Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Three Years After Finding of Canadian Complicity in Torture, Silence Lingers in Ottawa.
By Matthew Behrens
(this story originally appeared at rabble.ca)
Three years after a secretive federal inquiry found that numerous agencies of the Canadian government were complicit in his torture, Ottawa’s Abdullah Almalki held a press conference on Parliament Hill October 25, where he released shocking documents to prove the alleged case against him was completely unfounded and based on racism.
Almalki, who was detained, interrogated, and tortured for 22 months in a Syrian dungeon, has sought answers to many questions since his return to Canada. Why was he targeted? How could agencies of his own government fabricate a case against him and then send questions to his Syrian torturers? He had hoped to participate in the Iacobucci Inquiry struck in 2007 to investigate both his case and those of Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, also tortured with Canadian complicity, but all three were completely shut out of the process, along with their lawyers, the public, and the media.
The Iacobucci report, released in October 2008, found, among other conclusions, that “several of the Canadian officials involved in the decision to send questions for Mr. Almalki were aware that doing so created a serious risk that Mr. Almalki would be tortured.” It also found “Some of the RCMP members involved in the decision to send questions for Mr. Almalki displayed a dismissive attitude towards the issue of human rights and the possibility of torture.”
The report cleared the three men of the serious allegations that had been created about them by CSIS and the RCMP, noting that in the case of Mr. Almalki, a description of him as an “imminent threat” to national security was not only “inflammatory, inaccurate, and lacking investigative foundation,” it was in fact meant to describe someone else.
But the damning findings of the Iacobucci inquiry did not provide a sufficient enough explanation both for what happened and why it occurred, and certainly failed to lay proper blame and seek accountability.
Since that time, Almalki has sifted through many pages of documents he received under freedom of access to information, and was shocked to discover what he found.
“Ten years ago, I never thought that one day I would be standing and speaking publicly about racism,” Almalki says. “I think I had the grace of not experiencing racism in my life before.”
The occasion for his comments was the October 25 release of RCMP internal documents from 2001. About three weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the RCMP sent a dangerous, inflammatory memo to Syria and the intelligence agencies of numerous other countries suggesting Almalki was an “imminent threat” to the public safety and security of Canada. Yet that same day, the RCMP’s own assessment showed he was not a threat at all. “O Div. task force are presently finding it difficult to establish anything on him other than the fact that he is an arab running around,” the document reads.
“It is not only heartbreaking and extremely disappointing to see that the biggest police force in Canada is racist,” Almalki says. “It is rather disgusting and outrageous when you see that this would lead to making up and fabricating accusations about a person that resulted in torture and illegal detention.
“Racism blinds people, impairs their judgment, shrinks their cognitive abilities, and diminishes moral values. Racism stinks and stings.”