the illegal 1267 regime by contributing money to Mr. Abdelrazik as an act of solidarity.
  • Send a check or money order made out to “Abousfian Abdelrazik” to CSCP Charlevoix, PO Box 65053, Montréal QC, H3K 0K4.

 

 

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