By Barry Weisleder
Omar Khadr, the Canadian who was captured in the frenzy of a firefight in Afghanistan, and who was tortured in Guantanamo, remains a lightning rod for controversy. At the same time, his case reveals much about the character of the political parties that inhabit Parliament.
The $10.5 million settlement and apology by the Justin Trudeau Liberal government have raised the ire of the Conservative Party, right wing bloggers and talk show hosts. Former Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper weighed in to congratulate the demagogues and racists who seek to re-direct the funds to a U.S. military widow and to further punish Khadr.
But the Liberal Party deserves neither praise nor credit for trying to close this embarrassing file. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hand was forced by decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada, including its 2010 ruling that Khadr’s charter rights were breached. In that light, Khadr’s $20 million law suit seemed more than likely to win. And don’t forget that it was the Liberal government of Jean Chretien that sent thousands of Canadian troops on an imperialist mission impossible into Afghanistan. The same Liberal regime refused to press Washington to release Khadr, a Canadian citizen, into Ottawa’s custody. Indeed, Canadian officials interrogated him in Guantanamo in 2003 and 2004, without legal representation, knowing he was a minor and had been subjected to torture.
Despite the demise of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Khadr remains the only captive charged with killing a soldier. Is there another example, going back to the beginning of warfare?
The Tories and Liberals, like bad actors in a hard cop, soft cop drama, equally join the fray for power and plunder. They differ only over the rhetoric and timing to be employed, not principle.
The union-based New Democratic Party, on the other hand, has no material interest in supporting imperialism. Still, the NDP regularly gets sucked into backing wars due to a combination of pro-capitalism and cowardice on the part of its leaders. It wasn’t until after the 2006 federal NDP convention in Quebec City, where the NDP Socialist Caucus and other anti-war delegates won the issue, that the NDP parliamentary caucus under Leader Jack Layton finally demanded “Canada Out of Afghanistan.” For that policy, the corporate media dubbed him “Taliban Jack.”
More recently, the NDP has supported the bid for justice for Omar Khadr, but did so, sotto voce, and on purely legalistic grounds.
The Green Party, to its credit, lambasted the Conservative Loyal Opposition for its transparent racism and high disregard for civil liberties. The Bloc Quebecois took a similar stance.
Unfortunately, none of the parties addressed the root of the problem, the profit system – not even to the extent of demanding that Canada exit NATO.
by Barry Weisleder (dateline: Warsaw, July 23)
by Isaac Saney, National Spokesperson, Canadian Network On Cuba
On July 26, 1953, a group of courageous young men and women — led by Fidel Castro — attacked the Moncada Barracks in the city of Santiago de Cuba, and the Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Barracks in Bayamo, in an attempt to overthrow the U.S. supported puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista. As the island’s second largest military garrison, the Moncada Barracks was critical to Batista’s military control of southern Cuba. The goal was to seize the weapons and distribute them to the people and spark a national uprising that would not only overthrow the Batista dictatorship but also establish Cuba’s independence and sovereignty. This heroic act is annually commemorated all over Cuba as the beginning of the movement and struggle that laid the foundation of the Cuban Revolution.
This year’s commemorations are imbued with a particular poignancy; it is the first without the physical presence of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. Fidel epitomized the unbending commitment to Justice, Dignity and Independence that has characterized Cuba since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Fidel’s living legacy continues in the work of the Cuban Revolution. Fidel’s example and fidelity to principle continue to inspire the Cuban people, who continue on the path of independence, self-determination and human dignity.
The attacks were carried out by an organization that was created in 1952, under the leadership of Fidel Castro and Abel Santamaria, and comprised of young workers, students, artisans, peasants and landless farmers. It had around 1,500 members and affiliated itself with historic Cuban national liberation figures such as José Martí and Antonio Maceo. Around 120 youths were part of the attacks, approximately 70 of whom were killed, with many being tortured and executed after the attack. The survivors, including Fidel Castro, were subsequently put on trial and given lengthy prison sentences. Most, including Fidel Castro, were released after an amnesty in May 1955. This amnesty was the result of the mass mobilization of Cubans in support of the imprisoned rebels. Under the leadership of Fidel Castro, the July 26th Movement galvanized Cubans, ultimately leading to the victory of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959.
The Moncada Barracks shortly after the July 26, 1953 attack. The barracks have been converted into a school
and Museum of the Revolution where the bullet holes shown here can be seen to this day.
While the Moncada attack failed in fulfilling its immediate objective, it was central to the Cuban people’s struggle for national affirmation and social emancipation. Cubans have always placed Moncada in a broad historical context, viewing it as a crucial link in the century-long striving of Cuba to free itself from Spanish colonial domination and U.S. tutelage, and then, establish authentic independence. At his trial Fidel Castro delivered a speech that eventually became the manifesto of the movement to overthrow the Batista tyranny. It was published as La Historia Me Absolvera (History Will Absolve Me) and laid out the national and social goals of the revolutionary movement that eventually triumphed on January 1, 1959. Today, the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes barracks, now a school and a museum, stand as concrete symbols of that successful struggle.
Raúl and Fidel in the Sierra Maestra during the Cuban Revolutionary War
Since the Cuban people embarked on the road paved by Moncada, Cuba has refuted and continues to refute the colonialist mentality and practice of foisting on independent countries imperial arrangements and dictates that they resoundingly reject. The Cuban Revolution has refused to renounce its right to self-determination and the principles, principles forged in the crucible of Moncada. In the years that have flashed by since Moncada, the Cuban people have shown what is possible to achieve when one defends genuine independence and self-determination. The example of Cuba assumes even greater significance as the 21st century unfolds, fraught with grave dangers that threaten the well being of the peoples of the world. In the midst of these profound challenges, Cuba refutes those who argue that relations among the world’s nations and peoples are — and can only be — determined by self-interest, the pursuit of power and wealth. As Cuba continues on the path of social justice, human dignity and international solidarity, the Cuban Revolution continues to be an inspiration to humanity. Cuba demonstrates that it is possible to build relations based on genuine solidarity and social love; it is a living example of the alternatives that permit people to realize their deepest aspirations, and that another better world is possible. History has given its judgment, vindicating the attack on the Moncada Barracks!
Long Live the Martyrs of Moncada!
Long Live the Cuban Revolution!
Congratulations and thanks to all the guest speakers, members and supporters who helped to make the sixth annual Education for Activists Conference a success. Over forty-five people attended the Socialist Action School at OISE U of .