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On red herrings and straw-men.

At first glance, you might wonder why Stockwell Day would issue such a feeble attempt in trying to draw Canadian outrage by equating the tasering death of a Polish immigrant to the issues of drunk driving. On the surface, it does seem pretty idiotic of Day – after all, this issue wasn’t one like the detainee question where the government is directly implicated and being directly attacked. This was mostly directed against the RCMP’s use of these tasers, and Harper and his office – normally so hypersensitive to any issue in which public opinion would turn against the Cons, and then trying to neutralize that particular issue as a problem […]

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What they said.

Some of our blogging acquaintances on the right-wing and even some like Peter MacKay and others in the Cons. government can’t understand all the fuss over a few Taliban prisoners getting tortured – after all they’re the bad guys right?

For a rebuttal to that, a couple of my Progressive Blogger associates have done quite well in issuing responses. First Impolitical sums it up distinctly why this attitude is wrong:

Where, when and how detainees are captured have nothing to do with whether they are being tortured once handed over and in Afghan prisons…It doesn’t matter who the prisoners are, Taliban, Al Qaeda, pillaging Huns. They all need to be […]

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Appalling.

You know, even when some of us political people of the progressive persuasion accused the Harper Conservative government of worshiping George W Bush as their “American Idol” and mentor, I don’t think even we thought they’d follow Bush’s method of a total disregard of human rights and cover-ups of said actions, justifying it under “national security” and “fighting terrorists”. But folks, as documents released this week as ordered by a federal court have shown, we were sadly mistaken; Harper and the Cons are employing the George W Bush lite method towards human rights, which means its pretty dismal:

The Harper government knew prison conditions were appalling long before The Globe […]

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Where there’s smoke….

…there’s fire. First, the smoke part:

Canadian officials have uncovered a “credible” case of torture involving a Taliban fighter whom Canadian forces had turned over to Afghan authorities. The admission that Canadian detainees are being mistreated in Afghan prisons by local authorities is the first of its kind from the Conservative government.

Remember, this is the same government that has claimed all such claims of mistreatment and torture of prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities as being “Taliban propaganda”. Apparently not.

Now, the fire part:

It came just before the foreign affairs department released about 1,000 pages of files late last night that suggests widespread abuse of prisoners – including those captured by Canadian soldiers – continues to occur in Afghanistan.

These documents wouldn’t have seen the light of day but for a Federal Court order to the government to release them so Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Union could examine them. Those 2 organizations have a lawsuit ongoing to force the government to stop the transfer of the detainees to Afghan authorities. These documents – which the 2 organizations had been unsuccessful in obtaining before the courts stepped in (the government claimed they couldn’t be released on that now-familiar excuse of national security) will aid the organization’s court cases significantly.

It is a disgrace that we are going from a country that has been a leading advocate of human rights to now following the George W Bush method:

The revelations contained in the documents released yesterday show Canada is still “handing detainees over to known torturers,” said Amir Attaran, the University of Ottawa law professor whose searches through military documents first uncovered the allegations of torture of Canadian-held detainees in Afghanistan. “Canada is following the American lead; this is the same as the American program of rendering detainees,” he said yesterday in a telephone interview.

(H/T Impolitical on that last quote)

I and a couple of other bloggers said yesterday that this story was probably bigger news then the Mulroney/Schreiber stuff, and it was unfortunate it was going to get buried under that. I’m starting to think however, that it may not get as buried as I first thought, and that’s a good thing. This government must be held accountable for being complicit in torture by turning over prisoners and putting them in a situation where torture is very likely to occur, which as we saw yesterday, is a violation and flaunting of international law.

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That “other” issue Canadians aren’t going to like either.

It’s almost unfortunate this Mulroney stuff has to be happening at this particular moment, because the Afghan detainees issue is probably more important in the scheme of things, and it has popped back up in the news as well, with a sweeping condemnation of Canada by Amnesty International in being complicit of torture in Afghanistan:

Last May, under the threat of a federal court injunction, the Canadian government negotiated an improved arrangement. But the new arrangement has failed to work. According to Amnesty International, transferred detainees remain “at substantial risk of torture and other ill-treatment.” The human rights organization also criticizes Canada for downplaying the number of transfers that occur. […]

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