– by Shenali D Waduge –
Mr. Stephen Harper is sadly mistaken if he thinks by raising hue and cry singling out Sri Lanka while ignoring the criminal past of Canada and the crimes of its revered ‘civilized’ Western countries especially Britain, we in Sri Lanka are concerned. With Canada’s own guilty past of treating its Aboriginal natives it is we who should be questioning Canada and not the other way round!
Canada respect the Aboriginal Natives first!
What would Stephen Harper, champion of human rights have to say about the Gradual Civilization Act passed in Upper Canada in 1857 permanently disenfranchising all Indian and Metis peoples, placing them in a separate, inferior legal category than the rest of the citizens? Obviously Canada did not think of its human rights shortcomings because 17 years later in 1874 the Canadian Parliament introduced the Indian Act where Aboriginals were imprisoned on reserve lands and are legal wards of the state. The nation that is talking about religious rights today in 1884 passed legislation creating a system of state-funded church administered Indian Residential Schools and by 1905 there were over one hundred residential schools across Canada and over 60% run by Roman Catholics! By 1910 the federal government and the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist churches established a contract obligating churches to run all Indian Residential Schools for children above 7. Please do not preach to us on treatment of minorities or religious rights having a record that Canada cannot boast of. How was the health conditions of these schools Mr. Harper? The Medical Inspector Dr. Peter Bryce had only to say the conditions were ‘criminal’ and why was it criminal Mr. Harper? These native children had been deliberately infected with diseases like tuberculosis 75% affected and the children had been let to die with death rates reaching over 40% in these schools – how’s that for human rights Canadian style! And what happens to Dr. Bryce – Canada expels him from the civil service for spilling the beans and then Canada abolishes the post of Medical Inspector for the Indian residential schools – how’s that for human rights! That must be the type of justice that Canada and Stephen Harper advocates!
Then in 1928 Alberta passes the Sexual Sterilization Act and we do not need to carry our imagination far to decipher what happened to the Indians – they were sterilized – 3500 Indian women. In 1933 British Columbia too passed the Sexual Sterilization Act and the centers were established by the United Church of Canada. The Principals of these residential schools were made legal guardians of these native children and every native parent by law was forced to surrender legal custody of their children to the Principal who was a church employee. Those that didn’t faced imprisonment. Mr. Harper you are preaching to us about human rights, equality of religion and rights of minorities!
Thousands of native men and women were sterilized by missionary doctors until 1980s (nineteen eighties – in case anyone thinks there is typo error) – how is that for human rights Mr. Harper! What torment has the White Canadians been treating these Indian natives was revealed in a CIA program called Project Paperclip that used biological warfare and mind control experiments on these residential schools which started in 1946 and continued throughout 1970s.
What about the White Paper presented to Parliament in 1969 denying sovereignty and equal status to native nations? It was only in 1990 that ‘abuses’ in residential schools was brought into the open for the first time. It was in 1994 that eyewitnesses to the murders of natives at the residential schools by the United Church Alberni came out and spoke. Rev. Kevin Annett is summarily fired and expelled from the United Church ministry suffering no different a fate to Dr. Bryce. Another instance of human rights Canadian style. Rev. Annett’s crime being that he documented evidence of murder, sterilizations and other atrocities at the residential schools with number of lawsuits against the Churches and government by the survivors of these residential schools climbing to over 5000 which climbs to over 10,000 by year 2000 – how does Canada the supposed human rights champion respond? Canada’s federal government introduces legislation to limit the number of lawsuits!
It was in 1998 that the first independent Tribunal into these atrocities was convened in Vancouver by the International Human Rights Association of American Minorities affiliated to the UN – the Tribunal conclusion was that the Government of Canada, the Catholic, United and Anglican Churches were guilty of complicity in Genocide and went on to recommend that the UN investigate into War Crimes. Now what did Stephen Harper accuse Sri Lanka? Let us remind Harper and scores of others mesmerized by Channel 4 lies that in 4 years despite making an annual sensationalized promotion they have not produced the names of the victims, the identities of the accused absolutely nothing is substantiated with evidence. The Canadian Tribunal however, declares Canada and the Church guilty of war crimes – it may be time countries started to pressurize Canada to own up to its crimes.
Stephen Harper who cannot think of attending the CHOGM hosted by Sri Lanka may well like to explain why Canada would take till 2000 to admit that native children in the residential schools were deliberately used as medical experiments and even for paedophiles involving senior judges, politicians and church leaders and all these details are available in the six year study of Genocide in Canada ‘Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust’. A documentary was broadcast in Vancouver and United Church official Brian Thorpe admitted that criminal action took place to natives in the residential schools thus proving Rev. Annett’s claims.
What Canada and the Church cannot escape from is the fact that since 1890 to 1984 these ‘residential schools’ for natives had indulged in land theft, mass sterilization, medical experiment, sexual terrorism and deaths exceeding 50,000 children – if this is not a human rights violation and crimes against humanity what is given that Canada ratified the Convention on Genocide in 1952? As for the Churches which continue with funding of the taxpayer have never been questioned on why its revenues are not spent on charitable activities but on lawyers, public relations experts, corporate investments and rightfully their charitable tax-free status should be revoked after conducting an audit by Revenue Canada.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada has documented startling details of missing and murdered Aboriginal women 90% of whom were mothers. The Picton farm murders in British Columbia in 2002 with 33 victims being identified through DNA. Robert Picton was convicted of second degree murder of 6 women with the courts protecting him from retrial for first degree murder of 20 others. The situation must have been so grave that Human Rights Watch in February 2013 released its report on the treatment of Aboriginal women by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia. The report covers sexual abuse of native women in police custody, failure of law enforcement to protect indigenous women from abuse, police inaction on missing aboriginal women, no avenues for recourse for police inaction, instances of law enforcement and judiciary collusion in the abuse, rape and prostitution of aboriginal girls and women. Mr. Harper speaking so much about judiciary in Sri Lanka may well like to explain how Aboriginal women comprise 85% of Canada’s prison population when there are just 4% Aboriginal women in Canada!
While Stephen Harper does not get sleep thinking of human rights in Sri Lanka – details he is picking up from sources without substantiating evidence to prove, he remains stoic silent on carrying out a National inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada. If Harper is so concerned about human rights why does he not address issues of Aboriginal rights? Is it not the legacy of the same colonial mindset that stops Harper from signing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?
What a shame for Canada when the West’s own puppet the UN sends its Special Rappoteur on Hunger to report on Aboriginal access to food in 2013 – in a country where food is relatively cheaper than other first world nations!
Of course many in Sri Lanka will claim that with over 300,000 Tamil Diaspora living in Canada the political parties are all wooing for their votes. Lets also not forget that Canada has banned some of these Tamil charities and even locked up some of their Tamil directors for funding and sponsoring terror. Be that as it may with all political parties courting the Tamil Diaspora it only means split vote and that wont lead to much groundbreaking achievement for any party. It is also a matter of time that ‘internal-self determination’ will kickstart in Canada with Tamils groaning for their language, culture and other rights and there are many ‘friends’ in the First World ready to fund these campaigns into ‘Springs’ too, besides Canada has enough of space to divide its territory.
What we would also like to remind Harper is that if human rights is a concern for Canada and in particular Harper why is Canada striking deals with China for the US the self-appointed human rights crusader openly accuses China of human rights abuses? Why has Canada strengthened ties with Saudi Arabia which has outlawed labor unions, stifled independent media, where Christians are banned from owning bibles or attending Church (there are no Churches in Saudi anyway), a country that co-partnered the Arab Spring with the West – which is probably why John Baird the former prime minister turned corporate lobbyist has no qualms about striking deals with Saudi Arabia and why $600million Saudi contracts have come to Canada while Canada exported arms worth a whopping $4billion to Saudi, 1000 light armoured vehicles too!
Mr. Harper’s choice not to attend Sri Lanka’s CHOGM does not surprise us nor does it affect Sri Lanka in the least. Gambia has shown what a farce the Commonwealth is anyway by claiming it wishes to have nothing to do with an institution that is extending colonial rule. With Canada also a former colony claiming for different reasons not to attend the trend if continued would hopefully dismantle the entire Commonwealth farcical tamasha for good because there is nothing ‘Common’ about the 54 nations except that they were all once forcibly invaded, natives suffered cruelty, death, plunder of lands and suffer divisions planted by the colonial imperialists. There is no wealth shared equally and most of all there is no APOLOGY, NO ACCOUNTABILITY and NO COMPENSATION for the crimes committed. There cannot be a time bar on crimes and there cannot be exclusivity of the perpetrators. As things stand colonial imperialists are guilty of a host of crimes no where near to the allegations they are now making against the Third World nations. The Third World nations are in a state of denial if they wish to act with colonial subservience still despite gaining sovereign status. The goal of all former colonies who are all Third World nations should be to be on the right side of history and not pretend there was anything nice about being invaded, ruled and treated as third grade citizens in one’s own land. We need to decolonize our minds. We need to shrug ourselves from the Commonwealth cultural bomb that is denying pride in our native culture and traditions except to showcase during ceremonial functions only.
It is time the Third World began to decolonize themselves before they end up compromising whatever sovereignty they now enjoy falling prey to a different kind of colonial invasion.