Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture

CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture
October 24-26, 2011

Join us for three days of public witness, vigils, speakouts, and walks throughout Ottawa as we shine a spotlight on Canadian institutions, public and private, that are complicit in the torture of human beings. Details of getting involved are at the bottom of this email.

Quite simply, because the Government of Canada condones torture, and there are crime scenes throughout the city where evidence of this complicity has been found by courts, judicial inquiries, and other venues. Examples of such institutions include the RCMP, CSIS, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Dept. of Justice, and the War Department. Secrecy has repeatedly been invoked to prevent further evidence of such complicity from entering the public sphere, and those who have made criminal decisions leading to torture have not been charged and held to account.

Clearly, yellow crime scene tape needs to go up all over the city.

October 21 will mark three years since a secretive federal inquiry found the government of Canada complicit in the torture of Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin. Yet the government refuses to accept the findings of its own inquiry, an inquiry in which only its side of the complicity in torture was heard, an inquiry in which none of those who were tortured, nor their lawyers, nor the public, nor the media were allowed to attend. And even with the cards stacked so much in favour of the government, the government was found to be complicit. Now that these three men seek an apology, compensation, and accountability, the government questions the fact that they have been tortured.

October will also mark 28 months since a report from the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security of the House of Commons called for an immediate apology for all thee men, along with compensation "for the suffering they endured and the difficulties they encountered." The committee released a report that also called on the federal government to "do everything necessary to correct misinformation that may exist in records administered by national security agencies in Canada or abroad with respect to" the three men and their family members.
(full report: )

Importantly, the Committee called on "the Government of Canada [to] issue a clear ministerial directive against torture and the use of information obtained from torture for all departments and agencies responsible for national security. The ministerial directive must clearly state that the exchange of information with countries is prohibited when there is a credible risk that it could lead, or contribute, to the use of torture."

On December 3, 2009, that report and its recommendations were endorsed by the majority of the House of Commons. The Harper government refused to act on the will of the majority of the House of Commons.

The rationale behind CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture is to place renewed focus on federal institutions in Ottawa that are complicit in the torture of Canadian citizens, refugees, and immigrants, as well as citizens of countries occupied by Canadian forces. While Canada’s broader complicity in torture will provide an educational backdrop for the week’s events, the specific demands will be:

the federal government's acknowledgement of and implementation of the Standing Committee’s recommendations;
that the Harper government act immediately on the December, 2009 majority vote of the House of Commons endorsing that report;
the full release of all documents related to these cases to the men and their lawyers;
acts of accountability to ensure such actions never again occur.

The Supreme Court acknowledges the torture of a Canadian citizen in Guantanamo Bay but does nothing to bring him home, and refused to close the door on the possibility of Canada deporting refugees and permanent residents to torture.

Canada has never condemned acts of torture in Guantanamo Bay, nor in sites where its commanders and soldiers may well have known of acts of torture during their role in occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ten years ago, Canada rendered an Algerian refugee to torture, and while documents clearly show the government knew it was legally culpable, it has refused to apologize and compensate.

Canada refuses to arrest and prosecute George W. Bush nor any members of his administration, all of whom have proudly admitted ordering torture. Canada has refused to condemn Barack Obama's continuation of those illegal acts.

Canada refuses to come clean on its role in hosting CIA rendition-to-torture flights.

CSIS and its oversight body admit they use information gleaned from torture.

Canada has effectively shut down an inquiry into the role of Canadian troops in Afghanistan who have knowingly transferred detainees to torture.

Canada hosts branch plants of American corporations involved in torture of detainees.

Canada places “free trade” above human rights in its relations with torture-ridden regimes such as Colombia, Ethiopia and China.

Canada defends torturing regimes like Iran from being sued for the torture and murder of Canadian citizens.

The list goes on.

You are invited to come to Ottawa and be one of our CSI team members, a crime scene investigator who will help lay out the crime scene tape, join street theatre with hooded "detainees," read out publicly from documents that show Canadian complicity in torture, and encourage whistleblowers within these institutions to hand over relevant documents and key evidence so that we may seek arrests, trials and, ultimately, fundamental systemic changes.

The CSI demonstrations will be nonviolent and theatrical and invite the creativity of those directly on the ground as well as those who can contribute from afar. Because we will be there acting as upholders of the rule of law, our role will be to act in a style that is respectful of all potential suspects we run across, refusing to humiliate or harm any individual who works for the complicit institutions. Our job is simply to bring them to justice.

Most of the institutions are fenced in to protect them from democracy, transparency, and accountability. Those fences can be decorated with messages from across the country of people who send simple statements or banner: “We are watching CSIS: Name of Community” or similar declarations can be affixed to sites of complicity in torture.

Individuals may wish to dress in their best Miami Vice-style jackets, bring magnifying glasses, cameras, crime scene tape, white lab coats, cotton swab sticks, whatever we need to carry out the job.

We would hope that the code of silence that normally frustrates criminal investigations will not hamper our own investigation, and we would encourage government officials and all those who know of crimes such as complicity in torture to exercise their conscience and their legal responsibilities and come clean, whether they are justice department lawyers advising those engaged in complicity, CSIS and RCMP, or Supreme Court judges who do nothing while Canadian citizens are tortured.

1. If you plan to join us in Ottawa (or live in Ottawa), please let us know which days you are able to take part in the torture tours and public events, which generally will run from 10 am-4 pm.

2. Do you have a vehicle that can help transport people to different sites of complicity?

3. If you are coming from out of town, do you need a place to stay? Please let us know asap.

4. If you can provide a place to stay for out-of-town participants for three nights (Sunday-Tuesday), please let us know (and for how many people).

5. Contributions to help with our expenses are greatly appreciated, and can be made out to Homes not Bombs and mailed to PO Box 2020, 57 Foster Street, Perth, ON K7H 2H8.

Stay in touch with us at

CSI Ottawa is organized by Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture, which has organized a series of cross-Ontario caravans and other activities in solidarity with those who have been targetted for torture by the Canadian government. More at

For more information: Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture,, PO Box 2020, 57 Foster Street, Perth ON K7H 1R0

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