a speech at the UN Commission on Human Rights, Canadian
Foreign Affairs Minister, Bill Graham has highlighted
over a ground I had previously covered in my TALKING
POINTS in this website.
Minister, an outspoken human rights advocate,
told delegates in Geneva "if we disregard
human rights we will only be creating new sources
of injustice, thus sowing the seeds of future
Foreign Affairs Minister, Bill Graham
like minded human rights campaigners with support
from Bertrand Kamcharan, the UN's acting High Commissioner
for Human Rights, had hoped they would push through
a Mexican-sponsored resolution at the session to appoint
an independent expert to monitor the behaviour of
governments as they crack down on groups and individuals
they perceived to be terrorists.
due to the recent Madrid bombings, concerns about
terrorism have overshadowed other issues, such as
human rights and the worldwide HIV crisis, which the
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister described as crisis
involving human rights. "It's the development
of whole societies that is threatened by this disease,"
DEPORTING CITIZENS WITHOUT CHARGE OR REASON
some 30 American-Somalis living and working in the
United States have been deported without charge or
reason. All were shackled together on the aircraft
and when they complained they were beaten and drugged.
to news agencies, all medications were taken from
them, including insulin from diabetes and anti-depressants,
causing anxiety among the users. "They kept asking
us if we knew Al-Itihad," one of them told a
press conference on arrival in Djibouti, adding that
most of them left Somalia in 1978 and became American
is a home grown Islamic organization that fought against
the Ethiopian army in the 1980s but the group now
run out of steam and is engaged in charity work in
of the deportees hardly speak the Somali language
or knew anybody in war-ravaged Somalia. Unarmed, with
no money or documents (their documents have been impounded
by the newly created U.S. Air Marshals and the FBI
before they boarded the aircraft), they were stranded
and are unable to hire armed bodyguards to protect
them in a country where the gun rules.
families are desperate to know their whereabouts as
they were secretly whisked out of the United States.
is illegal to deport citizens to a country without
a functioning government, such as Somalia. But for
some strange reason the story has received little
attention in the Western media or human rights organizations,
such as Amnesty International.
"They had kidnapped my son. I didn't even know
he had been deported. I was told nothing," lamented
the father of a 20-year-old who was a university student
in Seattle, Washington State.
Toronto, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
(CJFE) recently issued a damning report about laws
that erodes rights of the individual. The CJFE report
says: "An increasingly number of countries are
responding to September 11 in ways which erodes rights.
Indeed, many governments are using the war on terrorism
to further clamp down on critical voices within their
own countries, including writers, journalists, political
dissidents and even ordinary citizens.
report says: "The USA Patriotic Act signed into
law October 26, 2001 gives the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(the FBI) extensive powers to wiretap anyone suspected
of working with terrorists; read monitor mail and
email, access to business records (freezing bank accounts);
indefinitely detain citizens and conduct secret searches.
The law gives the Central Intelligence Agency (the
CIA) authorities to obtain all Federal Grand Jury
information, including police records, wiretap transcripts
and testimony without court order."
The Canadian Journalists for Free Expression believes:
"that true security depends on rigorous respect
for civil liberty. Restriction on freedom of expression
here in Canada (Bill C-36) or elsewhere around the
from enhancing security are likely to breed insecurity,
as unpopular ideas whose expression runs the risk
of attracting attention from law-enforcement agencies
are driven into the shadows. Security measures that
threaten freedom of expression could have the effect
of forcing dissent underground, perhaps making legitimate
dissent take forms that represent danger to society."
reports allege that people, especially those with
Muslim sounding names or those who wear turbans and
beards, or look like Middle eastern are caught between
a hard rock and a hard place, trying to survive in
predominantly Christian countries (North America and
Europe) without being apprehended for belonging to
a terrorist organization.
press reports say that even Sikhs with their long
beards and turbans have been in danger of being
arrested because they looked like members of the
Al-Qaeda network! Many innocent people are languishing
in jails and police holding cells without access
to their families or lawyers.
are deported to countries they had never seen or left
with their parents when they were babies or toddlers.
A good example is the 30 Somali-Americans mentioned
M. M. Afrah©2004