Friday, November 16, 2007

Canada's complicity in torture

It's official--torture of prisoners of war in Afghanistan is routine, and our government has known about it from the beginning.

For some time now, credible accounts from sources like Amnesty International and University of Ottawa human rights professor Amir Attaran have been pooh-poohed, shrugged off or explained away by NATO, federal politicians, military leaders and their milblogger apologists. Now, thanks to the Globe and Mail, we know the truth, and as Canadians we should be ashamed, if we have any shame left over after the RCMP killing of Robert Dziekanski.

Fact: Officials knew of the routine torture of detainees while senior ministers of the Harper government were issuing public denials.

Fact: Prisoners turned over to the tender mercies of the installed Karzai regime have simply disappeared--possibly hundreds of them.

Fact: Visiting Canadian corrections officers
long ago offered first-hand accounts of the hell-holes to which captured prisoners have been consigned. Well before the Globe and Mail published its first report of torture this past Spring, one of them asked for better boots for herself and her team because they had to wade through blood and fecal matter on Afghan prison floors.

Canada is a willing and complicit partner in the savage mistreatment* of prisoners of war. (Go ahead and call them "detainees" if it makes you feel any better, and call handing them over to Afghan sadists a "detainee transfer" by all means.) All we've been getting from the Harper government is spin, spin, spin, deny, deny, deny, until a court forced the release of documents showing they've been in it up to their eyeballs from the start. One partially blacked-out report even suggests that Canadians were present during the "questioning" of "detainees." Good God.

Now, of course, there'll be yet another "investigation" to give the government yet more breathing space. But all along, as it turns out, we've had nothing from these moral imbeciles but a pack of lies, and we may as well be prepared for more of the same, folks, while the screams of the victims continue to ring out in Afghan dungeons.

*As POGGE reminds us, Harper doesn't want us to use the word "torture."

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