In 2007, Amir Attaran, law professor at University of Ottawa, famously wrote an opinion piece that stated his belief that the then-new Canada-Afghanistan detainee agreement left a loophole open that would allow for torture of prisoners. Turns out, he was practically prescient even without evidence of such, and yet nobody heeded his words.
The bombshell dropped last week — a former Canadian diplomat to Afghanistan stated as much, saying “[a]ccording to our information, the likelihood is that all the Afghans we handed over were tortured. For interrogators in Kandahar, it was a standard operating procedure.”
This coupled with the fact that Canadian operatives were “taking six times as many detainees as British troops and 20 times as many as the Dutch”, and “did not monitor their conditions; took days, weeks or months to notify the Red Cross; kept poor records; and to prevent scrutiny, the Canadian Forces leadership concealed this behind ‘walls of secrecy.’” This indicates not only were Canadians complicit, they were criminally negligent in handling detainees. They were, in essence, rounding up large masses of people, turning them over to Afghan authorities, and allowing widespread torture of probably innocent people. They relied on two oversight bodies that had no jurisdiction and no power to provide oversight, specifically the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and as neither body had any real power, major abuses including apparently electrocution, open flames and extreme temperatures happened as a direct result of our actions.
You can understand my outrage over this. Canada is known internationally as primarily peacekeeping specialists. I point the finger squarely at those unnamed government officials that set these precedents, discussed these actions openly, and covered these actions up. No matter which side of the political spectrum they are on, they MUST be held accountable.
That non-partisan outrage notwithstanding, there’s a familiar refrain being played from — and this should come as no surprise to those that have been paying attention for the last three years — the Tories.
Conservative members of the committee attacked his credibility and even suggested he was playing into the hands of the Taliban by undermining Canada’s military effort in Afghanistan.
“This entire exercise of attempting to draw a link between the Canadian Forces and prison treatment without a shred of evidence is playing right into the hands of the insurgents,” Tory MP Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke) said.
Because weeding out the evil scumbags responsible for these abuses is obviously equivalent to “lending aid and comfort”.
I weep for my country, especially where we were once on higher ground with regard to our handling of the wars Bush dragged Harper into. Now our politicians are as blood-stained.
From this article at World Socialist Web Site:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other senior Conservative ministers have claimed that they knew nothing of Colvin’s reports—although he sent them to senior officials at the CAF, the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and the Prime Minister’s Office—and had no reason, prior to Spring 2007, to believe that Afghan authorities were abusing detainees handed over to them by the CAF.
These claims have never been credible. The UN, the Afghan Human Rights Commission, an Afghan government body, and the US government had all said that they had evidence Afghan security forces routinely abused prisoners, including torturing them.
Regardless of this site’s political skew, I have no reason to doubt that the Conservatives in office presently and at the time of the wars would deny knowledge of these reports, despite this information being available pretty much everywhere.
Harper in March smeared his political opponents and pretty well everyone that dared to mention the brewing scandal over potential abuses:
I can understand the passion that the Leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers.
Mr. Harper, you are directly responsible for war crimes as Prime Minister while these war crimes were being discussed and subsequently covered up. You and your cabinet, and anyone who was complicit in these actions, must resign immediately. Especially in light of your trying to question the patriotism of those who would prefer Canada not become torturers. People who would prefer our fundamentally good nation not descend into the rabbit hole that is sacrificing our higher moral ground in the pursuit of a theocrat’s religious crusades.
I only hope we Canadians are a better people than those that allowed George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney to walk away from the bloody mess they created in the Middle East with nary a repercussion. And people wonder why I call him Bush-Lite.