This past Saturday, people of the Fredericton community gathered together for a cause that hits hard locally, but is in fact dedicated to communities nearly 10,000 kilometres away. The Fredericton Peace Coalition, the UNB/STU University Women’s Centre, NB RebELLEs-Fredericton, and CUSO-VSO joined together to host Fredericton’s third Annual Benefit for the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan (RAWA).
As Olmert declared that responding to a single Hamas rocket was justified let alone 6,000, she stood, squaring her slight shoulders and shouting out the victims of that Israeli response:
“Ibithal Kechko, 10 years old. Ahmed Riad Mohammed Al-Sinwar, 3 years old. Hassan Ali Al-Akhrass, 5 years old…”
Vigorous applause erupted as security stormed toward her, snatching the sheet out of her hands.
“I think the real problem is our media paints Israelis and Palestinians with different brushes,” she said after the lecture.
“Dead Israelis have names, families, homes just like us. Palestinians are just listed numbers and death tolls. That’s why I wanted to read their names and highlight their tragedy, it’s barbaric and it should be decried by the whole world.”
Abousfian Abdelrazik – like Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, Muayyed Nureddin and Maher Arar, other victims of a Canadian programme of outsourcing torture – was, according to documents released by the Department of Foreign Affairs, jailed on the recommendation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) while on a visit to Sudan. In prison, he was beaten and tortured. In this context, he was interrogated by CSIS officials. He was never charged.
Eventually released and cleared of all suspicion by Sudan, as well as the RCMP and CSIS, his many attempts to return home to Montreal have been blocked. In an attempt to draw attention to his plight, he went public with his story in April 2008. Since then, he has been living in “temporary safe haven” inside the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum.
In December 2008, the government stated in a letter to Mr. Abdelrazik’s lawyer that he must present a fully-paid-for plane ticket before Passport Canada would agree to issue an emergency passport. (Mr. Abdelrazik’s passport expired while he was in prison in Sudan.) At the same time, the government took the position that anyone who paid for his ticket could be charged under section 3 of the Al Qaida and Taliban Regulations (which says no Canadian shall “provide or collect by any means, directly or indirectly, funds with the intention that the funds be used” by a person on the UN list).
In March 2009, over one hundred people joined together to buy a plane ticket home for Abousfian Abdelrazik, despite the risk of being charged. There are now almost 200 people from all parts of Canada and all walks of life who have contributed to the ticket fund. The full list of contributors can be seen here. Surplus money will be offered to Mr. Abdelrazik as a symbolic reparation fund on his return to Canada.
The Canadian Council of International Cooperation is releasing an analysis of the text of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, tabled by the federal government in Parliament on March 26. Making a Bad Situation Worse, was compiled by CCIC in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers, the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Minister of Censorship Jason Kenney’s decision to ban British MP George Galloway from speaking in Canada has ignited a firestorm of protest across the country. Kenney’s office and the entire Conservative caucus has been bombarded with thousands of e-mails, phone calls and messages of protest. A legal challenge has been launched by Galloway’s legal counsel in Canada, and the media is reporting new developments every day. The movement to reverse the ban on Galloway is big, and is growing by the minute. This site is the clearinghouse for all update about the campaign and includes documents from the legal challenge, breaking news, ticket information, and action items. Please upload a link of this site to your website, upload it to all Galloway groups on facebook and on your profile, and forward it to all your friends. If you have any news or updates for the website, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under-reported news from the last 2 weeks in March.
Please send an e-mail to Prime Minister Stephen Harper email@example.com calling on the Canadian government to:
- Actually implement the disarmament and non-proliferation measures already elaborated or awaiting negotiation through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
- Establish initiatives that will end NATO’s reliance on nuclear weapons and engage other states in the serious pursuit of disarmament.
- Pursue new actions to resolve injustices, divisions and conflicts that affect members of the Alliance through constructive engagement among neighbours.
Maria Dolores Itzep is a lawyer with the Community Legal Centre in Rabinal, Guatemala. As an indigenous Achi woman raised in the community, she has dedicated her legal career to working with survivors of human rights abuses that took place in this region during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. The Legal Centre provides free legal services to those seeking justice for human rights abuses, land conflicts, and cases of violence against women. Maria Dolores is involved with bringing cases before the Inter-American Human Rights Court and is also representing the Achi people in the genocide case being carried out in Spain.
Two public presentations in Fredericton:
When: 7:30pm, Monday, March 30. Potluck at 6:00 pm. All welcome.
Where: Conserver House, 180 St. John St.
When: Tuesday, March 31 at 4:30pm
Where: UNB Ludlow Hall (Law Building), Room 15. All welcome. Refreshments will be served.
The campus presentation is co-sponsored by: UNB Faculty of Law, Canadian Lawyers Abroad (UNB Chapter), the International Law Society, the Aboriginal Law Students Society and the Women’s Law Society. The Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network and the UNB Law School to bring a special presentation to campus.
* If you would like to arrange a meeting with Maria Dolores in Fredericton on Monday or Tuesday, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Dolores will be touring the Maritimes from March 21 to April 5, 2009. The tour is being organized by Breaking the Silence Network, which has a solidarity relationship with partner organizations throughout Guatemala. BTS works with partners to develop relationships and projects based on solidarity, friendship and human rights advocacy. For more information go to: www.breaking-the-silence.ca
Saa Andrew performs