I have unfortunately let cynicism creep into my life lately. I have somehow rationalized that most of what i do is generally is quite meaningless, but i continue to do it anyway as i love the people and most of the time love the work even though i know it is barely a drop in the worlds body of knowledge and my position in this life holds little if any power to influence the issues that i think are really important. Events in the last couple of days are suggesting that i should not slide into that cynical terrain and that i should continue to maintain a sense of naive hopefulness.
Today, something very big and important happened in Canada. Today the years of hard work by Monia Mazigh Arar has born fruit. This woman took on Canada’s, the US’s and the world’s legal machinery to correct the injustices the current climate of fear has wrought upon her husband. Her husband was sent to a third party country to be incarcerated and tortured as he was wrongfully suspected of being a terrorist. Maher Arar, a Canadian Citizen with dual citizenship with Syria was wongfully sent to Syria in 2002 on a hunch, speculation, misinformation, incompetence, in a climate of fear and a tip of the power scales. He spent 1 year in a Syrian prison while our nation’s leaders where under the anesthetic threat of terrorism that tempered their will to get him out. The Canadian public was no better as we let draconian laws infringe on our rights to legal council, to a fair trial and the principal of being innocent before being proven guilty. We let a man be knowingly tortured by a third party, cuz we do not do that sorta thing here. These laws came into place as we were drugged by fear, apathy and comfort. As my son would say "forget your rights and they will disappear". And forget we did, as the laws got passed, rights got taken away and our lives seem unaffected. These laws and that climate however did affect Maher Arar, his wife Monia and their son.
Today, Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) apologized in the House of Commons for the wrong doing done to the Arar Mazigh family shortly after Judge O’Connor’s Arar Commission Enquiry report was released.
I know some of the people who worked on this case and let me tell you they made incredible sacrifices in their lives to make sure that the Arar Mazigh family was vindicated and that we as a nation learn what it really means to be sovereigh, responsible, democratic and a nation based on equal rights and justice. To them i give thanks. Below i paste the full article from the CBC newswire as this is truly groundbreaking and an example what will, love and the determination of one person can do:
Last Updated: Thursday, September 28, 2006 | 5:51 AM ET
RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli apologized on Thursday to Maher Arar, 10 days after a report criticized the Mounties for their role in Maher’s deportation and torture in Syria.
Zaccardelli made the statement at the House of Commons committee on public safety and national security, which is looking at Justice Dennis O’Connor’s report on the Arar case. This is his first public statement on the report, which was released Sept. 18.
His silence has been raised in the House of Commons and some opposition MPs have demanded that he resign over the matter.
Yet a number of observers, both within and outside the RCMP, have suggested Zaccardelli has been eager to respond but has been muzzled by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet. Harper dismissed such suggestions earlier in the week.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day is also expected to appear before the committee on Thursday, as it hears on O’Connor’s report.
Arar, an engineer who was born in Syria, was travelling back to his home in Ottawa from a family vacation in Tunisia in September 2002 when he was detained during a stopover in New York City. Within days, he was sent to Syria, where he says government officials held him, tortured him and kept him in jail for 10 months. U.S. authorities had accused Arar of having terrorist links.
O’Connor, who chaired a public inquiry into the case, cleared Arar of any wrongdoing and said he was falsely accused.
He was very critical of the RCMP on several fronts, concluding:
- It was very likely that the United States used inaccurate information obtained from the RCMP when it detained Arar and deported him.
- Senior officers should have monitored less experienced officers more closely.
- The force should have supported efforts by the Department of Foreign Affairs to secure Arar’s release from Syria.
- The RCMP failed to provide accurate information to the federal government about its national security investigation into Arar.
Joe Comartin, a member of the Commons committee and New Democrat MP for the Ontario riding of Windsor-Tecumseh, told CBC News early Thursday that he wants to get to the bottom of the RCMP’s handling of the Arar case.
He said he would like to ask Zaccardelli whether the RCMP has pinpointed who leaked the wrong information to the U.S., and if so, how it plans to stop such leaks in the future.
If not, he plans to ask how it is going to find out and demand that those immediately responsible be disciplined.
Comartin said the information could have been leaked by "rogue elements" in the RCMP, members of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or even the Department of Foreign Affairs.
"The RCMP has been grossly besmirched by that conduct. It could have been easily done by someone in CSIS or Foreign Affairs," he told the CBC News. "It’s really important that the RCMP not live under that cloud. The whole of the RCMP is suffering from all of this."
Day has written to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff asking him to remove Arar from watch lists used at border points to identify potential terrorists. The public safety minister said Washington has yet to respond to the request.