Friday, April 27, 2007

Lying and denying, while people are dying 

I haven't had a lot of time to blog this week, but I have been following this story: What Ottawa doesn't want you to know.
The Galloping Beaver has good coverage, here and here and here. As well as POGGE
There is a pattern here -- lying and denying over and over again, while Afghan prisoners are being tortured and killed.
Initially, the government denied the existence of the report, responding in writing that "no such report on human-rights performance in other countries exists." After complaints to the Access to Information Commissioner, it released a heavily edited version this week.
The redactions in the report were actually quite frightening, because they demonstrate so clearly the pattern of denial and deceit.
The deleted sections have nothing to do with state secrets, personnel issues, money, or protection of personal information. Instead, the deleted sentences confirm that prisoners turned over to the Afghan government by Canadian forces are being tortured.
Its pretty obvious that they were blacked out so that Harper and O'Connor and Hillier could all continue to spout the Harper line, echoed by the rest of the caucus, that nobody knew nothin' about nothin' -- let's call it the Sergeant Schultz defense "I know nothing, NOTHING!"
But the redactions did no good. The Globe and Mail found or was given its own copy of the report. And so they were able to figure out what the blacked-out lines said, thus exposing the Harper government's pathetic lies:
Among the sentences blacked out by the Foreign Affairs Department in the report's summary is "Extrajudicial executions, disappearances, torture and detention without trial are all too common," according to full passages of the report obtained independently by The Globe.
The Foreign Affairs report, titled Afghanistan-2006; Good Governance, Democratic Development and Human Rights, was marked "CEO" for Canadian Eyes Only. It seems to remove any last vestige of doubt that the senior officials and ministers knew that torture and abuse were rife in Afghan jails.
The report leaves untouched many paragraphs such as those beginning "one positive development" or "there are some bright spots."
But heavy dark blocks obliterate sentences such as "the overall human rights situation in Afghanistan deteriorated in 2006."
. . .
A comparison of the full text — parts of which were obtained by The Globe and Mail — with the edited version shows a consistent pattern of excising negative findings or observations from the report with positive ones left in.
There was no explanation for blacking out observations such as "military, intelligence and police forces have been accused of involvement in arbitrary arrest, kidnapping extortion, torture and extrajudicial killing."
. . .
The report raises a red flag for any government bound by the Geneva Conventions and responsible for safeguarding transferred detainees from torture and abuse.
It makes repeated dark references to the reputation and performance of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, or intelligence police. Most prisoners captured by Canadian troops are now turned over to the widely feared NDS, which is considered tougher but perhaps less corrupt that the Afghan National Police. "Allegations of torture and arbitrary detention by NDS officials have also been reported," the full text of the report says.
Another portion that is blacked out reads "widespread allegations of corruption and human-rights violations exist with respect to the Afghanistan National Police (ANP) and Ministry of Interior (MOI)."
This is what has been happening to them:
Most of those held by the NDS for an extended time said they were whipped with electrical cables, usually a bundle of wires about the length of an arm. Some said the whipping was so painful that they fell unconscious.
Interrogators also jammed cloth between the teeth of some detainees, who described hearing the sound of a hand-crank generator and feeling the hot flush of electricity coursing through their muscles, seizing them with spasms.
Another man said the police hung him by his ankles for eight days of beating. Still another said he panicked as interrogators put a plastic bag over his head and squeezed his windpipe.
Torturers also used cold as a weapon, according to detainees who complained of being stripped half-naked and forced to stand through winter nights when temperatures in Kandahar drop below freezing.
The men who survived these ordeals often seem like broken husks. They tell their stories with quiet voices and trembling hands. They can't sleep, they complain of chronic pain and they forget the simplest things, such as remembering to pull down their pants when they use the toilet.
After interrogation, the NDS often sends Taliban suspects to Sarpoza prison, on the western edge of the city. Detainees who arrive at the facility's tall metal gates are occasionally so badly impaired that they're incapable of caring for themselves properly and prison officials and fellow inmates complain that they're left with the chores of washing, dressing, and feeding them.

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