Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

ENOUGH! LET THE PEACE BEGIN

Posted by strattof on May 13, 2011

THE DEATH OF OSAMA BIN LADEN: A TIME FOR PROFOUND REFLECTION

The desire to capture or kill Osama bin Laden provided the pretext for the war in Afghanistan. Canadians have been fighting in this war for more than nine years. It is already Canada’s longest war. It is time to bring all the troops home and to start healing their physical, mental, and emotional wounds.

If it was wrong for al-Qaida to kill 2,740 Americans on 9/11, it is also wrong for NATO to kill dozens of Afghan civilians on a monthly basis. According to the United Nations, in 2010 alone, NATO forces were responsible for the death of 694 Afghan civilians.

The desire to capture or kill Osama bin Laden also provided the pretext for western countries, including Canada, to violate international and domestic human rights legislation and to target citizens of certain ethnic or religious backgrounds. It is time for Canada to face up to its responsibility to the Canadian citizens whose human rights have been violated.    

What does the targeted killing of an unarmed man, along with the hasty disposal of his body at sea, say about how we in the west conduct ourselves around the world? Is such a killing permissible under international law?

 The United States military used the name of the Native American hero, Geronimo, as the code name for Osama bin Laden when they raided his compound in Pakistan. As Native American leaders have pointed out, the identification of bin Laden with Geronimo perpetuates the US tradition of treating Native American nations and peoples as enemies and is a terrible slander for Indigenous peoples everywhere.

WE SAY ‘ENOUGH!’

At this time, we remember and mourn all the lives lost on September 11. We also remember and mourn all the lives lost in Afghanistan:

155 Canadian soldiers

2,186 soldiers from other NATO countries

1,000s of Afghan soldiers

10,000+ Afghan civilians

As lovers of peace, we say ‘ENOUGH! We call on the Canadian government to put an end to Canada’s involvement in this endless war. Our troops must come home now!

We also call on the Canadian government to focus the federal budget on improving the lives of Canadians, not on making new enemies abroad.

In 2010-11, Canada will spend at least $22.3 billion on the military. That’s 61% more than we spent in 1998-99 and 18% more than during the peak spending year of the Cold War. Indeed, Canada is now spending more on the military than it has at any time since the end of World War II.

What a difference it would make if that money were to be invested in early childhood education, healthcare, poverty reduction, and affordable housing.

As Julia Ward Howe declared in her Mother’s Day Proclamation, “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

At this time, we remember all those whose human rights have been violated in the name of the “war on terror.” They include a number of Canadians. Here is the story of one of those Canadians:

Abousfian Abdelrazik

In 2003, at the request of Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, Abousfian Abdelrazik was imprisoned in Sudan where he had gone to visit his mother. While in prison, Mr. Abdelrazik was beaten and tortured. He was also interrogated by CSIS officials. He was never charged. 

Following his release, Mr. Abdelrazik made many attempts to return to Canada, but because his Canadian passport had expired while he was in prison, he needed a travel document. Even though he had been cleared of all suspicion by CSIS and the RCMP, the Canadian government refused to issue one to him. Afraid of being rearrested, Mr. Abdelrazik claimed refuge in the Canadian Embassy in Sudan, living there for 14 months until a Federal Court order forced the Canadian government to bring him back to Canada. 

Mr. Abdelrazik has been back in Canada for two years, but he is still not free as his name is on the UN list of suspected terrorists, placed there in 2006 at the request of the US. The list, known as the ‘1267 list,’ is not only a no fly list. It also prevents him from earning a salary, receiving gifts or loans of money, or maintaining a bank account.

Because we love justice, we say ‘ENOUGH!’ We call on the Canadian government to lift the sanctions from Mr. Abdelrazik in Canada and to lobby the UN Security Council members to have his name removed from the 1267 list.

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