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Letter to Canadian HC condemning police violence

Letter to Canadian High Commissioner condemning police violence

Radical Society
C/O Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association
Private Bag Wellington ph 473 8566 fax 499 7100


To the Canadian High Commissioner,

We are protesting today against the human rights abuses happening in Quebec at the moment against those who are protesting at the Summit of the Americas free trade meeting.

The city of Quebec is surrounded by an eight foot chain link fence to exclude protestors, which is itself illegal under Canada's charter. But even outside this area, in "green zones" where protest is still legal and where it is supposed to be safe to bring children, peaceful protestors have been teargassed, shot with hard plastic bullets and metal "beanbags" fired from shotguns, and beaten by police. Many protestors are in hospital, including one young man who was shot in the throat with a plastic bullet.

The office of CMAQ, a coalition of independent news media was teargassed and had rubber bullets fired up their stairwell by riot police. The medical center for the protest was also teargassed and shut down at gun point. Medics and patients forced down the stairs and made to walk down the road in single file. Some were beaten. Medical supplies were taken by police.

At last count, 430 people had been confirmed arrested, many in the early hours of yesterday morning. Most were charged with minor offences such as criminal mischief and "being suspect" - a charge that doesn't appear to be a legal offence. Also arrested was protest organiser Jaggi Singh, who has
not been charged but will be held in jail until Wednesday. In an arrest that more closely resembled a kidnapping, Jaggi was attacked and beaten by undercover police officers when he was walking down the street in Quebec. When bystanders attempted to intervene, the officers pulled out batons and announced they were police. Jaggi was thrown into an unmarked van, and it was several hours before friends and organisers were able to track him down in a Quebec jail. Other organisers have also been arrested, harassed and had their houses broken into by police.

The Canadian government is attempting to prevent these people from exercising their human rights of freedom of speech, and association, and of freedom from arbitrary arrest and assault by police. These human rights abuses are aimed at ensuring that 33 heads of state can meet in secret to discuss a free trade deal that would open all of North and South America to unrestricted trade and investment.

We are in Solidarity with the protesters in Quebec, and support them in their message of putting people before profit. We also support them in their right to protest.

An important principle is at stake here, that everyone, everywhere, has inalienable human rights and that these have been violated.

The actions of your police force are damaging Canada’s reputation around the world. Please relay our deep concern to your government.

Radical Society of Aotearoa

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