Tag Archives: human rights

torture in afghanistan: who are our enemies?

my vancouver blogger friend jonathan narvey has a discussion about the current allegations that the canadian military looked the other way when people they had detained in afghanistan were transferred to afghani prisons where the canadian military knew, or should have known, that the detainees would be tortured. please see jonathan’s article and various comments, including two from myself, here.

among others, jonathan referred to the taliban as “our enemies.” to that i said:

they are not OUR enemies. they are the enemies of a country in dire need of peace and democracy. our enemies, as the enemies of the world all over, are despotism, poverty, fanaticism, lack of education, misogyny and war.

jonathan replied that

our enemies are more than conceptual

i’d like to use this space to think about this a bit.

“the problem is the problem. people are not the problem” is one tenet frequently cited in psychology, in various forms (e.g. “i like you but not your behaviour XYZ.”)

so i see three things right now:

1. if we want to move away from the conceptual then we have to admit that “enemies” refers to people. who are these people? THE taliban? (or in the past, THE russians, THE germans, etc.) “the” taliban is a movement – a vague word if there ever was one – comprised of people from afghanistan and pakistan as well as uzbekistan, chechnya, etc. what we know about movements, especially authoritarian ones, is that the vast majority of people involved in them became members not because of sober decisionmaking but because of necessity, sentimentality (e.g. misunderstood religiosity/fanaticism), coercion or other unsavoury reasons. is the 13-year-old hero-worshipping boy our enemy? the father of 9 children who doesn’t know how to feed them? the grandfather who was told in no uncertain ways that he needs to join or else?

no, “the” taliban are not my enemies.

2. in fact, the word “enemy” does not work for me. as soon as i have an enemy, i give myself permission to treat her or him as unworthy of living. “the enemy” is not my problem.

3. but i agree that abstract concepts are not useful either.

so why don’t we say it like that:

people who rape, maltreat, murder, beat, torture, subjugate and commit other crimes need to be stopped and measures need to be put in place to prevent them from committing more crimes – through rehabilitation, incarceration or a combination of them.  (not through torture)

some of these people are in afghanistan. not all of them.  some of them are taliban. not all of them.

i am grateful that our military is trying to deal with the people who literally commit crimes against humanity.  it’s a very difficult job.  in all difficult jobs, mistakes are made.  i think it’s possible that one of the mistakes was to hand over detainees to prisons where torture was commonplace.  we need to look at that because if we don’t we, too, commit an act of criminal negligence.

light a candle for tibet – and for so much more

today, august 7th 2008, is the day before the opening ceremony of the olympic games in beijing. on this day, millions of people from all over the world will light a candle and say yes to freedom in tibet! find out more here on the candles for tibet site.

i know, this is a bit of a repeat from my post yesterday but this is important enough to repeat it.  important things need to be repeated, and thought and talked about over and over again.

what i’m thinking today: yes, this is about tibet.  about lighting the candle of freedom in the black night of oppression.

it’s also about lighting the candle of peace activism in the dim chaos of war, aggression and lovelessness.

it’s about lighting the candle of thoughtfulness and reflection in the shadowland of olympic consumerism.

it’s about lighting the candle of beauty  amidst despair and bleakness.

and because it’s also about lighting the candle of healing in nights of pain and sorrow, i’d like to invite my fellow hosts from the carnival of healing to rise up together and each to bring healing thoughts and light to the world on this special day.

here they are:

jaelin k. reece
christopher stewart
evelyn rodriguez
lucy macdonald
elisa camahort
brendan mcphillips
scott k. smith
dr. deborah serani
edward mills
hueina su
cindy hebbard
katelyn at life without memories
cardin lilly routh
clara myers
tupten choepel (tc)
mary guarino kearns ramsay
debra moorhead
jessika d’arcy
ife oshun
eric gray
astrid lee
lola fayemi
dee savoy
paula g
john robben
janet dagley dagley
daylle deanna schwartz
julie meyer
jenn givler
yael ernst
joe lasiter
tonie konig
cynthia quarta

blogathon: they’re all fighting the good fight

canadian mental health associationus vancouver bloggers aren’t the only ones who are participating in the blogathon. thanks to the wonderful organizing powers of day of blogs, people all over the internet are fighting the good fight and blogging for causes. here they are:

animal rights
trish is blogging for bay state equine rescue .
is blogging for the aspca .
kristin is blogging for the aspca .
the kapp pack
is blogging for mapaw siberian husky rescue .
erica is blogging for the aspca .
ellie is blogging for the aspca .
miss raye is blogging for wild horse rescue .
steve, kat, & wilbur are blogging for save our siberians siberspace rescue fund .
amie is blogging for world wildlife federation .
clairity is blogging for the aspca .
melissa is blogging for vital ground .
rachel is blogging for paws atlanta .

human rights
twyla is blogging for not for sale .
malagasy bloggers are blogging for zaza-vavy .
hilary is blogging for amnesty international .
brittany is blogging for invisible children .
starbase karma sci fi fan club is blogging for us campaign for burma .

poverty relief
jessica is blogging for sera je food fund .
linda is blogging for the christian children’s fund .

khouria jen is blogging for first book .
lindsey is blogging for first book .
lindsey is blogging for children’s literacy initiative .
shadarus is blogging for first book.

children/youth advocacy
karrie is blogging for the home for little wanderers .
nicki is blogging for camp to belong .
jeff is blogging for the tim horton children’s foundation .
tara is blogging for victory junction gang camp .
penni is blogging for the kasey kahne foundation .
jenny is blogging for the american society for deaf children .
crc is blogging for children’s hospice & palliative care coalition .

medical research
nikki is blogging for band of parents .
stephen is blogging for the autism clinic at montreal children’s hospital .
[title of group] is blogging for avert .
jen is blogging for st. jude children’s research hospital .
jessi is blogging for autism speaks .
jen is blogging for the american cancer society .
jl is blogging for aicr .
stefanie is blogging for st. jude’s children’s research hospital .
jennifer is blogging for amyloidosis research foundation .
aurora lamour is blogging for the national fibromyalgia association .
adam is blogging for the american cancer society .
bunni is blogging for band of parents.

renee is blogging for the depression and bipolar support alliance .
jennifer is blogging for jenny’s light .
scheherazade in blue jeans is blogging for the boston area rape crisis center .
marika is blogging for the national fibromyalgia association .
ellen is blogging for the american foundation for suicide prevention .
josie is blogging for guide dogs for the blind .
l-squared is blogging for leader dogs for the blind .
jenna is blogging for texas scottish rite hospital .
mj is blogging for helping uplift grieving survivors (hugs) .
clutterbug jen is blogging for the american cancer society .
reixe dyri is blogging for alzheimer’s association .
heather is blogging for national alliance on mental illness .
hope is blogging for rainn .
elizabeth is blogging for rainn .
gina is blogging for rainn .
moira is blogging for teenage cancer trust .
becky is blogging for rainn .
anna is blogging for planned parenthood mohawk hudson .
letterblade is blogging for planned parenthood .
isabella is blogging for canadian mental health association (vancouver/burnaby branch) .
cara is blogging for rainn .
melissa is blogging for kristen brooks hope center .
erin is blogging for rainn .