10.07.2009

why activism matters

Documents released today show that the Conservative government has taken more of an interest in Omar Khadr than they publicly admit. This detail from the CBC story jumped out at me.
Nolke [a member of the Foreign Affairs department] also took special interest in a flurry of public correspondence in February 2008, asking a colleague: "Of the 262 letters on Omar Khadr, how many were pro (eg. 'child soldier,' 'bring him back') and how many were con ('keep the terrorist at GTMO')?"

This is proof of why we should speak out, especially if we believe our view is held by the majority. It may feel like we're hitting a brick wall, but our opinions are being noticed. Omar Khadr is not back in Canada yet, but without all the people speaking out on his behalf, he might never be.

This private recognition by the government is not the only reason to raise our voices in protest. I believe we should stand for justice no matter who is listening. As Gandhi said, "You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result." But those results may be - probably are - cumulative. And invisible for a long time.

Another detail from the CBC story:
The Canadian Press obtained hundreds of pages of heavily censored records about the Khadr case from the Foreign Affairs Department. It took a complaint to the federal information commissioner to dislodge the files, initially requested in early May 2008.

You may recall the War Resisters Support Campaign has had a similar experience.

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks. Speak loudly, speak often. Don't give up.

4 comments:

David Heap said...

So very true, L-girl! They are always counting our letters and messages and calls, and you never know when you are going to contribute to a break-through.

Last spring I was one of a hundred or so people who initially contributed small amounts towards an air-fare for Mr. Abousfian Abdelrazik to fly home to Canada, an act which our government considered illegal (because he was on a 'terror suspect' no-fly list, through no fault of his own). I thought at the time that this was a necessary protest over a grave injustice done to a fellow citizen, but I honestly wasn't holding my breath for success as we vigilled in the cold rain in early April.

Today I shook Mr. Abdelrazik's hand, here in London. He is home (still facing horrendously kafka-esque legal issues, but the six years of forced exile are over) and on a cross-Canada speaking tour. There were a lot of factors that contributed to the pressure that finally brought him home, but it started with individual activists.

It would have been worth taking the stand on his behalf (of course!) even if we hadn't succeeded in bringing him home, but it was pretty cool to finally meet him.

Activism matters a lot.

L-girl said...

David, thanks for sharing that, it's a perfect example.

Oemissions said...

OK!!

Alison said...

Yes. Letter writing also gives support and ammo to MPs in the House who support your position - sometimes they even quote them