Posts Tagged ‘war criminal’

They banned the wrong George

March 27, 2009

Erik Wallenberg wonders about the mix-up in Canada where the government allowed in a known war criminal, but kept out a leading opponent of war.

George Galloway speaking at a 2008 protest of George W. Bush's visit to London (Davide Simonetti)

George Galloway speaking at a 2008 protest of George W. Bush’s visit to London (Davide Simonetti)

IT SEEMS that the Canadian government, and the immigration ministry in particular, has gotten their Georges confused. Though how you could confuse a bumbling idiot with a Texas drawl for an erudite Scotsman with an oratory of the first degree, is hard to imagine.

George W. Bush was granted safe passage to Calgary earlier this month for a speaking engagement that netted him some $400-a-plate to talk about his eight years in the White House–God only knows what anyone would want to hear him talk about. Meanwhile, George Galloway was branded an “infandous street-corner Cromwell” by Alykhan Velshi, spokesperson for Canada’s immigration minister Jason Kenney, and refused entry into the country.

I guess it should be obvious that the Canadian government, headed by Bush wanna-be Stephen Harper, would make room for a war criminal of the highest order and have nothing but contempt for a “street-corner” politician who actually represents the beliefs of those who elected him, not to mention the majority of Canadians who want Canadian involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan to end (and who protested Bush’s fist speaking engagement and trip outside the U.S. since leaving office).

What you can do

You can sign an online petition calling on the Canadian government to allow George Galloway to speak.

Also, the Center for Research on Globalization is circulating a statement against Galloway’s banning that it is asking organizations to endorse and promote.

Galloway was asked to travel to Canada to speak about the war in Afghanistan. Certainly the Canadian government would rather not have him there speaking against an occupation that Canadian troops are carrying out. But the official reason for his being barred from entering the country is his unabashed support for Palestinians’ right to resist occupation in any way they see fit–namely by giving aid to Hamas for the people of Palestine.

In fact, Galloway, when questioned on this, said, “We can only come to the aid of the Palestinian people and give that aid to the democratically elected government. This is something that will not change, no matter how many governments around the world in however many conflicts try to choose other peoples’ representatives.”

Galloway, who traveled to Gaza recently with the Viva Palestina convey, brought aid and international attention to the Israeli siege that has laid waste to the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, should have gone the way of Bush long ago, but maintains a hold of power by undemocratic parliamentary maneuvers.

It is truly an upside down world when a government can allow a war criminal like George W. Bush–who more than any other single figure in the world has been directly responsible for the deaths and displacement of literally millions of people–to enter the country to rake in more cash and tell more lies, while keeping out George Galloway, who has devoted his life to organizing relief and humanitarian aid, telling the truth and speaking up for ordinary people.

It’s time to turn this world right side up and decide–as George Galloway has–that “this is not something I’m prepared to accept.”

Rage on the streets in Calgary as Bush visit begins

March 18, 2009

by Bill Graveland and Shannon Montgomery | Daily Herald-Tribune, Alberta, March 17, 2009

CALGARY – The rage on the man’s face was evident as he berated police officers preventing him from entering the building where former U.S. president George W. Bush was making a speech Tuesday.

[A woman holds a protest sign outside the Calgary convention centre where former U.S. President George Bush was making a speech to the business community in Calgary, Alberta March 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)]A woman holds a protest sign outside the Calgary convention centre where former U.S. President George Bush was making a speech to the business community in Calgary, Alberta March 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

‘‘There is a war criminal upstairs that has committed murder,” screamed the man, who identified himself only as Splits the Sky. ‘‘If I try to get in there you will arrest me. What is wrong with you?‘‘I am going in there and make a citizen’s arrest,” he said as he attempt to push past police. ‘‘Arrest George Bush. Arrest George Bush.”

A few minutes later he was handcuffed and hustled past a long line of Calgary’s business elite waiting to get inside the Telus Convention Centre.

Protest organizers say at least four demonstrators were arrested at Tuesday’s event.

About 60 Calgary police officers were on duty outside to control between 200 and 300 people carrying signs that read ‘‘No to U.S. Crimes Against Humanity,” ‘‘Indict Bush For War Crimes” and ‘‘Canada Is Not Bush Country.”

Another sign read ‘‘Shoe Him The Door” – a reference to the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoe at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad in December.

Two Calgary men showed up at the demonstration to support the former U.S. president. Their signs read ‘‘The World Is Safer Because of George W. Bush.”

‘‘Thank you, George Bush. Thank you, George Bush,” they chanted.

‘‘He doesn’t sit down and negotiate with terrorists,” shouted one of the men, who identified himself as Merle.

‘‘Try doing this in Cuba,” he said as he pointed to the jeering protesters.

There were shoes everywhere during the protest. A young woman wearing a hood, orange jumpsuit and a name tag that said ‘‘Club Gitmo” was pulling a shoe cannon along with a target festooned with pictures of Bush.

An obviously amused police officer told her to leave.

Some of those opposed to Bush’s visit have said he should be arrested as a war criminal because of alleged torture at military prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

Tuesday’s speech was one of the first public appearances Bush has made since leaving the presidency in January with a dismal approval rating and much of the blame for his country’s collapsing economy. The speech was closed to the media.

‘‘It’s not too late to turn back. Walk away,” the demonstrators yelled to some of the 1,500 guests invited to hear Bush speak to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

A couple of hundred people lined up early to go through a special security screening room before entering the hall where Bush was speaking.

A few said the former president has to take some of the responsibility for what has happened in the United States, but also has the right to talk about his administration.

Thousands Demand Release of Iraqi Journalist Who Threw Shoes at George W Bush

December 16, 2008

The Telegraph, UK, Dec 15, 2008

Thousands of Iraqis have taken to the streets to demand the release of a reporter who threw his shoes at President George Bush.

Arabs across the Middle East hailed the journalist a hero and praised his insult as a proper send-off to the unpopular U.S. president.

'This is a farewell kiss, you dog, this is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.' (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)]A shoe is raised during a protest against the visit to Iraq of US President George W. Bush, in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday. Dec. 15, 2008. Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday, while yelling in Arabic: ‘This is a farewell kiss, you dog, this is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.’ (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who was kidnapped by Shiite militants last year, was being held by Iraqi security today and interrogated about whether anybody paid him to protest during the press conference.He was also being tested for alcohol and drugs, and his shoes were being held as evidence.

Showing the sole of your shoe to someone in the Arab world is a sign of extreme disrespect, and throwing your shoes is even worse.

In Baghdad’s Shiite slum of Sadr City, thousands of supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burned American flags to protest against Bush and called for the release of al-Zeidi.

“Bush, Bush, listen well – Two shoes on your head,” the protesters chanted in unison.

Newspapers across the Arab world printed front-page photos of Bush ducking the flying shoes and satellite TV stations repeatedly aired the incident, which provided fodder for jokes and was hailed by the president’s many critics in the region.

“Iraq considers Sunday as the international day for shoes,” said a text message circulating around the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Many users of the popular internet networking site Facebook posted the video of the incident to their profile pages, showing al-Zeidi leap from his chair as Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were about to shake hands.

“This is a farewell kiss, you dog,” al-Zeidi yelled in Arabic as he threw his shoes. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.”

Al-Zeidi was immediately wrestled to the ground by Iraqi security guards. The incident raised fears of a security lapse in the heavily guarded Green Zone where the press conference took place. Reporters were repeatedly searched and asked to show identification before entering and while inside the compound, which houses al-Maliki’s office and the U S Embassy.

Al-Zeid’s tirade was echoed by Arabs across the Middle East who are fed up with U.S. policy in the region and still angry over Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.

Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the influential London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, wrote on the newspaper’s website that the incident was “a proper goodbye for a war criminal.”

The response to the incident by Arabs in the street was ecstatic.

“Al-Zeidi is the man,” said 42-year-old Jordanian businessman Samer Tabalat. “He did what Arab leaders failed to do.”

Ghazi Abu Baker, a 55-year-old shopkeeper in the West Bank town of Jenin said, “This journalist should be elected president of Iraq for what he has done.”

Hoping to capitalise on this sentiment, al-Zeidi’s TV station, Al-Baghdadia, repeatedly aired pleas to release the reporter Monday, while showing footage of explosions and playing background music that denounced the US in Iraq.

“We have all been mobilised to work on releasing him, and all the organisations around the world are with us,” said Abdel-Hameed al-Sayeh, the manager of Al-Baghdadia in Cairo, where the station is based.

Al-Jazeera television interviewed Saddam’s former chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, who offered to defend al-Zeidi, calling him a “hero.”

In Najaf, a Shiite holy city, some protesters threw their shoes at an American patrol as it passed by. Witnesses said the American troops did not respond to the protesters and continued on their patrol.

Al-Zeidi, who is in his late 20s, was kidnapped by Shiite militias on Nov. 16, 2007, and released three days later. His station said no ransom was paid and refused to discuss the case.

Violence in Iraq has declined significantly over the past year, but daily attacks continue to occur. The truck bomb that killed five police officers Monday also wounded 13 others, said Iraqi police.

Hours earlier north of Baghdad, a female suicide bomber knocked on the front door of the home of the leader of a local volunteer Sunni militia and blew herself up, killing him, said Iraqi police.

The police officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the press.

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