Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stephen Harper is in Contempt of Parliament and the Canadian People

With the Reformers still denying knowledge of detainee abuse, the Canadian people and the Canadian troops, are being violated. We will wear this shame, so if the memos in their possession reveal something different than what Richard Colvin, the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, NATO and others are suggesting, then they need to release them.

Otherwise, we can only assume that our government was well aware of what was happening and decided to follow George Bush's lead, and simply dismiss the charges. These prisoners were Taliban. They were terrorists.

But what if they weren't?

According to many people who have spent anytime in Afghanistan, we are now mostly fighting against villagers who see themselves in the same way that the Resistance did in WWII. We are an invading army propping up a tyrannical and corrupt government, and most of the people we captured were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Harper government has access to the truth. Now we need to also have access to that truth before this ends up in an international court.

Afghan denials denied
December 17, 2009

What should Prime Minister Stephen Harper have known when he assured Parliament on April 24, 2007, that "we have no evidence that supports the allegations" that Canadian-transferred Afghan detainees were abused or tortured?

Harper should have known that Richard Colvin and other Canadian diplomats, police and military had by that time sent no fewer than six separate reports in 2006 expressing concern about detainees, some of which explicitly warned that "torture" was rife in Afghan jails, along with "extrajudicial executions and disappearances."

He should have known that Colvin directly warned Ottawa officials in March 2007 that "the NDS (Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security) tortures people, that's what they do, and if we don't want our detainees tortured, we shouldn't give them to the NDS."

He should have known that the United Nations had said "reports of the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment by the NDS are frequent." And that Washington, too, blamed Afghan security services and others for extrajudicial killings, torture and abuse.

All this is spelled out in a rebuttal Colvin filed yesterday with the Commons Afghan committee to refute ministers, generals and officials who alleged that Colvin never explicitly warned of torture.

Of course, Harper should also have known that there was proof positive that Canadian troops handed over a detainee on June 19, 2006, who was then so badly beaten they had to rescue him. Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk on Dec. 9 confirmed as much.

But the Prime Minister and his cabinet preferred to turn a blind eye, in 2006 and part of 2007, to the risk that detainees would be abused. Now the government is resisting a Commons resolution ordering it to produce documents that detail who knew what, and when. It has hampered a military police probe. And it has shut down a bid by a Commons committee to hold hearings on the subject during the holidays.

This is contempt for Parliament and the public. Harper had no business telling Canadians, wrongly, that all was well. He was wrong to try to discredit Colvin. His claim that those who question his policy are casting Canada's troops as "war criminals" is beneath contempt. And he is wrong to hobble every effort to set the record straight.

He should stop stonewalling, release all relevant documents, and let the Commons committee and the military police dig for the truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment