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Archive for July, 2014

END ALL WARS: MARKING THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF WORLD WAR I

Posted by strattof on July 31, 2014

August 4th will mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, “the war to end all wars.” Over the next six years, the Harper government plans to spend $38 million commemorating this and our country’s other wars.

Anniversaries provide an opportunity for reflection. The First World War caused terrible loss and suffering, claiming over 16 million lives, 61,000 of them Canadian, and leaving more than 20 million wounded.

Sadly, Canada is not using the World War I centenary to promote peace. Rather, our government is utilizing it to glorify war and promote militarism.

Where is the glory in war? War is a catastrophe for everyone who experiences it.

Let’s put aside the war-mongering and listen to the voice of peace.

END ALL WARS

1914 – 2014

V O I C E S   F O R   P E A C E

Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder. ‒ Harry Patch, Britian’s last surviving World War I veteran

In war, the first casuality is truth. ‒ Aeschylus

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or under the holy name of liberty or democracy? Mahatma Gandhi

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Martin Luther King

You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb the world to peace. Michael Franti

May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace. It is always a defeat for humanity. ‒ Pope Francis

All we are saying is give peace a chance. John Lennon

Our motto should be: let us make peace so that we can concentrate on the really important work that needs to be done. That is, alleviating the plight of the poor and the defenceless, for as long as most of humanity feels the pain of poverty we all remain prisoners. Nelson Mandela

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing. ‒ Arundhati Roy 

END ALL WARS

1914 – 2014

CANADA’S WAR VETERANS BETRAYED

The Canadian government is spending millions on war commemorations. At the same time, it is reducing the support it provides for veterans, especially the 40,000 Canadian soldiers who served in Afghanistan.

Canada needs to honour its veterans by providing them with all the support they need to deal with their physical and psychological injuries.

Another way to honour veterans would be to avoid creating new generations of wounded and dead soldiers. 

E N D   A L L   W A R S !

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MAKING PEACE IN PALESTINE AND ISRAEL

Posted by strattof on July 25, 2014

As the violence in Israel and Palestine continues to intensify, the death toll keeps on mounting. Earlier this week, it rose above 600, with a disproportionate number of the dead ‒ 96% ‒ being Palestinian, the vast majority of them civilians.

What can be done to end the bloodshed and bring a lasting peace to the region?

Canada used to be known as a peace-making nation. In this ongoing conflict, however, the Canadian government, rather than working for peace, has chosen to promote war by siding with one of the combatants.

“Israel has every right to defend itself,” is Prime Minister Harper’s mantra. At the same time, he is quick to denounce every Palestinian action.

By failing to be even-handed, Canada has become complicit in the destruction and bloodshed on both sides of the conflict.

ISRAEL & PALESTINE: 8 KEY FACTS

  1. Israel was founded on land that was already occupied. Its creation in 1948 caused the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians. Many of them, along with their descendants, continue to live in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
  2. Israel’s Law of Return entitles any Jewish person, from any part of the world, to immediate Israeli citizenship, whereas Palestinians whose families were expelled in 1948 have no right of return.
  3. 1.1 million Palestinians live in Israel where they are second class citizens. Making up about 20% of the population, they suffer from widespread discrimination, affecting everything from education and employment to landownership.
  4. Since 1967, Gaza and the West Bank have been under Israeli military occupation. In 2005, Israel withdrew its soldiers from Gaza. However, it has maintained an air, land, and sea blockade, preventing people and goods from entering or leaving and creating a humanitarian catastrophe.
  5. In the West Bank, the Israeli army has complete control. Palestinians are subject to Israeli military justice, under which torture, mass arrests, detention without trial, harsh restrictions on movement, and house demolitions are legal.
  6. Since the 1970s, Israel has been confiscating Palestinian land in the West Bank and establishing Israeli settlements. Today, about 350,000 Israeli settlers live in these settlements, which are illegal under international law.
  7. Israel is building a separation wall in the West Bank. The wall will be 700 km on completion and is putting prime land into Israeli hands and further restricting the movement of Palestinians.
  8. Israel has the most powerful military in the Middle East and one of the most powerful militaries in the world. In addition to conventional weapons, it has an undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons. In contrast to Iran, which Canada regularly condemns for its nuclear program, Israel has not signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons treaty. Both Iran and Canada are signatories.

M A K I N G   W A R

Why has the Canadian government adopted such a one-sided, war-promoting approach to Israel and Palestine?

  • Canadian companies have lucrative contracts with Israel.
  • The Conservative Party is playing to the beliefs of its base about Israel.
  • Canada and Israel are both colonial settler countries founded on the dispossession and impoverishment of Indigenous peoples.

M A K I N G   P E A C E

We call on the Canadian government to work with other nations to create a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Some of the conditions required for a just and lasting peace:

  • Both sides to renounce violence.
  • Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territory, to dismantle Israeli settlements and the separation wall, and to withdraw to the legally recognized 1967 borders.
  • Israel to recognize the right of Palestinians living in Israel to full and equal citizenship.
  • Israel and Palestine to find an agreed upon solution to the future of Palestinian refugees expelled from Israel in 1948.
  • Israel and Palestine to recognize the right of the other to exist.

LEARN MORE

Learn more about making peace in Israel and Palestine. Visit the website of Jewish Voice for Peace: http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/

TAKE ACTION

Let Prime Minister Stephen Harper know you want the Canadian government to uphold Canada’s reputation as a peace-making country by working with other nations to create a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine: stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.

Walls turned on their sides are bridges.” —Graffiti on the US-Mexico border wall

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I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF….

Posted by strattof on July 20, 2014

This year I Love Regina Day was celebrated on July 19. First observed in 2002, I Love Regina Day is an occasion for celebrating our city and its achievements.

It is also a good time to think about the changes we need to bring about in our city to make life better for all Regina citizens.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF 

A CITY-WIDE BAN WERE IMPOSED ON THE COSMETIC USE OF PESTICIDES.

Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned the cosmetic use of pesticides. But not Regina. Here it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides in parks and on lawns and gardens.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, “Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing.” 

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

REGINA TRANSIT WAS PROVIDED WITH ADEQUATE FUNDING. 

The past four years have seen a dramatic increase in transit ridership. Yet there has been no significant increase in Transit’s operating budget.

Our growing city is experiencing traffic congestion and parking problems. Transit is the answer. Transit is also part of the answer to a major global problem: climate change. One bus load of passengers takes the equivalent of 40 vehicles off the road, reducing emissions by more than 15,000 tonnes a year.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

OUR CITY HAD MORE BIKE LANES.

Currently we have two measly downtown bike lanes: on Smith and Lorne between College and Victoria.

Bike lanes help keep cyclist safe. Cycling helps the environment. It is also good for human health.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

EVERY REGINA RESIDENT HAD A SAFE, SECURE, HABITABLE, AND AFFORDABLE HOME.

Regina is experiencing a homelessness crisis. The city’s shelters are filled to capacity.

City Council’s response is to offer a capital incentive of $15,000 per unit to developers to build more rental units ‒ units that are to be rented “at or below average market rent.” As everyone knows, “average market rent” is not very affordable.

In other words, the city is shifting millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into the pockets of developers who will not be building any truly affordable rental units. In the meantime, 1000s of Regina residents are suffering because of the lack of affordable rental housing.

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE IF

TRANSCANADA PIPELINES WERE NOT ABOUT TO SHIP TAR SANDS OIL THROUGH OUR CITY.

TransCanada’s Energy East is the largest tar sands pipeline proposed yet. Over 4,000 km long.it would run from Alberta to New Brunswick, carrying 1.1 million barrels of tar sands oil per day to the Atlantic Ocean, mainly for export.

Energy East cuts right through Regina, in the Harbour Landing area. It would put our city at risk of a tar sands oil spill. TransCanada does not have a good safety record. It would expand Canadian tar sands production, thus driving dangerous climate change.

The citizens of Regina should have a say in the Energy East pipeline project. Do we want tar sands oil piped through our city?

I’D LOVE REGINA MORE

Join the I’d Love Regina More campaign. Let Mayor Michael Fougere and your City Councillor know what they could do to make you love Regina more.

Mayor Michael Fougere: 777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

Ward 1:  Barbara Young: 539-4081 or byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2:  Bob Hawkins: 789-2888 or bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3:  Shawn Fraser: 551-5030 or sfraser@regina.ca

Ward 4:  Bryon Burnett: 737-3347 or bburnett@regina.ca

Ward 5:  John Findura: 536-4250 or jfindura@regina.ca

Ward 6:  Wade Murray: 596-1035 or wmurray@regina.ca

Ward 7:  Sharron Bryce: 949-5025 or sbryce@regina.ca

Ward 8:  Mike O’Donnell: 545-7300 or modonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9:  Terry Hincks: 949-9690 or thincks@regina.ca

Ward 10:Jerry Flegel: 537-9888 or jflegel@regina.ca

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FREE OMAR KHADR

Posted by strattof on July 11, 2014

There is now more evidence that charging Omar Khadr with war crimes was illegal.

  • In order to charge him with offences that are not crimes under U.S., Canadian, or international law, the U.S. designated Omar Khadr as an “unprivileged belligerent.” The U.S. maintained “unprivileged belligerents” could not claim combat immunity or the protection of the Geneva Conventions.
  • A recently released memo establishes that the U.S. knew the charges against Omar Khadr were not legal months before the U.S. offered a “get out of jail in 8 years” plea bargain to him. The U.S. Department of Justice legal memo dated July 2010, says there is no such thing in law as an “unprivileged belligerent.”

The Government of Canada also knew that the charges against Omar Khadr were bogus and could never be upheld by a properly constituted court.

BREAKING THE LAW: CANADIAN GOVERNMENT & OMAR KHADR

Omar Khadr was born in Toronto to Canadian parents. He is a Canadian citizen.

In its treatment of Omar Khadr, the Canadian government ‒ first the Liberal, then the Conservative ‒ has broken both Canadian and international law. The proper functioning of a democracy depends on the government respecting the rule of law. 

  • CHILD SOLDIER: Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2002. The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, ratified by Canada in 1991, defines “child” as a “human being below the age of eighteen.” 
  • TORTURE: Confessions were extracted from Omar Khadr through the use of torture and other prohibited treatment, including threats, beatings, and prolonged solitary confinement. In 2003, the Canadian government twice sent CSIS agents to Guantánamo to interrogate Omar Khadr, knowing that U.S. officials had subjected him to prolonged sleep deprivation and isolation. It was only a federal court injunction that stopped further interroga-tions. Canada signed the UN Convention against torture in 1975.
  •  GENEVA CONVENTIONS: Omar Khadr was and is properly presumed to be a “prisoner of war” and is entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions signed by Canada in 1949. 
  • CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS: The Canadian Charter, signed into law in 1982, guarantees every Canadian the right on arrest to be informed promptly of the reasons for the arrest; the right to legal counsel; and the right to appear before a court of law. None of these conditions were met in the arrest and detention of Omar Khadr. 

The case of Omar Khadr – a Canadian citizen and former child soldier – is a stain upon our society and shows a blatant disregard for Canada’s obligations under international law.”–Roméo Dallaire

OMAR KHADR TIMELINE

September 19, 1986: Omar Khadr was born in Toronto.

July 27, 2002:

●15 years old and living with his family in Afghanistan, Omar was rendered unconscious and blinded in one eye when the U.S. Army Special Forces bombarded the compound where he was staying. When found in the rubble, unarmed and severely wounded, he was shot in the back by a U.S. soldier.

●Instead of identifying Omar as a child soldier and providing him with immediate protection, the U.S. took him to Bagram Prison in Afghanistan where he was tortured.

October 2002: Omar was transferred to Guantánamo Bay, where he was held, largely in solitary confinement, for over a decade.

November 7, 2005: Omar was finally charged. The main charge was the murder with a grenade of Christopher Speer, a U.S. combat medic. It was later revealed that the U.S. military had doctored the field report, erasing evidence that a U.S. grenade had caused Speer’s death.

October 25, 2010: To get out of Guantánamo, Omar entered into a plea bargain, pleading guilty to five charges in exchange for being returned to Canada in one year’s time.  He was sentenced to eight more years in prison, his release date being 2018.  

September 29, 2012: After many delays, the Canadian government was finally forced by the courts to repatriate Omar. Shamefully, instead of ensuring his release and rehabilitation, the Canadian government had Omar incarcerated in a maximum security prison where he spent the first seven months in solitary confinement and had no access to rehabilitation or education.

Today: Omar Khadr is in a federal medium security prison in Alberta. Now 27, he has been illegally imprisoned for 12 years, almost half of his life. His sentence will not expire until 2018.

BREAKING NEWS

On Tuesday, an Alberta court ruled that Omar Khadr should be serving a youth sentence and ordered his transfer to a provincial prison. There, according to his lawyer, he will receive better treatment. The Harper government is appealing the ruling.

SOURCES AND RESOURCES

Learn more about Omar Khadr and his on-going illegal imprisonment.

Visit the following website: Lawyers Against the War and Free Omar Khadr Now: http://freeomarakhadr.com/

Watch the documentary You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo, available on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx-0G_pAgPE

Read Roméo Dallaire’s They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers, available at Regina Public Library.

FREE OMAR KHADR NOW

Omar Khadr has been illegally imprisoned for 12 years, first in Bagram, then at Guantánamo, and now in Canada. He needs justice.

  • Contact Prime Minister Stephen Harper and ask for the immediate release of Omar Khadr: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.
  • Send the same message to Peter MacKay, the Minister of Justice, and Steven Blaney, the Minister of Public Safety: peter.mackay@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-6022 steven.blaney@parl.gc.ca or 613-992-7434

For a person who has had to endure what he has in these kinds of settings now for 10 plus years, he has an equanimity about him and a sensitivity and a thoughtfulness that is extra-ordinary.”–Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist who has interviewed Omar extensively.

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