Archive for February, 2008

Don’t resume the transfer of Afghan prisoners

Dear Ceasefire.ca Supporter,

I have just returned to my office from the CTV televisions studios, where I urged the government not to restart the transfer of prisoners to local Afghan prisons.

My appeal was motivated by an extreme sense of urgency. You may have read in the newspapers last week the story of a 50-year-old labourer and his 11-year-old son, living in Kandahar where our troops are based, who were picked up by Afghan police.

The officers, our allies in the fight against the Taliban, took the man and boy to a police checkpoint and gang-raped them both. The father said, “As they did it to me, I could hear the others doing it to my son.”

Please join me in writing to Prime Minister Harper.

We know this story is true because fortunately three of the policemen responsible were charged, found guilty, and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Kandahar court. But rape is under-reported and rarely makes it to trial.

I am shocked that the military, no doubt with the approval of the Harper government, is starting this terrible practice of handing detainees to local authorities once again. Amnesty International and others are calling on the government to stop these handovers.

The evidence that torture is rampant throughout the judicial system is undeniable. Even Canadian inspectors could not ignore the evidence of torture, and the military quietly stopped handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities last November.

I urge you, if you have not already done so, to join with the 685 other Ceasefire.ca supporters in sending your letter to Prime Minister Harper, urging him to stop the transfer of detainees.

Thanks for taking action.

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February 29, 2008 at 6:22 pm 2 comments

The National Debate on Afghanistan

Dear Ceasefire.ca supporter

I wanted to let you know that tonight I will be a guest on CBC TV’s The National, speaking on what Canada should be doing in Afghanistan.

On Monday I recorded a 3-minute monologue for the CBC at the National War Museum which will air tonight. In my segment, I advocated strongly for Canada to take a lead role in a comprehensive peace settlement in Afghanistan. This afternoon I am travelling down to Toronto to be on a panel in Peter Mansbridge’s studio to discuss the war. I hope you’ll be able to watch.

As well, I’m sure that you will be just as dismayed as I am to learn that the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, is actually scheduled to make a major speech to a military-advocacy group called the Conference of Defence Associations on Thursday in Ottawa.

The CDA receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from the Department of National Defence, and according to Macleans.ca, it is required to ensure that it publishes “a certain number” of articles in newspapers. Not surprisingly, according to its director, retired colonel Alain Pellerin, the CDA rarely disagrees with the Conservative Party’s defence policy.

You can read more on one of the best blogs on Canadian military issues, Ottawa Citizen journalist David Pugliese’s Defence Watch. According to Pugliese, the Prime Minister is set to announce billions of dollars in more military equipment purchases.

Best wishes,

   

February 20, 2008 at 10:40 am 2 comments


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