News compilation by New Cold War.org, Jan 3, 2016
The blood on Canada’s hands
Weapons fair hits Ottawa as Amnesty International calls on Harper government to carry out human rights assessment of $15-billion armored vehicle deal with the Saudis
CANSEC, Canada’s annual weapons fair, played host May 27 and 28 in Ottawa to some of the world’s worst human rights violators and a who’s who of weapons manufacturers. Minister of Defence Jason Kenney spoke to a sell-out crowd of 4,000 arms wheelers and dealers at a noon-hour luncheon.
Outside, silent protestors held up large photos of the human costs of war, which startled some of the delegates, who seemed either to look away immediately or transfixed by the images, whether of Kim Phuc in Vietnam or the more recent faces from Gaza or Lebanon or Afghanistan conflicts.
Canada sells arms to Saudi Arabia while backing NATO threats against Russia, New Cold War.org, Sept 26, 2015
U.S. approve $1.3 billion sale of ‘smart bombs’ to Saudi Arabia, RT.com, Nov 17, 2015
The Saudi connection to terror, by Daniel Lazare, Consortium News, Nov 20, 2015
Amnesty International, meanwhile, is calling out the Harper government for failing to divulge the details of Canada’s $15-billion deal to sell armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, a country with scores of human rights violations related to its treatment of women. “There can be no secrecy when it comes to protecting human rights, no matter the country, no matter the context,” wrote Alex Neve in an open letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson May 28.
The letter notes that “the Canadian government has an obligation to carry out a human rights assessment of the deal to ensure that there is no reasonable risk that the [weapons] might be used against the civilian population.” But it’s unclear of such an assessment has taken place.
Amnesty’s recent annual report itemizes “serious and widespread” violations of human rights in Saudi Arabia, including reports of torture of detainees, and has expressed concerns about new laws in the kingdom “effectively equating criticism of the government and other peaceful activities with terrorism.”
Neve’s letter also raises the case of writer and activist Raif Badawi, whose refugee wife and children now live in Quebec. The creator of the Free Saudi Liberals website has been in prison since 2012 after being sentenced to 10 years and 1,000 lashes for his criticism of the Saudi government and its human rights violations. Amnesty is calling on the feds to ask for Badawi’s unconditional release.
With a file from Matthew Behrens.
Ottawa going ahead with Saudi arms deal despite condemning executions , by Steven Chase, The Globe and Mail, Jan 4, 2016
Canada must not downplay its arms deal with Saudi Arabia, by Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director of Project Ploughshares, co-authored with Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute, and Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, published in Huffington Post, Oct 28, 2015
Pressed by reporters in the final days of the federal election campaign, both outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau seemed to downplay the extent to which the largest arms deal in Canadian history is in fact an arms deal. While Mr. Harper referred to the $14.8-billion worth of armoured vehicles that Canada is poised to ship to Saudi Arabia as “transport vehicles,” Mr. Trudeau used the even more innocuous-sounding “jeeps” …
Ten facts about Canada’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia, by Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director of Project Ploughshares, Sept 25, 2015
Canada’s deluded wars of November, by Matthew Behrens, Rabble.ca, November 25, 2015
Excerpt: For those concerned with the gross amounts of money wasted on warfare by successive Canadian governments, the problem with the [Oct 19] 2015 federal election was that all the major parties supported spiritual death. Indeed, neither the Liberals nor the NDP vowed to cut Harper’s military spending, only to shift it around to different “priorities”. No one was so bold as to suggest that the $15-billion Canadian weapons contract to supply the beheading regime of Saudi Arabia should be cancelled (Trudeau only said he would make the contract more transparent). No one went beyond cancellation of an F-35 warplane contract to suggest we don’t need new warplanes (and Trudeau is committed to pouring countless billions into “new generation fighter aircraft” instead of putting those desperately needed funds into social spending).
In an election where each federal party boasted about their respective fiscal responsibility, they all supported maintaining and increasing historically high levels of Canadian war spending, despite the fact that the War Dept. is the single largest beneficiary of discretionary federal spending.
Canada’s largest trade union, UNIFOR, backed arms sales to Saudi Arabia, report on CBC News, Oct 1, 2015
No one running for prime minister plans to scrap Canada’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia, by Aaron Maté, VICE News, Oct 15, 2015
Family of Salim Alaradi alleges Canada withheld evidence of torture , by Jesselyn Cook, special to The Globe and Mail, Jan 3, 2016