“Arrest Bush” — Amnesty International Asks Canada

October 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Michel Comte

October 13, 2011 “AFP” – Amnesty International called on Canadian authorities Wednesday to arrest and prosecute George W. Bush, saying the former US president authorized “torture” when he directed the US-led war on terror.

Bush is expected to attend an economic summit in Surrey in Canada’s westernmost British Columbia province on October 20.

In a memorandum submitted last month to Canada’s attorney general but only now released to the media, the London-based group charged that Bush has legal responsibility for a series of human rights violations.

“Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former president Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture,” Amnesty’s Susan Lee said in a statement.

“As the US authorities have, so far, failed to bring former president Bush to justice, the international community must step in. A failure by Canada to take action during his visit would violate the UN Convention Against Torture and demonstrate contempt for fundamental human rights,” Lee said.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney blasted Amnesty for “cherry picking cases to publicize, based on ideology.”

“This kind of stunt helps explain why so many respected human rights advocates have abandoned Amnesty International,” he said.

Kenney said it will be up to Canadian border officials to decide independently whether to allow Bush into the country.

Bush canceled a visit to Switzerland in February, after facing similar public calls for his arrest.

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International’s Canadian branch, told a press conference the rights group will pursue its case against the former US president with the governments of other countries he might visit.

“Torturers must face justice and their crimes are so egregious that the responsibility for ensuring justice is shared by all nations,” Neve said.

“Friend or foe, extraordinary or very ordinary times, most or least powerful nation, faced with concerns about terrorism or any other threat, torture must be stopped.

“Bringing to justice the people responsible for torture is central to that goal. It is the law… And no one, including the man who served as president of the world’s most powerful nation for eight years can be allowed to stand above that law.”

Amnesty, backed by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, claims Bush authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and “waterboarding” on detainees held in secret by the Central Intelligence Agency between 2002 and 2009.

The detention program included “torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (such as being forced to stay for hours in painful positions and sleep deprivation), and enforced disappearances,” it alleged.

Amnesty’s case, outlined in its 1,000-page memorandum, relies on the public record, US documents obtained through access to information requests, Bush’s own memoir and a Red Cross report critical of the US’s war on terror policies.

Amnesty cites several instances of alleged torture of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval facility, in Afghanistan and in Iraq, by the US military.

The cases include that of Zayn al Abidin Muhammed Husayn (known as Abu Zubaydah) and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, both arrested in Pakistan. The two men were waterboarded 266 times between them from 2002 to 2003, according to the CIA inspector general, cited by Amnesty.


The Jazz Ambassadors

November 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS) Middle East Correspondent

saxophone Just leave it to U.S. President Barack Obama to come up with an innovative way to mend the bridges that former President Bush annihilated in the Middle East region. Armed with trumpets, drums, voices smoother than silk and a piano, or two, the newly recruited ‘Jazz Ambassadors’ have set their sights high in U.S. Foreign Policy.

In 2005 Rhythm Road was created as a joint venture by the US State Department and Lincoln Center to share the beat of American music with the rest of the world. The program continues to grow by leaps and bounds and has captured the attention of America’s first African American President as a way to continue the dialogue he promised during his campaign speeches.

Throughout the history of America, the U.S. government has sought to bridge the cultural divide between nations through music. Since jazz is the epitome of American cultural expression and the lifeblood of art in it’s most raw form, what better platform for America to extend a hopeful hand to other nations around the world.

Every year the Rhythm Road tours a different segment of the World. This year, the motley crew of jazz musicians toured several international locales including Belarus, Myanmar and the Middle East while kicking up just a little bit of dust in the process. Composed of approximately 10 separate quartets, Rhythm Road musicians are spread out in the region that they are touring for maximum exposure and results. One band, The Chris Byar’s quartet, was dispatched to conservative Middle Eastern countries including Syria, Oman and Bahrain. The saxophonist was floored at the opportunity to play jazz for people who had never been exposed to the music genre, “These people have never heard jazz before,” he was recently quoted as saying.

The Jazz Ambassadors do a whole lot more than just play music on stage. They interact with the public by holding jam sessions in local hot spots and even offer classes for anyone wanting to learn a thing or two about Jazz. Some even visit the music department of local schools to give students a view of jazz up close and personal. Residents of the Middle East are often well acquainted with American pop music as the likes of Britney Spears and the Black-Eyed Peas typically blares out of the speakers of popular western tourist attractions in the region. For reasons that have never been spoken, publicly at least, it’s easier to trust the music than it is to trust American foreign policy which has consistently failed to win the hearts and minds of the every day Arab.

Middle East observers and commentators see Obama’s army of jazz musicians as a means to an end. The Bush Era has forever changed the way that Americans are perceived overseas in the Middle East as well as other regions. Through Jazz, American can connect to people from different cultural backgrounds without words but a common thread of humanity that ties us all together. Most, if not all, countries of the world have some sort of musical expression that has evolved throughout the ages. The drum, or daff, is the most popular musical instrument in the Middle East as Islamic traditions frowns upon music in general with the drum being the only acceptable means of creating music.

Enrollment in the Rhythm Road music program continues to grow with auditions for new musicians already underway to tour the globe in peace and understanding from the American people to whole new worlds.