Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for November, 2010

Florence Stratton, Edith Mountjoy, and Camille Adams with Abousfian Abdelrazik

Posted by strattof on November 21, 2010

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BREAKING THE SILENCE: A SPEAKING TOUR WITH ABOUSFIAN ABDELRAZIK

Posted by strattof on November 21, 2010

WHO IS ABOUSFIAN ABDELRAZIK?

The name “Maher Arar” is now well-known in Canada. Less familiar is the story of another Canadian–Abousfian Abdelrazik–who was also imprisoned and tortured with the complicity of the Canadian government. 

THE BACKGROUND: PRISONS WITH WALLS

In 2003, Abousfian Abdelrazik travelled from Montreal to Sudan to visit his ailing mother. Once there, he was arrested and imprisoned. In 2008 the Canadian Federal Court concluded that this arrest probably took place at the request of Canada’s spy agency, CSIS.

During two periods of detention, totaling a year and a half, Mr. Abdelrazik was beaten, threatened, 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 Canadian 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 one to him.  

In 2008, afraid of being rearrested, Mr. Abderazik 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 17 months, but he is still not free. For his name is on the UN list of suspected terrorists, placed there in 2006, probably at the request of the US.
  • The list, known as 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.

WHO IS NEXT? CAUSE FOR ALL CANADIANS TO WORRY

Canadians like to think of human rights violations as something that happens elsewhere, in Afghanistan, for example, but not in Canada. However, Canada itself is not fulfilling its human rights obligations. Since 2001, the Canadian government has cited “national security” as an excuse to violate international and Canadian human rights legislation and to target Canadian citizens of certain ethnic or religious backgrounds.

The Canadian Citizenship Act states that all citizens are equal before the law. But in practice, Canada seems to have two-tier citizenship.

Canadians would do well to heed Martin Niemöller’s 1940s warning to his fellow Germans, a contemporary version of which appears below:

First they went for Muslim Canadians.

I remained silent because I was not Muslim.

Then they went for recent immigrants.

I did not speak up because I was not one of them.

Next they went after peace and justice activists.

Again I remained silent. I was not one of them either.

By the time they came for me

There was no one left to speak up.

A CALL FOR SOLIDARITY

Come to BREAKING THE SILENCE: A SPEAKING TOUR WITH ABOUSFIAN ABDELRAZIK

The national organizer of the event, Project Fly Home, will be seeking our support to put pressure on the Canadian government to immediately lift the sanctions on Mr. Abdelrazik, to ask all UN Security Council members to support delisting Mr. Abdelrazik, and to withdraw from the unjust and unconstitutional 1267 sanctions regime.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 18, at 7:30 pm, UNIVERSITY OF REGINA, CLASSROOM BUILDING 130

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DEPLETED URANIUM–and Saskatchewan

Posted by strattof on November 5, 2010

NOVEMBER 6

  • International Day of Action Against Depleted Uranium Weapons
  • International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons: http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/346.html
  • UN Day for Prevention of the Exploitation of the Environment  during Wars and Armed Conflicts

What is ‘depleted’ uranium? 

Depleted Uranium (DU) is nuclear waste. Uranium naturally occurs as three different isotopes U234, U235, and U238. Isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons but the same number of protons. U235 is fissionable, but only makes up a small proportion of naturally occurring uranium. U238 makes up more than 99% of natural uranium and is less radioactive. After natural uranium has had most of the U235 removed from it, it is called ‘depleted uranium.’ Each kilo of reactor-ready enriched uranium produced leaves you with about seven kilos of DU.

What are DU weapons?  

DU itself is a chemically toxic and radioactive compound, which is used in armour piercing munitions because of its very high density. It is also used as armour in US M1A1 and M1A2 battle tanks and in small amounts in some types of landmines.

 Where has DU been used and when?

  • The 1991 Gulf War by the US and UK
  • Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo by NATO in the 1990s

It is suspected the US used DU in Afghanistan in 2001. The US may also be using DU in Afghanistan today.  

What’s the problem?    

The toxic and radioactive DU oxide dust includes sub-micron particles that are readily inhaled into and retained by the lungs. From the lungs uranium compounds are deposited in the lymph nodes, bones, brain, and testes. Hard targets hit by DU penetrators are surrounded by this dust, which can travel many kilometres, where it can be inhaled or ingested by civilians and military alike.

It is thought that DU is the cause of a sharp increase in the incidence of some cancers, such as breast cancer and lymphoma, in areas of Iraq following 1991 and 2003. It has also been implicated in a rise in birth defects from areas adjacent to the main Gulf War battlefields.

The United Nations Environment Program has reported that corroding penetrators likely are contaminating groundwater and drinking water supplies and should be removed.

THE INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

There is increasing worldwide support for a ban on the use of depleted uranium weapons.

2007: Belgium became the first country in the world to ban all conventional weapons containing uranium, with other states set to follow their example.

2007: The Italian government agreed to a 170m Euro compensation package for a personnel exposed to uranium weapons in the Balkans. 

2007: The UN General Assembly passed a resolution highlighting serious health concerns over DU. Canada abstained.

2008: 141 states in the UN General Assembly voted in favour of calling on three UN agencies–the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the UN Environment Program–to update their positions on the long-term health and environmental threat that uranium weapons pose. Canada abstained.

2010: The UN is reviewing new evidence toward adopting a stronger resolution for action on DU concerns.

THE SASKATCHEWAN CONNECTION

  • Saskatchewan is the world’s largest producer and exporter of uranium.
  • That uranium is the initial source of much of the depleted uranium currently being used by the US military for the production of depleted uranium weaponry.  

Weren’t we told our uranium would be used only for nuclear power and medicine and not for weapons?

Should we feel a moral responsibility?

What does your conscience tell you?

 

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BRING OUR WAR $$ HOME

Posted by strattof on November 3, 2010

Last month, the Canadian government released an update on the Canadian economy. It’s not a pretty picture.

Federal budget deficit for 2009-10, the biggest deficit in Canadian history: $55.6 billion   

Projected budget deficit for 2010-11: $45.4 billion   

The government says it will bring the budget back to balance in five years time. How does it propose to do this? In all likelihood it will be by slashing public funding for healthcare, education, and social services.  

Here’s another solution to the budget deficit problem. Rather than diverting funds from human needs like healthcare, education, and social services, the government could reduce military spending.

THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN 

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the total cost of this war to Canadian taxpayers will be $18.5 billion by 2011. Imagine how that war money could have been spent here in Saskatchewan on healthcare, education, and affordable housing.

Some of that money could still be saved by bringing the troops home right now. A portion of the savings could be put toward balancing the budget. The rest could be used to help rebuild the lives of our returning, wounded veterans.  

WAR FIGHTING JETS

In July, the government announced it would spend $16 billion on 65 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets made by American arms giant Lockheed Martin. Weapons of aggression, not defence, these fighter-bombers will do nothing to protect Canada, or to promote global peace and security. 

For the cost of these fighter-jets, what could we do to address issues here at home?  At $135 million each, just one of these jets would pay for 587 affordable housing units. 

ANNUAL MILITARY SPENDING

Canada’s current defence budget is about $21 billion annually. That’s a budget increase of 56% in the last 12 years and the highest level since World War II. At about $2 billion annually, the cost of the Afghanistan war accounts for only about 10% of the military budget.

What if the defence budget were cut in half, bringing it back to just above 1998 levels?  In five years the federal budget would be balanced. There would even be a few billion left over to spend on healthcare and education.

MAKING PEACE VIGIL October 28 2010

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