Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Harper turns a blind eye to torture

"PM defends policy on detainees." You know, the one where the Canadian government hands over Afghan detainees to the torturing Afghan National Directorate for Security. Sound familiar? Haven't we seen such practices before? Like the Bush administration's practice of extraordinary rendition that led to the torture of Maher Arar in Syria for which the Prime Minister apologized? Apparently that means little to the PMO gang.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper ignored growing allegations of torture in Afghan prisons and said Monday that Canadian soldiers will keep transferring detainees to local authorities in the war-torn country.

He rejected arguments from the opposition and human-rights experts who argue that Canada is breaking international law by exposing prisoners to torture and that Minister of Defence Gordon O'Connor must resign as a result.

Instead, the Prime Minister said that Canada's current agreement with Afghan authorities contains the necessary safeguards after being beefed up by his government.

“We take such allegations seriously. That is why we have concluded an agreement with the Afghan government,” Mr. Harper said. “It is why we will be in discussions with them to pursue this matter and to ensure that they have the capacity to undertake their terms of the agreement.”
So Harper and his crew, after coming under fire Monday, have decided to defend the status quo. Harper says the current agreement with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission - who don't get access to the prisoners by the way - is enough. And you know why? Because it's better than what the last Liberal government negotiated, says Mini Bush.
Mr. Harper said the Liberals had signed an inadequate policy, and that the Conservative government has improved it.

“The government has signed a new agreement. The previous Liberal government had an agreement in place that has proven to be inadequate despite their assurance,” Mr. Harper said.
That's our PM, ever primed for the partisan slash, Harper can't help himself. Accused of embarrassing our nation internationally and dragging us down into the muck with torturers, our guy's instinct is to toss a partisan barb at the last government. To cover his own a** first.

Grow up. This is not a game of one-upmanship. You're our Prime Minister, even for people like me who did not vote for you. You and O'Connor have embarrassed us and massively messed this up. The damage you've done to the respected Canadian image abroad and our values is at issue. It's about what we stand for. Don't you get it? There's not even the whiff of a hint that comes out of you that you understand this. Take responsibility and get it cleaned up instead of focusing on partisan maneuvers. James Travers gets it:
Along with either misunderstanding or putting a jolly face on Ottawa's suspect arrangement with Kabul, the minister somehow missed that what happened at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq made humane treatment of detainees in Afghanistan a precondition for mission support here at home.

Even if O'Connor doesn't get it, Canadians grasp that our behaviour there is inextricably linked to our declared purpose of advancing human rights, democracy and rule of law.

With the exception of the few still clinging to delusions about how modern conflicts are resolved, most Canadians also understand that the way we treat others is principally about us. It reaffirms our values, declares how we expect our troops to be treated and offers hope to ordinary Afghans that the future won't be just a replay of the past.
Our Prime Minister, on our behalf, needs to take steps that prove that he will no longer permit torture of prisoners that are turned over by Canadian Forces. That is exactly what we have condemned the U.S. for...and under Harper's watch, the exact same thing has now happened. Harper and his crew have been wilfully blind to this situation or they have been grossly incompetent. And Canadians will bear the international embarrassment and repercussions for their actions.

We call him Mini Bush for good reason here at the Impolitical blog.