HOMES NOT BOMBS
Because Canada should build homes, not blow them up
PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
(416) 651-5800, (613) 237-0730 ext. 1, firstname.lastname@example.org
Windsor: (519) 258-1555, Montreal, (514) 521-5252, Hamilton (905) 627-2696
To CANSEC Organizers
338 Somerset St. West, #4
March 12, 2003
As the world awaits the horrible prospect of yet another military slaughter against the people of Iraq, many in Canada would be shocked to learn that a major weapons fair is taking place mere blocks from Parliament Hill.
Some would be appalled to learn of the intrusive surveillance technology which is on display for the likes of the RCMP and CSIS, while others are shocked that the insidious technology of border control, forcing further misery on the lives of refugees, is for promotion and sale at CANSEC.
That such things are part of daily life is, we suppose, part of the much touted "death of irony."
However, we are not writing to discuss the nature of irony. Rather, ours is a letter about personal and legal responsibility; its themes deal with such weighted topics as mass murder, genocide, the targetting of specific groups of civilians for outrageous treatment, from enslavement and deportation to carpet bombing with the most unthinkable weapons ever devised.
We are writing to inform you of our intent to seek unfettered access to the weapons fair to investigate and take legal action with respect to the fact that companies which are exhibiting are involved in the production and supply of materiel which is being used to commit war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity.
Further, it is clear that some of the technology on display is used to assist "security" agencies in the commission of civil rights violations against numerous communities in Canada, including but not limited to those of the Muslim and Sikh faiths, those of Arabic, Middle Eastern and Persian heritage, and First Nations who continue trying to assert their just claims for land rights against the most serious of odds.
Those conducting this inspection are trained in nonviolence, and are impelled both by an understanding of their legal obligations and the moral imperative that we must stop the commission of murder at any stage in the planning process (CANSEC certainly qualifies in the aid and abet category of planning for mass murder and repression.)
Members of the Children's Art for Peace Project also plan to enter the weapons exhibition, and ask questions of their own. This is appropriate given that the majority of victims of war are now young children--those killed directly by the bombs made by CANSEC's exhibitors, and those who die needlessly because of the weapons lobby which ensures that government funds are directed to the military and not to housing, child care, and basic medical care.
We would hope that the weapons dealers would have the courage to look into the youngsters' eyes and explain why they feel it is appropriate--much less legal or moral--to be engaged in the manufacture, promotion, and sale of weapons which have only one purpose if used correctly: mass murder.
We also wish to inform you of related acts of nonviolence resistance which will be occurring at the CANSEC site. Although we are opposed to your exhibition of "one stop shopping across the entire warfare spectrum," you should know that those protesting have been committed to nonviolence both in word and in deed. It will be an example which we hope can rub off on those more inclined to the use of violence to resolve conflicts.
The fact that our actions may disrupt business as usual at CANSEC--and we certainly hope they do--is fully within the duties and obligations we have as citizens of Canada and of the global community. From the Nuremberg Principles to the Canadian War Crimes Act, there is a clear command to those of us who see governments and corporate entities preparing for wars of aggression and crimes against peace: interfere with such crimes, or be complicit in them.
This letter is written with an added urgency as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and a few other countries actively plot further crimes against the people of Iraq. As you may be aware, much of the weaponry produced by companies at your exhibition&endash;&endash;including Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, Diemaco and Wescam, Honeywell and General Dynamics, and CAE and MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd., among many others--are supplied to NATO militaries as well as the Pentagon. The abovementioned military organizations have been complicit in horrific crimes over the past decade against the people of Iraq, Kosovo(a), Afghanistan, and Sudan.
In perhaps the best known example of a premeditated war crime, Pentagon documents, recently declassified, clearly indicate that so-called "coalition" bombers supplied by many of the firms at CANSEC, targetted Iraq's civilian infrastructure--the water treatment facilities, the electrical grid, the hospitals and housing complexes of cities such as Baghdad and Basra--in the slaughter called the first Gulf War.
Further crimes have been catalogued under the name of sanctions against the people of Iraq; the technology on display at CANSEC has played a role in this crime which has killed more than 1 million Iraqis.
Under the much-publicized "shock and awe" strategy which is planned for an impending escalation, literally every legal instrument which has been designed to prevent untold suffering of civilians and retreating soldiers will be violated, leaving all those who make the orders, commit these acts, as well as those who supply the weapons for these crimes, subject to prosecution at a war crimes court.
We believe you should know that technically, under the Canadian War Crimes Act, the CANSEC exhibition is an illegal gathering, both by the nature of its visitors and by the nature of the products produced by exhibiting companies.
It is no exaggeration to say that many of the companies at CANSEC represent the same immorality and illegality as the German conglomerate I.G. Farben, which supplied the notorious Zyklon B for use in the crematoria.
On April 10, the organizers and exhibitors at CANSEC will face a moral and legal choice: to carry on in flagrant violation of the human norms of decency and the legal instruments which are in place to prevent mass crimes, or to undergo a change in heart, a change of life, and to begin the work of peaceful, economic conversion to the type of world where we no longer wage wars to solve conflicts or to fatten corporate bottom lines and inspire "market corrections."
We are here to dialogue with you. However, if you refuse dialogue as a means of ending CANSEC, we will be impelled to physically interfere with the operation of the exhibition. Just as Martin Luther King called for ever more escalating forms of nonviolent civil resistance to bring opponents of desegregation to the table of negotiation, we too are more than prepared to put our bodies on the line to prevent CANSEC from proceeding.
The notorious ARMX weapons fair was eventually forced to leave Ottawa because of public resistance. CANSEC, which we may call Son of ARMX, will hopefully face a similar fate. The only real question is whether CANSEC's exit will result in bitterness, or arise from a true understanding of why this exhibition, and the industries it represents, must undergo an immediate transformation to stop the spread of injustice and war.
We hope you will work with us to choose the latter path. Regardless, though, our ultimate obligation is to respond to those faces of the victims of war, whose eyes silently ask us the most pressing question of our time: what will YOU do to prevent the masters of war from ending my life, and the lives of those I love and who love me?
Sincerely, in peace
Homes not Bombs
BACK TO HOMEPAGE