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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 and Mail published a series of stories last April detailing the abuse and torture of prisoners turned over by Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan’s notorious secret police, documents released this week show. The heavily censored documents also show that at the same time as senior ministers were denying evidence of abuse, officials on the ground in Afghanistan were collecting first-hand accounts from prisoners of mistreatment.

Not quite the same as “rendition” which Maher Ahar experienced under the Bush regime, but handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities, finding out they were being tortured or were “disappearing” , and then continuing to do the practice of turning them over anyhow is almost as bad. Our Cons. government has been complicit in this action, which as Amnesty International pointed out, is just as bad and just as against international law as the actual country doing the torturing.

It gets worse; when the stories came to light, the Cons tried desperately to make it sound like things weren’t as bad as they seemed, even as they continued to get reports that it was:

Meanwhile, in the months since May, after the government hastily arranged follow-up inspections in the wake of news reports, a different, but equally disturbing picture, emerges. It is of scores of disappeared detainees, of strong evidence of torture and abuse continuing despite the inspections and of a frantic effort, in the first few days after the stories appeared last April, to paint a far rosier picture than documented in secret diplomatic cables.

Sorta takes the nickname of “Deceivin’ Stephen” to a whole new level doesn’t it? Forget the Mulroney/Schreiber stuff – this is what we should be focusing on as a nation – of the disgraceful behaviour of our Conservative government with its callous disregard that torture was taking place, for human rights in general, and for international law.

One of the blogging collective at Pogge sums it up well, and he makes a good point that all we’ve seen are the parts of the documents that haven’t been censored:

So, clear documentary evidence that the Conservatives are lying scumbags with no respect for international law or the Geneva conventions or, basically, civilized behaviour of any sort. Colour me amazed. If this much got through, I wonder what’s so bad that they had to black it out?

Amnesty International is a well respected organization that has long been lauded for its work in bringing to public light mistreatment of prisoners and torture and illegal activities etc in dictatorships of all persuasions in all parts of the world. It has been lauded by Western governments for its work… and it must be commended for its work in helping to uncover the Afghan detainee abuses here, but it should make every Canadian with even just a hint of a moral conscience ashamed and embarrassed that this organization has turned its vigilance on this country, for the very acts that we at one time as a nation were firmly against, and seen as a beacon of standing up for human rights.

That beacon is now tarnished, and it is on this Conservative government’s and Stephen Harper’s heads.


8 comments to Appalling.

  • Scott,

    You’ve read my entries, no doubt, since you link to them in POGGE. You should understand my position as I’ve made it clear by now. But for the benefit of your readers, my position is that it is not necessarily of a question of whether international law is being contravened when it could be reasonably assumed according to military protocol that prisoners handed over to Afghan authorities would be treated humanely. Now that we understand there are concerns, instead of violently partisan attacks like your article, perhaps you could calmly persuade the federal government to lobby the Afghan government to provide more humane treatment for detainees, or to ensure that third-party aid groups are present to ensure humane treatment.

    Putting this all on the shoulders of our troops and government by accusing them of complicit, or worse yet, intentional assistance in torture, is rather alarmist and speaks to a bias against the conservatives beyond an interest in humanitarianism.

  • Rapahel:

    What part of international law where a country can’t knowingly hand over prisoners which are likely to be tortured do you not understand? It doesn’t matter whether the country is democratic or not (which is pretty debatable for Afghanistan)

  • Walkswithcoffee,

    Nobody is advocating torture. That is where the mainly progressive argument fails. We are arguing that Canada cannot be complicit in adhering to the protocol of the mission which states that detainees are be handed over the democratically elected government of Afghanistan for internal justice and jurisdictional procedure.

  • Walkswithcoffee

    Democratic countries cannot afford leadership void of empathy:

    A. torture doesn’t get you information of value
    B. torture leads to more torture, effecting our guys as well
    C. torture harms the torturer as well.



  • Interview government politicians… did you think they were going to say life is bad there, we are handing people over to be tortured… hell no… these folks will lie like sidewalks… Tory apologists have gotten it wrong before.

  • Oldschool,

    How do you spin this:

    "In February, conditions were so appalling in Afghan prisons that a Correctional Service Canada team asked for better boots with which to wade through the blood and feces on the floors."

  • Oldschool

    Interview Taliban prisoners . . . did you think they were going to say life is good here, we are sure glad to be in prison . . . hell no . . . these folks will lie like sidewalks . . . Amnesty Int has gotten it wrong before.

  • […] partisan attacks on Prime Minister Stephen Harper are nothing short of insulting. This is a mission which not only is a multilateral mission, but has […]

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