Join a nonviolent community on wheels for part or all of [the] journey... through dozens of communities between Toronto and Ottawa (May 1-9) and expose and challenge the many ways in which the Canadian government is increasingly involved, both directly and indirectly, in policies and practices that result in the torture of human beings. This [notice] has details on getting involved with the caravan, why it is taking place, a city-by-city schedule, details on providing financial support for the caravan, and a list of demands. If you plan on joining [the caravan] please [contact (416) 651-5800, or firstname.lastname@example.org] as soon as possible so that [organizers] can cover the necessary logistics...
Thursday, 1 May 2008 to Friday, 9 May 2008
On the moral and legal level torture is democracy’s ultimate antithesis. We simply cannot torture and preserve our democratic values at the same time.” — Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
“Not our job to show [Afghan] jails free of torture, Ottawa will argue” — Toronto Star headline, March 6, 2008
Although Canada has traditionally been no wallflower when it comes to supporting regimes that engage in the most brutal of human rights violations (whether politically or economically), its complicity in the torture of human beings has come into sharper focus in the years following 9/11/2001. The Canadian government is openly flouting its international and domestic legal obligations NEVER to be involved directly or indirectly in acts of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Some of the world’s most vulnerable people are being abandoned in the name of “national security.”
Canada has consistently been criticized by the likes of the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other groups for the government’s refusal to respect international laws governing the absolute prohibition on complicity in torture. And yet whenever there are efforts to determine the full extent of Canada’s involvement — with the intent of ending such behaviour — they are generally shut down or held in secret.
As Manfred Nowak says, torture is democracy’s antithesis. Whether it is the federal government’s refusal to release documents about the torture of Canadian-captured detainees in Afghanistan; the holding of completely unaccountable secret inquiries into the torture of Canadian citizens; or the use of secret hearings and the lowest available standards of justice to deport people to torture, we see that the government’s efforts to protect institutions involved in such heinous practices are actually undermining the principles of openness, fairness, and equality that are supposed to be hallmarks of democracy.
The Caravan To End Canadian Involvement in Torture follows in the path of long-distance journeys throughout history have played a key role in social justice struggles. In Canada, there have been cross-country caravans in solidarity with First Nations struggles, long-distance walks for refugee rights, freedom rides, the 2006 Freedom Caravan to End Secret Trials, and treks by train, such as the 1930s “On to Ottawa”anti-poverty mobilization.
Such journeys are both political and spiritual pilgrimages, opportunities to get beyond the world of sound-bite politics and engage in dialogue at a slower pace.
WHAT WILL THE CARAVAN LOOK LIKE?
There will be lots to do each day. After breakfast, we will pack and head out to the next town, where we will disembark, pull out banners, placards, and flyers, and blanket the community with information and discussion, whether in town squares or shopping malls, at high schools, in front of MPs’ offices. We will then travel to the next town, stop for lunch, and continue throughout the day with rest spots along the way. Following dinner, there will usually be an evening procession or public event. All meals will be provided for during the caravan. We do need to know as far in advance as possible of any special dietary needs/food allergies.
Each night we will sleep in specially arranged billets and/or churches or community halls and will attempt to arrange alternative billeting for anyone with special needs (please let us know about these far in advance!). We will also attempt to accommodate religious needs (such as Halal food, prayer time). We’ll attempt to arrange showers where available.
DETAILS ON GETTING INVOLVED
What to Bring:
Sleeping bag, floor mat, pillow, change of clothes, medications, good walking shoes, re-usable water bottle, sunscreen, sun glasses, a hat to protect against the sun, pocket money for snacks. Pack for the varying conditions of spring, warm and cold, wet and dry! A sense of humour will help too!
SPIRIT OF THE CARAVAN
This is very much a project in the spirit of the civil rights movement.We ask those who join us to abide by a spirit of openness to all we meet, nonviolence in word and deed, and respect for each other and our opponents, some of whom we are likely to meet on the way. This is very much a community effort: we all share in the tasks of food preparation, clean-up, taking care of one another, and leaving our host spaces in mint condition!
DO YOU HAVE A VEHICLE?
For those who own vehicles, we hope you can contact us and let us know how many people you can take and how much trunk space you have.
CAN’T SPEND THE WHOLE TIME ON THE CARAVAN?
You can join the caravan for a couple of days anywhere along the route.It is up to you. If you plan to join us in Belleville, for example, let us know and we’ll arrange to meet you at the bus or train station.
SUPPORTING THE CARAVAN
If you can’t join the caravan, please consider making a financial contribution towards our costs. Cheques can be made out to Homes not Bombs (earmarked “caravan”) and sent to PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0.
If you’d like to join the Caravan, please contact us as soon as possible with information on how long you can join us, if you have a vehicle, and if you will be on certain parts of the caravan and/or the whole project. We can be reached at (416) 651-5800, or tasc [at] web.ca
More info: Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture (a subsidiary of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada and Homes not Bombs)
(some cities subject to change, so stay in touch if you are joining midway through!)
Thurs., May 1: Torture Tour of Toronto: Sites of Complicity (Government, corporate) Fri. May 2: North York, Richmond Hill, Aurora, Newmarket, Bradford, Barrie Sat., May 3: Orillia, Lindsay, Peterborough Sun., May 4: Port Hope, Cobourg, Colborne, Brighton Mon., May 5: Trenton, Picton, Belleville Tues., May 6: Napanee, Bath (Millhaven), Kingston Wed., May 7: Gananoque Brockville, Prescott, Cornwall Thurs., May 8: Alexandria, Casselman, Manotick, Nepean, CSIS National Headquarters Friday May 9: “Sites of Complicity in Torture Tour,” Ottawa
LEVELS OF COMPLICITY IN TORTURE
We see this complicity on a number of levels (by no means a complete list):
*The role of the RCMP and CSIS in sending questions to the Syrian and Egyptian torturers of three Canadian citizens, knowing such actions could result in torture. A secret inquiry into such actions is ongoing in Ottawa but the three men, their lawyers, and the public are not allowed to attend. Since they are not allowed to be at the inquiry that is held under their names, the men — Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El-Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin — will share their experiences, their questions, and their concerns directly with the public during the Caravan.
*Ongoing efforts by the federal government to deport the Secret Trial Five (five men subject to secret hearing security certificates) to torture in Egypt, Syria, Algeria, and Morocco.
*The RCMP’s use of "evidence" obtained by the Syrian torture of a Canadian citizen for an Ontario court application.
*The finding by the Security Intelligence Review Committee that Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, “uses information obtained by torture.”
*Efforts to fast-track free trade deals with (and ignoring or downplaying the horrific human rights records of) countries such as Colombia.
*The federal government’s refusal to speak out against torture and other inhuman abuses at the Guantanamo Bay gulag as well as at assorted “black sites” around the globe to which countless “ghost detainees”have been disappeared.
*Continued Canadian working relationship (teaching, training) with the U.S.-based "School of the Assassins," which has trained tens of thousands of military officials who have gone on to commit horrific human rights abuses throughout the hemisphere.
*Hosting CIA rendition-to-torture flights, allowing Canadian air space and refueling.
*Transferring detainees in Afghanistan into the hands of forces (U.S.,Afghan) known to engage in torture and murder of those in custody.
*Covering up the Canadian role in the rendition of refugees such as the man sent to the U.S. on September 12, 2001, who spent the next five years under conditions tantamount to torture. There has yet to be a public review in his case.
*Deportation of thousands of women, children, and men every year to situations of potentially serious risk, and insisting that ³diplomatic assurances² from torturers will be enough for protection.
1. A full public inquiry regarding the role of Canadian officials in the torture of Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Elmaati, and Muayyed Nureddin.
2. An immediate and permanent halt to all secret hearing “security certificate” proceedings, an end to all deportations to torture, and the closure of Canada’s Guantanamo Bay
3. Immediate implementation of all the recommendations of the inquiry into the role of Canadian officials in the torture of Maher Arar, Arar Inquiry, with emphasis on the need for a strong, independent, civilian oversight body regarding all “national security” agencies including the RCMP and CSIS.
4. End all cooperation (landing rights, refuelling) with rendition to torture flights, and institution of a full, mandatory inspection regime of all foreign aircraft landing in Canada to ensure this country is not even unwittingly an accessory to kidnapping and forced removal to torture.
5. Canada must immediately condemn the illegal detention and torture centre at Guanatanamo Bay, declare itself in opposition to the U.S.-led program of extraordinary rendition to torture and use of black sites for ghost detainees, and take such necessary steps to remove itself from international relationships (civil, military, and economic) that implicate Canada in torture.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. A right delayed is a right denied. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
CAN'T MAKE IT ? LIVE NOWHERE NEAR THE CARAVAN? DESPAIR NOT ! THERE'S AN ONLINE PETITION THAT YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR TO SUPPORT THEIR WORK. HERE'S THE NEWS...
Sign the Petition Against Torture
The Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture continues its way to Ottawa today after a successful Torture Tour of Toronto attended by over 50 people on May 1. Today, and once a week between now and the late June anniversary of the passage of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, we will be calling on folks to participate in solidarity actions to end Canadian Involvement in Torture.
This week's solidarity action #1
While Canada is a signatory to that Convention, it regularly violates its obligations as a signatory nation, and the many ways in which that occurs are a focus of the Caravan. A major focus of this week's Caravan to Ottawa will be the cases of three Canadian torture survivors, who will take their renewed call to open up the secret Iacobucci Inquiry into their cases on Thursday, May 8 in Ottawa.
Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin were all tortured overseas with Canadian government complicity (see details at www.abdullahalmalki.com) Throughout this week they will be calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to change the terms of reference for the inquiry so that they, their lawyers, and the public can attend and get answers as to the role of Canadian officials in their overseas detention, interrogation, and torture.
To date, neither the men, their lawyers, nor the public have seen a single document or been allowed to hear a single witness in the completely secret process.
Please sign the online petition demanding an open inquiry at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/petition/729860832
Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
PS: Please share this as widely as possible!