July 11, 2015 - No. 28

Anti-Human Rights Agenda

Canada's Weapon to Oppose and Humiliate Countries that Choose an Independent Path

Lip Service to Human Rights, Devoted Service to Monopoly Right
- George Allen -

UN Human Rights Committee Questions Canada's Record
Canada Must Set Right Its Relations with Indigenous Peoples
- Pamela Palmater -

Harper Government Persists in Its Unfounded and
Provocative Attacks Against the Vietnamese People

- Louis Lang -

U.S. Human Rights Record in 2014

70th Anniversary of UN Charter
The Need to Reform and Renew the United Nations
- Dougal MacDonald -

Peace and Justice in East Asia
65th Anniversary of the Start of Korean War
The U.S. Must Be Held Accountable for Korean War
- Philip Fernandez
East Asian Peoples Stand Up Against
Japanese Militarism and for Peace

Growing Movement for Anti-War Government in Japan
Japanese Prime Minister Confronted in Okinawa
Broad Opposition to Japan's Militarist Legislation

Anti-Human Rights Agenda

Canada's Weapon to Oppose and Humiliate Countries that Choose an Independent Path

Rights belong to us by virtue of our being human. Human rights, not property rights and privileges, must be provided with a guarantee. The question of human rights in Canada and providing them with a guarantee is amongst the foremost concerns of its citizens and residents. This is all the more so when governments at all levels claim rights do not exist or can be arbitrarily violated in the name of high ideals such as preserving Canada's economic security or protection against alleged terrorist threats.

Canada is presently undergoing a review of its sixth periodic report to the UN Human Rights Committee on its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee is an 18-member body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the ICCPR by its state parties. (It is distinct from the 47-member country UN Human Rights Council which deals with human rights issues in general.) The Committee's website states: "All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Covenant and then whenever the Committee requests (usually every four years). The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of 'concluding observations.'"

Canada's sixth periodic report covers the period of 2005-2009 and was submitted on April 9, 2013. The fifth periodic report was submitted in October 2004 and reviewed by the Committee in 2006.

Thus far, the Committee's review has raised serious issues about Canada's lack of compliance with the ICCPR. Canada has refused to seriously address the questions put to it by the Committee about protection of rights in Canada, as well as abroad where it blithely says it has no responsibility for the destruction wreaked around the world by Canadian mining monopolies. This contradicts the public image promoted by the state that Canada is an unassailable defender of human rights at home, and thus occupies the moral high ground to criticize others about issues of human rights and call for them to adopt so-called Canadian values which it claims to be universal.

In other words, Canada's claim to being a defender of human rights is utterly cynical. It uses one of the most important questions facing humanity as a weapon to humiliate countries that choose an independent path. This is especially true for the countries which are building socialism which is the condition that guarantees people's rights. Defence of human rights is also the justification for the war on Libya, aggression against Syria and Iran, as well as the coups and attempted coups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

The concepts of rights and so-called universal values promoted by Canada originate with the U.S. imperialists, specifically the 1991 "Paris Charter." The essence of the Paris Charter is to declare any country which does not have a market economy, human rights and elections of a kind which suit the U.S. and the big powers of old Europe a pariah state that requires regime change. It is this Cold War definition of human rights that Canada and other countries that are part of the U.S./EU imperialist system of states use to berate other countries.

The U.S. imperialists and big European powers consider themselves the centre of the universe and that their imperialist and monopoly interests and values are universal, and thus should be accepted by the peoples of the world for their own good. Therefore any other country that sets its own course outside the U.S./EU imperialist system of states is considered a threat to its aim of hegemony and world domination. It is on this spurious basis that countries that oppose U.S./EU agenda are attacked for bogus human rights violations.

Every human being is born to society and hence has claims upon society. The main demand at the present time is for society to guarantee the rights which emanate from this fact that individuals are born to society and that they depend on society for their well-being and the well-being of future generations. If the society is to be known as a human society, it has to satisfy all those demands which make being human possible. Governments must be made to reckon with the fact that they are duty-bound to guarantee the rights which belong to all members of society by virtue of their being.

Canada's poor standing on human rights and its unbridled propaganda which seeks to denigrate and isolate other countries for purposes of justifying what cannot be justified shows the need for new arrangements in the society. People must be able to exercise their right to be decision-makers in all matters that affect their lives. Canadians must take up the work for political renewal to bring an end to their political disempowerment and affirm human rights at home and abroad on a principled basis.

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Lip Service to Human Rights, Devoted Service
to Monopoly Right

The fact that the Canadian state violates human rights abroad is no surprise, since it also systematically violates the rights of people at home. State security forces violated the rights of the G20 demonstrators in Toronto by violently attacking them. The rights of foreign workers and refugees are violated as a matter of course. The rights of postal workers, Air Canada workers, and the Canadian Pacific workers were violated when they were barred from striking in 2011 and 2012 by government legislation and threats. The hereditary, treaty, and human rights of the First Nations people have been violated again and again, including at Oka, Gustafson Lake, Ipperwash, Caledonia, Attawapiskat and Elsipogtog.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee, made up of 18 independent experts, is now in Geneva examining Canada's record with regard to how well it is upholding international human rights. Ten years have passed since the Committee last examined Canada's international record. Five of the most prominent issues being raised are the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 (Bill C-51), missing and murdered Aboriginal women, Indigenous rights, the international practices of Canadian mining companies and redress for Omar Khadr.

The Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015, that clearly violates human rights on a number of fronts, was passed by the Canadian Senate on June 9, in the face of broad opposition across the country and from numerous witnesses at the House Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Over 240,000 Canadians have signed the petition against the bill at StopC51.ca. The main feature of the legislation is that it authorizes black ops against the peoples of Canada and other countries which is tantamount to state terrorism. These black ops include ongoing targeting of protestors, political activists and those who oppose the status quo by the government and the state security agencies RCMP and CSIS. The legislation permits the sharing of information between departments and with counterparts in other countries, and the accessing of private information; stalking and harassment; and "disruption" of activities. All these blatant violations of human rights are being "justified" by the Harperites under the hoax of fighting terrorism when the real aim is to undermine people's resistance to monopoly right by any means necessary.

On March 6, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women released a report stating that Canada had violated the rights of Indigenous women by failing to thoroughly investigate why they are targeted for violence. The Committee report said police and the justice system have failed to effectively protect Aboriginal women and that Indigenous women face grave and systematic violations of their rights. A similar statement had already been made in a report released January 2015 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The United Nations has now joined a growing chorus of voices calling for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women which the Harper government continues to oppose. Prominent among the voices calling for an inquiry are numerous Aboriginal groups and individuals, including the Native Women's Association of Canada and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

A related issue shows the consistency of the Harperites' stubborn opposition to Indigenous rights. A special UN General Assembly meeting of more than 1,000 delegates and heads of state took place at the first-ever World Conference on Indigenous Peoples on September 22 and 23, 2014 in New York. At the conference, the Harper government distinguished itself by making Canada the only country in the world to raise objections over a landmark consensus document that re-establishes the protection of the rights of Indigenous people. The objections were "justified" on the lie that the document gives Aboriginal people "a veto." This is an ill-concealed reference to various domestic and international private mining and energy projects currently stalled due to opposition from Indigenous groups. The vote at the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples was the first of its kind since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the historic 2007 Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Canada was one of only four countries to vote against the 2007 Declaration (it later endorsed it in 2010).

Violations of rights by Canadian mining companies in other countries are another central issue at the human rights hearings. Canadian mining monopolies are notorious the world over for their pillaging of natural resources and abuse of those who live in the areas exploited. The following are three specific examples:

- On May 24, 2013 the Chilean government fined Toronto-based mining firm Barrick Gold $16.4 million for breaching its environmental commitments, and ordered the suspension of the $5 billion open-pit Pascua Lama project in the Andes Mountains.

- On June 3, 2013, the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project submitted a complaint to the Ontario Securities Commission regarding Vancouver-founded Tahoe Resources' poor disclosure about violence in connection with the company's only mine project in southeast Guatemala, after security personnel shot and wounded six people gathered outside of the Escobal mine site.

- Documents released from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in response to a request under the Access to Information Act reveal that Canadian authorities put public resources at the service of Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration despite its connections to suspects in the 2009 murder of a local activist at one of its Mexican mines and widely reported allegations of corruption.

The Harper government continues to harass former child soldier Omar Khadr, routinely violating his rights. Khadr is the only U.S. captive ever tried for murder in the death of a soldier fighting in the illegal U.S. invasions and wars against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. He is the first juvenile prosecuted for war crimes in modern history, in violation of numerous international agreements and principles. On October 23, 2014, Justice Richard Mosley approved Khadr's Amended Statement of Claim, allowing Khadr to proceed with his lawsuit against the Canadian government for conspiring with the U.S. government to torture him and breach his rights while he was in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The court also awarded costs to Khadr as a clear rebuke to the Harper government. In an earlier judgement on July 8, 2014, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that Khadr must be transferred to a provincial jail as he is serving a youth sentence, overturning the trial judge's decision to deny Khadr's writ of habeas corpus. On May 8, 2015, Khadr was released from jail on bail after serving 13 years behind bars, against the futile objections of the Harper government.

The Government of Canada must stop declaring that the violation of rights at home and international law abroad makes Canadians safer. Its duty is to defend the rights of all. Rights belong to the holder by virtue of being human and cannot be taken away for any reason. Those who trample them underfoot attack the very being of the targeted individuals and organizations and thus the very being of society itself.

For the full text of the ICCPR, click here.

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UN Human Rights Committee Questions
Canada's Record

On July 6 and 7, the UN Human Rights Committee addressed the human rights situation in Canada. The review of Canada's sixth periodic report took place during the UN Human Rights Committee's 114th session, which opened in Geneva on June 29. The Committee discussed the 24 questions previously posed to Canada regarding its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and allowed interveners to present their views.

The 24 questions include how the Canadian government monitors the human rights conduct of Canadian resource companies operating abroad. According to news reports and documents from the session, the UN Committee asked for clarification as to why the Canadian government contends that international treaties on human rights to which Canada is a signatory do not apply to violations by Canadian resources companies operating abroad, some of which are facing lawsuits alleging abuse.

Question 4 under the section "Right to an Effective Remedy (Art. 2)" reads, "Please inform the Committee of any measures taken or envisaged to monitor the human rights conduct of Canadian oil, mining, and gas companies operating abroad. Please also inform what the available legal venues are in the State party for victims of human rights abuses arising from overseas operations of Canadian extractive firms."

In response, the official Canadian delegation evoked what it called "the principle of extra-territoriality" for the actions of the 800 Canadian companies operating in Latin America, Africa and Asia. According to the Canadian delegation, the UN Covenant applies to Canadians and their companies in Canada, but does not apply to their operations in foreign countries.

The Canadian delegation suggested that violations of human rights by Canadian companies abroad are not subject to Canada's adherence to any UN Human Rights agreement. "Individuals affected by the operation of Canadian companies abroad were thus not necessarily under Canadian jurisdiction," said the representative for the Canadian government, dismissing any responsibility for human rights abuse outside Canada.

A member of the UN Human Rights Committee replied to this stance, "A country could not just provide corporate identity to a company and then be unperturbed by whatever the company could do around the world."

The head of the UN Committee noted in his closing remarks, "The final arbiter for interpreting the Covenant was the Committee, not individual States."

The Canadian government with its "principle of extra-territoriality" not only seeks to defend and absolve itself of responsibility for human rights abuses by Canadian companies abroad but also abuses committed by the Canadian state and its institutions, in particular the military and its spy agency CSIS.

Amongst its 24 questions the UN Human Rights Committee specifically asked Canada to address allegations that it has taken punitive measures to limit the freedom of expression of "civil society organizations and human rights defenders that promote women's equality, the rights of Palestinians, and environmental protection and corporate social responsibility."

The government refused to speak to this question.

The Committee asked Canada to "provide information on the measures taken to ensure that all allegations of ill-treatment and excessive use of force by the police are impartially investigated by an independent body, including those related to the police use of force during the student protests in Quebec in 2012."

Use of force by police against youth, Victoriaville, Quebec, May 4, 2012.

The Canadian government spokesperson at the session did not address this concern. An earlier written response reiterates provisions under the Quebec Police Act for filing complaints of abuse. It states dryly, "The Ethics Commissioner has received 228 complaints to date concerning police interventions during or relating to the student demonstrations in 2012."

The Committee also questioned the actions of Canada in deporting a Somali citizen who faced persecution upon return and a Jamaican who was exposed to police brutality after deportation.

"Despite recommendations to the contrary, information was allowed to be shared with a foreign country in security matters even if that would lead to torture," the Committee stated.

The Canadian delegation did not respond.

The government also came under fire for not providing health care to refugees. In response, the government said it believed this policy and its new Citizenship Act are in compliance with Canada's own Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that should satisfy the Committee.

Civil Society Interveners Criticize Canada's Human Rights Record

Shelagh Day of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, in speaking to the Committee, targeted specifically the government's response, which some characterize as racist, to the large number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and to other abuse involving First Nations.

Day said, "The comments of Canada regarding missing and murdered Aboriginal women and Canada's relationship with Aboriginal peoples ring hollow. Canada is not engaged in a candid dialogue with the UN Human Rights Committee about its human rights performance, but in self-promotion."

Others addressing the Committee pointed out that the federal government has repeatedly rejected calls for a federal inquiry into violence against Indigenous women, saying simply in a detached way that it supports provincial efforts.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission told the Committee that the plight of Canada's Aboriginal Peoples is one of the country's most urgent civil rights issues facing Canada today. It said that Indigenous peoples "continue to be significantly disadvantaged in terms of education, employment and access to basic needs such as water, food and housing. Indigenous women, in particular, bear a disproportionate burden of violence."

The Canadian ecumenical social justice organization Kairos asked the Committee to "recommend changes in [government] policies and practices that would require Canada to take seriously its responsibilities to Indigenous peoples."

Other interveners addressed the recent passage of Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015. This law will result in broad violations of human rights, they told the Committee. Amnesty International called on the Committee to recommend that the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 be repealed. Amnesty International noted that the government still has not responded to the Committee's 2005 recommendation for redress for three Canadian citizens -- Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin -- "who have experienced torture in prisons abroad with the involvement of Canadian officials in their arrest in Syria and in the case of El-Maati also in Egypt." Further, it asked the Committee to urge similar redress for Omar Khadr after the Supreme Court of Canada's finding that Canadian officials violated his rights while he was in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Sukanya Pillay, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in speaking to the media before the Committee session began said, "This is an important process for Canada to either demonstrate or explain on the world stage, and before an expert body, its record on human rights pursuant to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are there to ensure the body questioning Canada, the Human Rights Committee, knows of our many concerns regarding civil liberties in Canada, including Bill C-51, equality rights, aboriginal persons, police and conducted energy weapons, as well as the treatment of refugees."

Pillay told the Committee, "Whenever human rights have been violated, it threatens peace and security. Things like fundamental justice, due process, equality, all of these things have been on really shaky ground in Canada in recent years."

Dr. Pamela D. Palmater, a Mi'kmaq lawyer and head of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University delivered a powerful speech, extensively detailing state-organized human rights abuses in Canada. Dr. Palmater's presentation and six recommendations which she urged the Committee to consider are reprinted below.

The UN Human Rights Committee completed its consideration of Canada's sixth periodic report on July 8 and has scheduled a news conference for July 23 at 1:30 pm at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, after which the Committee will publish its concluding observations here.

TML Weekly Information Project will report on the findings of the Committee when they are released.

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Canada Must Set Right Its Relations
with Indigenous Peoples

Statement of Pamela Palmater to the 114th Human Rights Committee Session: Formal Briefing on Canada, July 6, 2015 Geneva, Switzerland.


Kwe, n'in teluisi Pam Palmater. I am from the sovereign Indigenous Nation of the Mi'kmaq in Mi'kma'ki, Canada. I am here as an impacted Indigenous individual thanks to the support of Franciscans International. Today I would like to testify to three urgent situations related to Canada's obligations under the Covenant which are also raised in the joint submission presented by the NGO Mining Working Group in response to the List of Issues which I fully support:

First, the criminalization of Indigenous peoples in Canada for our human rights advocacy and defense of our lands.

Federal and provincial laws and regulations have criminalized Indigenous peoples' traditional occupations and trade economies by making it illegal to hunt, fish, gather or use our natural resources within our traditional, treaty, title, trapping or reserve lands. Engaging in Indigenous rights advocacy or defense of the environment to protect the health of our lands, waters, plants, animals and people also results in our public vilification, beatings, arrests, imprisonment, and/or deaths.

The incarceration rate for Indigenous peoples is 10 times higher than the national average. Since 2000, the Indigenous inmate population has increased by over 56 per cent and in some prisons, represent as much as 65 per cent of the inmate population. The government's own studies have consistently concluded that it is the result of racism in Canada's justice system.

The recently enacted Anti-Terrorism Act (C-51) threatens to treat peaceful Indigenous activists as potential terrorists. There are several examples in which Canada's Ministers, military, and RCMP have already labelled First Nations as "insurgents," "eco-terrorists" and "threats to national security." Given this context, we feel that we will be targeted under this law if we continue our traditional practices.

Two-Row wampum belt in May 30, 2015 demonstration against Bill C-51 in Ottawa represents the demand for nation-to-nation relations between Canada and Indigenous nations of this land.

Second, the Committee ought to emphasize the growing crisis of poverty and discriminatory treatment of Indigenous peoples.

Despite being less than four per cent of the population, Indigenous children make up nearly 50 per cent of all children in state care (90 per cent in Manitoba). Seventy-three per cent of all water systems in First Nations are at high risk -- for those that have running water. The majority of houses on reserve are in need of major repair and/or overcrowded (upwards of 25 people to a home). Indigenous peoples suffer higher rates of ill health, accidents, and injuries and have some of the highest suicide rates in the world. Indigenous women and girls are over-represented in those that are murdered or missing -- 16 per cent nationally, but as high as 55 per cent in provinces like Saskatchewan. Indigenous peoples have lower rates of education and employment and live 7-20 years less than Canadians.

As different UN mechanisms have consistently found, this crisis is particularly jarring in a wealthy and highly developed country like Canada -- especially since the majority of the wealth comes from Indigenous lands.The situation is aggravated by the Government's failure to protect Indigenous peoples' rights, to remedy harms, and to properly fund Indigenous institutions.

Third and finally, I emphasize Canada's failure to consult with Indigenous peoples regarding legislation and actions impacting Indigenous lands and waters.

Despite decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada directing Canada to consult, accommodate, and obtain the consent of Indigenous peoples, Canada has unilaterally limited debate and refused to consult with Indigenous peoples on legislation which impacts our inherent, Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Peaceful civil actions by Indigenous peoples to protect lands and waters from clearcutting, mining, hydro-fracking or pipelines are met with heavy RCMP intervention. State law enforcement is used to protect state subsidized corporations to engage in the extraction of Indigenous lands, waters and resources without our consent, to our social and economic detriment, to the destruction of our lands and waters and in violation of our human rights.

Together with the NGO Mining Working Group, I urge the Committee to consider the following recommendations for Canada:

1. Repeal Bill C-51 Anti-Terrorism Act and all recent legislation unilaterally imposed on Indigenous peoples and start a comprehensive study and consultative process in partnership with Indigenous peoples;

2. Develop independent and more robust oversight, reporting, and redress mechanisms for Canada's national security activities, law enforcement, and surveillance of Indigenous peoples and other environmental and human rights defenders;

3. Take all measures necessary to ensure that all domestic and international extractive activities by Canadian corporations comply with human rights obligations, including obtaining the free, informed and prior consent of Indigenous peoples;

4. Provide adequate funding to Indigenous peoples to address the multiple, over-lapping crises in education, health, housing, food, water, infrastructure, flooding;

5. Take emergency action to address structural discrimination especially the over-representation of Indigenous children in care; murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls; and the over-incarceration of Indigenous peoples; and

6. Implement treaties, address outstanding claims of lands and resources; and develop a more equitable revenue sharing structure in partnership with Indigenous peoples.

Note: The Committee only allows three minutes to present. Therefore, all presenters had to pick only two or three core issues to discuss. I could not read the entirety of even this small submission, so I hit the highlights of the issue and read the recommendations. Sharon McIvor was there to make a submission on two issues: murdered and missing Indigenous women and sex discrimination against Indigenous women and their descendants in the Indian Act registration provisions. Art Manuel presented on self-determination and Canada's failures in this regard. Amnesty International spoke on a variety of issues, one of which was Bill C-51 and recommending its repeal.

Dr. Pamela D. Palmater is a Mi'kmaq lawyer and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. She teaches Indigenous law, politics and governance at Ryerson University and heads their Centre for Indigenous Governance.

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Harper Government Persists in Its Unfounded and Provocative Attacks Against the Vietnamese People

The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development issued a statement on June 17, 2015, concerning the "human rights situation in Vietnam." The statement followed hearings on human rights in Vietnam in which the Subcommittee heard submissions from selected anti-communist members of the Vietnamese community in Canada.

It is clear from the statement and the list of organizations invited to testify that the Subcommittee undertook this "study" with the preconceived notion that the "Government of Vietnam was responsible for violation of human rights," and gathered "evidence" to support their theory. No representative of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was invited to participate in the hearings. The Subcommittee also made no attempt to gather representative views from the Vietnamese community in Canada on this important issue.

According to the Subcommittee's statement, "evidence" had been received about "Physical attacks against bloggers, journalists, human rights defenders and political activists, leaders and members of unregistered religious congregations, as well as the arbitrary detention and disproportionate sentences such persons may receive for exercising their democratic rights."

The statement concluded by calling on the "the Government of Vietnam that it is responsible for upholding the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons in Vietnam, including its obligations as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

The statement is a continuation of the rabid anti-communism of the Harper Conservatives and their attempt to distort the history of the courageous struggle of the Vietnamese people for their independence from foreign domination and another unfounded and provocative attack against the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Earlier this year Conservative Senator Thanh Hai Ngo introduced Bill S-219 in the Senate as the Black April Day Act to mark the occasion of the Vietnamese people's glorious defeat of the U.S. imperialists and their allies. In the face of opposition to his outrageous bill, Senator Ngo changed its name to the Journey to Freedom Act.

UN Human Rights Council Approves Vietnam's Human Rights Record

Victory monument in Da Nang celebrates historic struggle of the Vietnamese people.

In contrast to the anachronistic Cold war anti-communist mania of the Harper government and its Subcommittee, the achievements of Vietnam in the field of human rights are widely recognized internationally.

In November 2013, Vietnam was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for a two-year term with 184 votes out of a possible 193, which is one of the highest votes received by countries elected to the 47-member council.

From January 27 to February 7, 2014, Vietnam's human rights report was submitted and approved at the 18th Session of the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review working group.[1] The report highlighted some of the most important achievements in the recent period:

"The session took note of Viet Nam's achievements over the past years, particularly its socio-economic progress, poverty reduction, high rates of school attendance at primary and secondary levels, the national plans of actions for children in 2012-2020 as well as improvements in facilitation of vulnerable groups such as ethnic minorities, women and children. Participants also spoke highly of Viet Nam's signing of the Convention against Torture and participation in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities."

With its accusations against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the Harper government has exposed itself at home and internationally as a block to solving problems through diplomacy and dialogue. Instead it is resorting to extremism, spreading hatred and warmongering all over the world. The treatment of human rights by the Harper government and the Subcommittee on International Human Rights is offensive to the Vietnamese people and deserves to be rejected by all Canadians.

It is inconceivable that a discussion about human rights in Vietnam does not even recognize the heroic struggle waged by the Vietnamese people at great sacrifice, for their independence and their right to be, free from foreign domination.

During the 30-year period from 1945 to 1975, the Vietnamese people, under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam and its great leader Ho Chi Minh, successfully defeated three imperialist powers that occupied Vietnam.

In 1945 the Japanese imperial army was defeated and the Vietnamese people continued fighting against foreign domination culminating in the defeat of the French colonialists at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.

It was the total victory against U.S. imperialism on April 30, 1975 which made it possible for the Vietnamese people to control their own destiny. With the reunification of Vietnam in 1976 and the creation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the Vietnamese people established their own nation-building project based on their right to determine their own social system and policies.

The heroic tradition of the Vietnamese people to resist aggression and fight for freedom and basic human rights which is recognized worldwide is the greatest guarantee that these same rights are defended and enshrined in the Constitution of Vietnam.

Taking up the task of reunifying and rebuilding their country, the Vietnamese people led by their government have made great advances in building a stable and prosperous economy. The Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was developed based on the need to build and defend the country and to enshrine the rights and responsibilities of the people and state organizations "to achieve the goal of a prosperous people and a strong, democratic, equitable and civilized country."

Article 3 of the Constitution states: "The State shall guarantee and promote the People's right to mastery; recognize, respect, protect and guarantee human rights and citizens' rights; and pursue the goal of a prosperous people and a strong, democratic, equitable and civilized country, in which all people enjoy an abundant, free and happy life and are given conditions for their comprehensive development."

This shows that the main content of the extremist views being pushed by the Harper Conservatives is based on virulent anti-communism and the method is distortion and lies to impose their perverse views of history on Canadian society. In the name of "defending human rights" the Harper government persists in hypocritically fabricating accusations against Vietnam in order to interfere in the internal affairs of Vietnam, including the right of the people to pursue the nation-building project and the social system of their choosing. This is an insult to the history of the Vietnamese people and unacceptable to Canadians.


1. First established in 2006, the Universal Periodic Review is a cooperative mechanism used to assess each UN Member State's fulfillment of its human rights obligations and commitments. The review is based on information submitted by the State, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, and other UN human rights bodies.

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U.S. Human Rights Record in 2014

Posted below is an excerpt from the foreword of the report published June 26 by the State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China entitled, "Human Rights Record of the United States in 2014." To view the full report, click here.


On June 25 local time, the State Department of the United States released its country reports on human rights practices once again, making comments on the human rights situations in many countries while showing not a bit of regret for or intention to improve its own terrible human rights record. Plenty of facts show that, in 2014, the U.S., a self-proclaimed human rights defender, saw no improvements in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems. While its own human rights situation was increasingly grave, the U.S. violated human rights in other countries in a more brazen manner, and was given more "red cards" in the international human rights field.

The U.S. was haunted by spreading guns, frequent occurrence of violent crimes, which threatened citizens' civil rights. Statistics showed that the use of firearms in the U.S. was behind 69 percent of murders, while for robberies, the figure was 40 percent, and for aggravated assaults, 21.6 percent (edition.cnn.com). The excessive use of force by police officers led to many deaths, sparking public outcry. An unarmed 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown was shot dead by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, a town in Missouri. After the grand jury [...] decided to bring no charges against the white police officer, massive protests broke out in more than 170 cities nationwide (cn.nytimes.com, November 25, 2014).

The U.S. used cruel torture indiscriminately, notably those carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). To acquire intelligence from suspects of terrorism and extremism, the CIA used brutal methods, such as sleep deprivation, waterboarding, long-term solitary confinement, slamming prisoners against the wall, lashing, death threats and even "rectal rehydration" or rectal feeding. United Nations human rights convention institutions such as the UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee Against Torture had raised their concerns over issues in the U.S., including terrible detention conditions for convicts awaiting execution, abuse using brutal methods, secret detention, indefinite arbitrary detention, and illegal wire-tapping which infringed citizens' privacy. These institutions called on the U.S. to conduct swift, effective and fair investigations into all brutal behaviors and abuse of force of the police force (www.un.org).

The U.S. is a country where grim problems of racial discrimination, and institutional discrimination against ethnic minorities continued. Serious racial bias persisted in the police and justice systems. Minority groups and Indigenous people are subject to unfairness in environment, election, health care, housing, education and other fields. In August 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in its concluding observation on the periodic report of the U.S. on the latter's implementation of the relevant convention, slammed the U.S. for violating the rights of ethnic minorities, Indigenous people, immigrants and other minority groups. It criticized the fact that members of racial and ethnic minorities continued to be disproportionately arrested, incarcerated and subjected to harsher sentences (tbinternet.ohchr.org).

Money is a deciding factor in the U.S. politics, and the U.S. citizens' political rights were not properly protected. Despite the highest midterm election spending in history, general election voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest since World War II. "Dark money" flowed into elections, and the voting rights of racial minorities and other groups were intentionally suppressed. A few interest groups with power were able to influence the government's decision-making. As a renowned scholar pointed out sharply, the U.S. democratic system was experiencing a crisis of representation. "Ordinary citizens feel that their supposedly democratic government no longer truly reflects their interests and is under the control of a variety of shadowy elites (Foreign Affairs, September/October 2014)."

Although the U.S. is the most developed country in the world, it is hard for the economic and social rights of its citizens to be soundly ensured. In the process of economic recovery, the income inequality continued to be enlarged, the basic living conditions for the homeless people deteriorated, the health care system operated terribly and the education rights of average citizens were violated. In October 2014, the United Nations Special Rapporteurs criticized the unprecedented water shut-offs in Detroit disproportionately affected the most vulnerable and poorest people, violating their right of access to drinking water and other international human rights.

American women and children's rights were not fully protected. Women were discriminated against at workplaces, and domestic violence was prevalent. Each year, 2.1 million American women on average were assaulted by men. Three females were murdered by their partner each day, and four females died each day as a result of abuse. In the U.S. military, reports of female soldiers getting harassed were on the rise, and more faced repercussions for reporting assaults. Millions of American children were homeless. Three children died each day as a result of abuse. School violence and sex assaults were pervasive and gun shootings happened from time to time.

The National Security Agency and other intelligence-gathering apparatus of the U.S. for a long time have spied on world leaders and civilians. The U.S. has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.S. government often takes an evasive or uncooperative attitude toward the criticism of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of UN, the council's working groups and special rapporteurs. [...]

(Slightly edited for grammer by TML.)

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70th Anniversary of UN Charter

The Need to Reform and Renew the
United Nations

Event at the United Nations in New York marking the 70th anniversary |
of the signing of the UN Charter.

The Charter of the United Nations is the organization's foundational treaty. It was signed by 50 of the UN's original members in San Francisco on June 26, 1945, six weeks after Nazi Germany surrendered at the end of the Second World War. The Charter entered into force on October 24, 1945, the official date of the UN's formation, after being ratified by the original five permanent members of the Security Council -- the Republic of China (replaced by the People's Republic of China on October 25, 1971), France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States -- and a majority of the other signatories. All UN members are duty-bound to uphold the 111 articles of the UN Charter. Further, Article 103 of the UN Charter states that obligations to the United Nations prevail over all other treaty obligations.

The Preamble to the Charter states four main general aims:

- to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and

- to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and

- to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and

- to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.[1]

Article One of the Charter clearly states the United Nations' four main purposes:

- To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;

- To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;

- To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and

- To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.

Finally, the first four principles of the UN are clearly stated at the beginning of Article 2:

- The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.

- All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.

- All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

- All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

While stating in words their allegiance to the articles of the UN Charter, the U.S. imperialists and their allies take every opportunity to defy the Charter in deeds. They routinely violate national sovereignty, continuously humiliate or commit open aggression against other countries, and refuse to be held to account for their misdeeds which threaten all of humanity. This situation underscores the need to reform and renew the UN. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter, it is important to again stress the pressing need for the UN and its bodies to enshrine and uphold the equality and sovereignty of all nations and for all nations big and small to uphold the norms and laws of international relations so as to ensure international peace. This must be done not just by using empty words but in actual deeds.

One of the most critical needs is to reform the UN Security Council. Two fundamental principles of international relations are that all nations have equal standing and that the right to sovereignty of all nations must be upheld. These hard-won principles were paid for by the blood of millions in World War II and stand diametrically opposed to the imperialist dictate that "Might Makes Right." Upholding these principles is the duty of all nations to ensure that never again will the world be subject to a global war. The United Nations Charter espouses these principles but they are contradicted in practice by the anachronistic composition of the Security Council which is entrusted with the crucial issue of maintaining peace. Under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Security Council can take enforcement measures to "maintain or restore international peace and security," ranging from economic and/or other sanctions not involving the use of armed force to international military action.

Five big powers remain the permanent members of the UN Security Council: Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. This is not only totally unrepresentative of the majority of the 198 countries which make up the UN today but these big powers have a veto on all matters that come before the Security Council. Although "power of veto" is not explicitly mentioned in the Charter, Article 27 states that "substantive" decisions require "the concurring votes of the permanent members." The permanent members, of course, vote according to their own national interests, not the interests of the world's people which are sacrificed as a matter of course. Since 1972, the U.S. has used its veto power more than any other permanent member. The Security Council usurps the decision-making process, rendering the decisions of the General Assembly ineffective. The renewal of the Security Council arrangements is needed to make the UN democratic and effective as an instrument to maintain world peace and stop its use to justify the bullying and aggression of the U.S. and its NATO allies and partners, which is causing havoc in the world today.

The Harper dictatorship continues to take a very arrogant stand towards the UN Charter. Harper addressed the United Nations in 2010, a second time since 2006, then showed his contempt by refusing to do so again until 2014. Harper's 2014 speech spewed platitudes, then focused almost solely on financial commitments to child and maternal health in order to deliberately divert attention from other important global conflicts and crises. This again underscores that Canada is making no positive contributions on the major questions of war and peace and the vital need for UN reform, especially of the Security Council. In fact, Canada has given itself the role of champion of war and aggression to settle disputes between nations, all in the name of Canadian values and an approach to foreign policy which is actually based on no principle at all. There are many current examples of this, including continuing aggression in Afghanistan, unqualified support for Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people, bombing of Libya, bombing of Syria, demonizing of Iran, and now the training of Nazi troops in Ukraine. On November 21, 2014, the Harper dictatorship joined the United States and Ukraine as the only three countries to vote against the annual United Nations' anti-Nazi resolution, the third time Canada has voted against this resolution.

The Harper dictatorship has also shown again and again that it does not believe that UN principles and decisions apply at all to Harper's own policies within Canada. Harper has ignored recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council for a national investigation into missing and murdered Aboriginal women, not to mention international concerns from the UN Committee Against Torture about Canada's involvement in facilitating torture internationally. In October 2014, Canada was the only UN country to register objections over a landmark UN document re-establishing the protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples. On July 6-8, the United Nations reviewed Canada's human rights record for the first time since 2006, including in regard to blatant political defunding of charities and the passing of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 (Bill C-51), a bill providing expanded powers to the RCMP and CSIS, which legitimizes black ops against the Canadian people and further criminalizes dissent.

Whether at the United Nations or in other international and national fora, the Harper dictatorship uses its usurpation of state power to issue the most backward and pro-imperialist drivel, as if this represents the sentiments of Canadians. Nothing could be further from the truth. The values espoused by the Harper government to justify foreign aggression and interference in the internal affairs of other countries are alien to Canadians and alien to the UN Charter. Canadians want their country to be a genuine force for peace in the world, not a servile appendage of U.S. imperialism. The actions of the Harper government and the prime minister's diversionary 2014 speech to the United Nations again underscore the need for Canadians to fight for an anti-war government that opposes warmongering internationally and contributes to sorting out problems on a peaceful basis, an anti-war government that upholds the UN Charter not just in empty words but in actual deeds.


1. For the full text of the United Nations Charter, click here.

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Peace and Justice in East Asia

65th Anniversary of the Start of Korean War

On June 25, 1950, at 4 am local time, south Korean troops under direction from the U.S. launched an attack north across the 38th parallel dividing the Korean peninsula that began the Korean War. Over 4 million Koreans, mostly civilians, were killed in the war which also inflicted massive damage on the infrastructure and farmlands of the entire peninsula. The U.S. imperialists unleashed this unjust war as part of its Cold War strategy to cover their own crimes in the name of "containment" of communism. It was also to curb the south Korean people's resistance to U.S. military occupation and the puppet Syngman Rhee government and to demand a reunified Korea.

In order to launch the Korean War, the U.S. manoeuvred the UN Security Council with the story, based on fabricated "evidence," that it was the north that began the war. All of it was to cover up that first the U.S. illegally divided Korea into north and south. It then mobilized the UN to intervene in a civil war which constitutes foreign interference in the internal affairs of a country and is illegal under the UN Charter.

This modus operandi of concocting a pretext has been used many times since to justify illegal wars and occupation, including most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. To date the U.S/UN forces which launched the Korean War against the Korean people have not apologized to nor compensated the Korean people for this greatest of war crimes -- the crime against peace. On the contrary, the U.S./UN continues to target the DPRK with illegal sanctions, threats of a pre-emptive nuclear strike, ongoing disinformation campaigns about the DPRK's "human rights" record, and annual military exercises directed against the DPRK, in an effort to overthrow its government and socialist system and impose a U.S. dictatorship over the entire Korean peninsula.

The UN Security Council's "resolution" on the Korean war in 1950 was illegal as it was not based on investigating the truth about the accusation of an attack from the north brought to the UN Security Council by the U.S. The UN Security Council adopted the "resolution" to wage war on the Korean people in contravention of article 32 of the UN Charter -- which calls for parties to the dispute to be present at the discussions of the problems -- and paragraph 3 of article 27 of the UN Charter, which provides that a Security Council resolution is only valid if approved by a vote of Council members, including approval by all permanent Council members. Neither condition was met. At the time, neither the Soviet Union nor China were present. The Soviet Union was protesting the Security Council's refusal to seat the recently declared People's Republic of China as a member of the UN.

During the Korean War, the U.S. carried out massive bombing raids, massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians in the north and south of Korea, engaged in germ warfare and chemical warfare and bombed cities and infrastructure north of the 38th parallel in order to force the DPRK to submit. Civilians were buried alive, dismembered, burned to death and drowned. Many were forced to dig their own graves before being executed in the same manner that the Nazis massacred civilians, particularly those who resisted. All this was documented by the Commission of the Women's International Democratic Federation to Korea May 16-27, 1951. In their report "We Accuse!" the Commission condemned these crimes that were being committed against defenceless civilians and called for the UN to demand an end to all fighting, that all foreign troops be pulled out of Korea and for the Korean people to determine their own affairs.

When finally, after complicated negotiations which were constantly being sabotaged by the U.S., the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed on July 17, 1953, the U.S. refused to comply with the Agreement, the main point of which was for the two sides to sign a peace treaty as soon as possible. Since the time of the Korean War until now, the U.S. has refused to sign a peace treaty which betrays its true aims on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. and south Korea as well as a militarizing Japan continue to carry out military exercises and war games aimed at sparking another Korean war and overthrowing the DPRK by force which are also in violation of the Armistice Agreement.

It is high time the U.S. signed a peace treaty with the DPRK and brought a formal conclusion to the Korean War. This is the demand of the Korean people and all humanity. The Korean people have the right like all people to live in peace, and reunify their divided country. If President Obama can conclude that over 50 years of U.S. policy towards Cuba has been an utter failure and requires a different approach, why not for relations with the DPRK? It would be welcomed by the Korean people and all justice- and peace-loving humanity.

For its part the Harper government continues a diplomatic war with the DPRK and since coming to power in 2006, has outdone the Liberals in imposing various economic and political sanctions against that country. While diplomatic relations between the DPRK and Canada were established in 2000, no effort was made by the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, and from 2006, the Harper Conservatives, to normalize relations with the DPRK which would be a real contribution to peace on the Korean peninsula. The Harper government has gone out of its way to curry favour with the anti-communist south Korean government while behaving in a provocative and boorish way to the government of the DPRK.

To make amends for Canada's involvement in the Korean War, the Canadian people must ensure that another war does not break out. One way to contribute to this is to remove the war government of Stephen Harper from power in 2015 and to demand that the next government normalize relations with the DPRK and work for peace on the Korean peninsula.

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The U.S. Must Be Held Accountable for Korean War

Japan annexed and occupied Korea in 1910, an occupation that continued through to the end of the Second World War. When on December 1, 1943 Britain, the Republic of China and the United States issued the Cairo Declaration -- an outcome of the Cairo Conference held to discuss military strategy for the defeat of Japan and the reconstruction of postwar East Asia -- it noted: "The aforesaid three great powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent." None of these "three great powers" asked the Korean people their opinion, even though it was they who were spearheading the resistance against the Japanese military occupiers of their homeland.

On August 15, 1945, Liberation Day in Korea, the U.S. unilaterally divided Korea at the 38th parallel so that the Soviet Union, which had declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945 and participated in the liberation of Korea, would receive the Japanese surrender in the north, while the United States would receive the Japanese surrender in the south. In the meantime, the Korean people, who had themselves disarmed the Japanese, were jubilant in the north and the south and by September 6 had declared a Korean People's Republic.[1]

Two days later the U.S. military arrived in Korea and declared the Korean People's Republic illegal and outlawed the people's committees, which nonetheless in the north continued to play a decisive role in building a new society with the support of the Soviet Union until 1948.

Soon after its arrival, the U.S. established the United States Military Government in Korea (USMGK). One of the first things the USMGK did was to put former Japanese officers and Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese military occupiers of Korea (1910-1945) in positions of power.

U.S. Army photos depicting the summary execution of South Korean political prisoners by the South Korean military and police at Daejeon, South Korea, over several days in July 1950.

From 1945 to 1948, the USMGK carried out a campaign of mass terror against the south Korean people in an attempt to defeat their revolutionary uprising against the U.S. dictate. The evidence presented at the Korean International War Crimes Tribunal in New York City June 23-25, 2001, in which over 60 Canadians participated, provided details of the crimes committed by the U.S. military in Korea from 1945-1950. These included mass political assassinations of communists, socialists and leftists who expressed sympathy for their northern compatriots. Torture and imprisonment were widely used against patriotic Korean intellectuals, students, women, peasants and workers who affirmed Korean independence and sovereignty, and an anti-communist crusade against the north Koreans was carried out.[2]

In the face of this organized terror, the Korean people stepped up their revolutionary resistance. In April 1948, a broad political conference representing 56 south and north Korean political parties met at Pyongyang to oppose the fraudulent U.S./UN elections planned in the south for May 10. The meeting called for elections organized and run by the Korean people themselves. That same month the heroic Jeju Island uprising took place to protest the U.S./UN elections. The Jeju islanders took up arms, burned down the polling stations and took over military posts to assert their right to decide their future. They were met with massive force directed by the U.S. resulting in the deaths of nearly 30,000 patriotic Koreans on the island who wanted nothing less than one Korea undivided. The Yosu uprising in October 1948 spurred more widespread armed struggle against the U.S. military and their local puppets..

By this time, U.S. monopolies and finance capital controlled 80 per cent of the key sectors of the south Korean economy, such as mining, energy production, manufacturing, banking and other sectors -- taking over from where the Japanese militarists had left off. Thus there was no motivation for the U.S. imperialists to see a "free and independent Korea."[3]

In 1948, only after three years of efforts by the Korean people and when there seemed no possibility of a united Korea, Koreans in the north, led by Kim Il Sung, declared their Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Since its founding the DPRK has continued to uphold the dignity of the Korean nation and has spearheaded the Korean people's movement for peace and reunification.

Left: A long line of refugees fled Yongdong, South Korea, on July 26, 1950. The same day, eight miles down the road at No Gun Ri, hundreds of refugees came under fire from U.S. troops.
Right: In this undated photo suspected communist collaborators were rounded up in Yongdong.

The disinformation that the DPRK launched an unprovoked attack across the 38th parallel at 4:30 am on June 25, 1950 to start the Korean War is repeated by the U.S. and its allies, including the Harper government, and the monopoly media to justify the ongoing criminal political and economic sanctions against the DPRK and to continue the Korean War. The facts show that the Korean War was instigated by the U.S. as a result of its policies in south Korea from 1945-1950 and that it intervened in a civil war situation in violation of the UN Charter. The launching of the Korean War by the U.S. began in 1945 and escalated on June 25, 1950. If the U.S. had not occupied Korea in 1945, the Korean people would have sorted out their own problems, as they clearly proved when they declared their Korean People's Republic. Who then should be held responsible for the Korean War if not the U.S.?

Canadians should look into the Korean War in light of their own direct experience of the U.S. role in the world today. The Korean War was a civil war concerning the Korean people. It did not concern the U.S., Canada, or any of the 17 countries who went to war against the Korean people to assist U.S. imperialism.

During the war, the Korean people suffered 4.6 million deaths of mostly civilians, the destruction of the economic infrastructure of the DPRK and the ruin of the Korean economy, both north and south. The Korean War was a holocaust against the Korean people in which the U.S. carried out massacres of civilians, carpet bombing, germ and chemical warfare such as the broad use of napalm, and even threatened to use the atom bomb, all in an effort to subdue the Korean people. But it failed.

Pyongyang, DPRK, 1953, after U.S. bombing.

Canadians have a responsibility to the Korean people to ensure that another Korean War does not break out. The Harper war government must be defeated in the federal election because of its warmongering and anti-communist hysteria against the DPRK. Canadians and all peace-loving people must demand that the United States sign a peace treaty with the DPRK to end the Korean War once and for all.


1. Korea International War Crimes Tribunal, Report on U.S. Crimes in Korea 1945-2001 (2001).

2. Hugh Deane. The Korean War 1945-1953.

3. Korea Focus, Vol. 1; No 1 -- Special Issue (1971).

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East Asian Peoples Stand Up Against Japanese Militarism and for Peace

To mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the alarming rise of Japanese militarism today, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and other peoples in East Asia are organizing for peace in the region and for respectful and mutually beneficial relations between their countries.

The three main themes in this work are to prevent another world war from breaking out in East Asia by demanding that Japan own up to its crimes against the South East Asian people during the Second World War, to build the East Asian peoples' opposition to the increasingly pro-war stand of the Japanese government of Shinzo Abe, and to support the peaceful, independent reunification of Korea, the first step of which is to conclude a Peace Treaty between the U.S. and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to replace the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953.

Summing up the collective experience of the Asian peoples who suffered under the yoke of Japanese militarism in the Second World War, the organization Civilians in East Asia note in their declaration of June 23, 2015 that the peoples of Japan, Korea, China and other Asian nations suffered greatly under Japanese military occupation and brutality in the Second World War. This organization emphasizes that it was only after Japan was found guilty of the crimes it had committed against the Asian peoples that the process of reintegrating it into the family of nations began. The organization cites the statement made in 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War by then Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama who declared that during the Second World War, Japan "caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology."

Civilians in East Asia expresses alarm that the current Abe government in Japan glorifies Japanese militarism, trying to justify the unjustifiable, suggesting that Japanese militarism was for the purpose of "self-defence" and "for the liberation of Asia." The organization states that such a stand is an affront to the people of Asia who suffered under Japanese military violence and brutality, and that the members of the organization will resolutely oppose the Abe government, demanding that "Japan should take wartime responsibility as a major culprit who triggered the Asia-Pacific War and invaded and colonized a number of nations in the Asia-Pacific region" and as a result of this "since the end of the war in 1945 ... most, if not all, East Asian nations have never been free from the constant state of conflicts, wars and antagonism." The organization is demanding as well that the Japanese government compensate those who suffered and their survivors for these crimes. In the face of this reality Civilians in East Asia put forward its Declaration which contains the following demands:

1. We demand a peaceful environment which is based upon mutual respect, confidence and cooperation among East Asian peoples by making continuing efforts to promote mutual understanding amongst each other and to share an understanding of our common history;

2. We insist that the Abe government should recognize and sincerely apologize for Japan's aggressive wars and colonial rule against its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region, and compensate fully all the victims and their surviving family members;

3. We will make extraordinary efforts to build a genuinely peaceful environment and establish a common regional security structure in the East Asia region by first replacing the fragile Armistice Agreement on the Korean War with a Peace Treaty, and then by removing U.S. military bases from Japan and South Korea which are the ultimate causes of constant military tensions in the region;

4. We demand the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and DPRK by the former atoning for the past to the latter, solely based upon the Pyongyang Declaration and the recent agreement concluded in Stockholm late last year;[1]

5. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of concluding the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea, we require a review of the relationship between the two nations and to resolve the past's heinous crimes such as the Japanese military's "comfort women" which was one of Japan's serious war crimes, crimes against humanity, and infringement of human rights;

6. We encourage north and south Korea, the only divided nation left in the world, to resume dialogue for the realization of the independent peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula which should be solely based upon the June 15 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Declaration concluded by the leaders of both sides;

7. We will make every effort for the implementation of true peace and security in the region by working hand in hand with all the peoples based upon mutual respect, confidence and cooperation.

Another broad-based organization, the Association for Civil Solidarity has also been carrying out various activities for one year in preparation for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The organization aims to "build cooperation with organizations for peace and human rights in Japan and other countries especially in East Asia. Since its founding, it has carried on a campaign for building a peaceful environment in East Asia by demanding the Japanese government apologize and compensate victims for its past aggression and colonial rule, making efforts for deepening mutual understanding among civilians in the region and for the normalization of Japan-DPRK relations, and promoting the independent peaceful reunification of Korea."

A major conference is being convened in Tokyo on August 22 at which panelists from Japan, Russia, DPRK, south Korea, China and the U.S. will elaborate ways and means of strengthening regional peace and stability in East Asia.


1. The Pyongyang Declaration of 2002 was signed by Japan and the DPRK to help normalize relations between the two countries which included Japan's apology for the crimes committed against the Korean people during the Second World War and the DPRK's cooperation to locate and repatriate a small number of Japanese citizens who were "abducted" and taken to the DPRK at the height of tensions between the two countries. The Stockholm Declaration of 2014 was a follow-up to the Pyongyang Declaration and expressed the interest of both countries to build and further develop relations on a peaceful basis.

(Quotations edited slightly for grammar by TML.)

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Growing Movement for Anti-War Government in Japan

Mass rally in Naha, Japan, May 17, 2015,  opposes presence of U.S. military bases in Okinawa.

The anti-war movement in Japan is bringing together many threads in the struggle against militarism and the continuing U.S. armed occupation of the country. The strongest upsurge is in the southwest in Okinawa where the people are waging a determined struggle to oust the U.S. military from their islands. Daily demonstrations are taking place on land and sea to prevent the construction of a new U.S. military base in Henoko.

Every poll shows over 80 per cent of the residents of Okinawa want the U.S. military to vacate the Futenma marine base in Ginowan immediately and stop the construction of any new bases. Anti-war public opinion is coalescing around the demand that all U.S. troops must leave Japan, as their presence prevents the country from developing friendly peaceful relations with its neighbours. The call is rising for the annulment of the U.S./Japan military alliance. The Japanese are searching for a new direction out of the 70 year-old U.S. military occupation, the constant war games and threats against China and the DPRK, and U.S. interference in the political affairs of all countries.

Despite the decades-old U.S. political and cultural aggression within Japan, a popular sentiment is emerging that U.S. imperialism represents the main danger for war in the world and blocks any movement towards independent pro-social anti-war governments. In Okinawa, the anti-war sentiment has penetrated all sectors of society, including elected officials and the mass media, and this is beginning to have an effect throughout Japan, giving the anti-war political movement direction and strength. The burgeoning anti-war movement has alarmed the militarists and warmongers in Tokyo led by Prime Minister Abe and the two ruling parties, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito. To push their pro-war militarist policies and deprive the people of their rights, the warmongers have launched a frontal fascist attack against the people of Okinawa, their political leaders and media, and others in the opposition throughout Japan.

At a June 25 meeting at the headquarters of the ruling LDP, Abe government members and leading spokespeople called for punitive action against any mass media that criticize the militarist legislation the Abe government submitted to the Diet (Parliament) in May or advocate the removal of U.S. bases from Japan. A political confidant of the Abe government, Hyakuta Naoki, along with other Abe legislators at the LDP meeting are reported to have suggested the time has come to suppress free speech and spoke of punishing the two main newspapers in Okinawa for opposing the building of a new U.S. military base and Abe's pro-war legislation. Naoki, a former government-appointed governor of the national public broadcaster NHK, who has in his own words, led the charge to "clean the news of anti-government reports," went so far as to say, "The two newspapers in Okinawa should be shut down." The LDP meeting discussed ways to "crush" the two local Okinawa newspapers, blaming them for leading the campaign against the Abe/U.S. agenda for war and expansion of U.S. bases in Japan, exchanging ideas on how to use their influence in the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) and directly with companies to stop them from buying advertisements.

An LDP government member reportedly advocated punishing all news media that are critical of the Abe militarist agenda saying, "A way to punish the mass media is to cut their income from advertisements. I want intellectuals to ask the Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren) to help financially pressure the media."

Since the meeting, Naoki has continued to call for the suppression of free speech and the right to conscience. He is encouraging reprisals against any mass media critical of the pro-war legislation now before the Diet. He is calling for a campaign to "crush" not only the two local Okinawa dailies but also the national newspapers Asahi and Mainichi, and the local paper Tokyo Shimbun for taking positions against the Abe government agenda.

The Okinawa Times and the Ryukyu Shimpo, on June 26 jointly issued a statement denouncing the attacks on their right to speak openly on political affairs, including the right to criticize the government agenda. They write that the reported remarks at the government meeting show intolerance towards media criticizing the militarist agenda, which amounts to advocating the suppression of free speech. They state that the news media should be critical of any abuse of power. To believe that news companies should only report news in line with government positions and that all those doing otherwise should be eliminated is extremely dangerous, they write. The Okinawa Times and the Ryukyu Shimpo declare they will keep fighting against any attempt to suppress freedom of speech and expression.

The Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers' Unions (Shimbun Roren) and Japan Federation of Commercial Broadcast Workers' Unions (Minpo Roren) also released protest statements condemning the ruling party's call to suppress free speech and escalate government control over and interference in the mass media. They see the calls to punish the two newspapers as a threat to all those who oppose the militarist pro-war legislation the Abe government is pushing through the Diet.

Rally organized by opposition parties to protest oppressive remarks on freedom of speech by parliamentarians of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and the government's militarist legislation, Tokyo, June 30, 2015.

The Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association representing 130 newspaper companies across the country and the Japan Commercial Broadcasters Association also issued protests against the LDP.

In their joint statement, the two Okinawa newspapers state that the mass media acquiescing to militarist Japan prior to and during WWII was a grave mistake. They write, "Okinawa's newspapers cooperated with the government's policy to wage war before and during the war. After the war, Okinawa's newspapers started their own business, regretting that they had committed the error of supporting the government's war policy. Many media people do not want reporting to once again support the lead-up to war.

"It is a matter of course for media outlets to publish critical reports on the government because journalism has a watchdog role, which means monitoring the political power. A society that secures the right to critical reports of those in power is a sound one. It is simplistic and dangerous to think that media should be shut down because they are critical of the government. We think it is a dangerous threat not only to the two newspapers of Okinawa, but to the mass-media outlets in the country.

"The Ryukyu Shimpo and the Okinawa Times will resolutely oppose attempts to attack the freedom of expression and freedom of speech."

(With files from Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, Okinawa Times, Ryukyu Shimpo. Photos: M. Nakamura, Xinhua, Japan Press Weekly)

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Japanese Prime Minister Confronted in Okinawa

At a memorial service at the Peace Memorial Park in Okinawa's Itoman City on June 23 for those who died in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa attended by Japan's Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, Okinawa Governor Onaga Takeshi demanded that Japan and the U.S. drop their plan to construct a new U.S. base in the Henoko coastal district.

Governor Onaga stated in his speech that Okinawans cannot accept the plan to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Futenma Air Station to Henoko under the pretext of eliminating various risks associated with the station. "The central government should make a decision to stop the construction work without being held back by fixed ideas," he stressed.

Speaking of the premise of the Peace Memorial Park, Onaga recalled that the many memorial stones are referred to as "The Cornerstone of Peace" and list the names of those killed in the bloodiest battle in Okinawa in the spring of 1945. Along with 87 people added this year, the number of inscribed names now totals 241,336.

Okinawans do not want to be a factor for another war and that is one reason they oppose the continuing U.S. military presence on their islands and the militarist legislation of the Abe government. When Abe rose to speak many in the audience could not contain their anger and shouted, "Go home! Warmonger! How dare you come here?"

People were acutely aware that on the previous day, the Abe government used its power to extend the current Diet (parliament) session for 95 days to force through the deeply unpopular militarist legislation to legalize Japanese troops fighting U.S.-led wars abroad, the export of Japanese war material and the suppression of anti-war speech and activities. Analysts have noted that Abe's determination to pass the militarist legislation, despite an overwhelming popular will opposing it, may be connected with Abe's speech in the U.S. Congress in April. Before the U.S. imperialist ruling elite in Washington, Abe pledged to enact militarist war legislation by this summer to enable Japan's armed forces to participate directly in U.S.-led wars and to export sophisticated weaponry to countries within the U.S.-led imperialist system of states. The members of the U.S. Congress greeted his promise with wild applause and cheers of congratulations.

However, the militarist legislation has not gone smoothly, encountering problems even amongst the Japanese ruling elite. In the Diet on June 22, former Director-General of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau Miyazaki Reiichi pointed out that allowing the country's military to participate in foreign wars under the banner of collective self-defense within the U.S./Japan military alliance violates the existing Constitution. "The government should retract the bills immediately," he said.

The Abe government is now suggesting that the Constitution not the legislation will be adjusted, or at least its interpretation, so that any militarist legislation that is illegal today will become legal in the future. Abe's Defense Minister Nakatani Gen went so far as to say that the government has drafted the militarist bills considering "how to adjust the present Constitution to fit in with this legislation" and not the other way around. This remark sparked widespread public criticism.

Prime Minister Abe insists that ordering Japan's armed forces to go abroad to fight U.S.-led wars is a matter of principle saying, "Sticking to the past governments' view regarding the use of the right to collective self-defense as unconstitutional would amount to neglecting my duty as head of state."

(With files from Japan Press Weekly)

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Broad Opposition to Japan's Militarist Legislation

Constitutional experts assemble in front of the Diet building to voice objections to the government's war bills, Tokyo, July 3, 2015.

Opposition to the militarist legislation introduced by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is widespread throughout the country. The latest opinion poll conducted by Kyodo News shows that 63.1 per cent of respondents oppose enactment of the war-related bills during the current Diet (Parliament) session and 84 per cent are dissatisfied with the government's accounts of the militarist legislation.

Since the Abe administration submitted the war bills to the Diet in May, in 30 out of 47 prefectures in Japan, 116 assemblies at prefectural and municipal levels have adopted statements opposing the bills. Sixty-seven of the statements either clearly express opposition to the militarist bills or demand that they be scrapped.

People's voices opposing the Abe government's war legislation are becoming louder day by day. From June 13 to 15, various protest actions took place across the country.

In Kyoto, approximately 2,300 people attended a rally on June 13 to protest the militarist legislation. On the same day, 16,000 people rallied at a seaside park in Tokyo's Koto Ward, under the slogan "Stop the out-of-control Abe government!" National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) President Odagawa Yoshikazu, who delivered a speech on behalf of the organizing committee, said, "Our campaign is driving the Abe government into a corner. Let's further increase our concerted efforts to stop Abe's runaway policies." Also at the rally, Nakamura Mamoru, leader of an anti-war organization in Okinawa, condemned both Japan and the U.S. for trying to construct a new U.S. military base in Okinawa, which will be operational until the 23rd century. "Through nationwide struggles, let's topple the Abe Cabinet which is rushing the nation toward war," he said.

On June 14, about 4,000 citizens in Nagoya City joined an anti-war gathering called by the Aichi Bar Association, and in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, 3,500 young people organized in anti-war groups across the city paraded through the shopping area calling on people to oppose militarism and the war legislation. Participating high school students said they "want to show Prime Minister Abe how many youth are angry at his war-promoting policies." On that same day in Tokyo around 25,000 people holding placards that read "No to war legislation" completely surrounded the National Diet Building.

On the following day, Zenroren, anti-war groups and civic organizations opposed to the government's war bills, launched a sit-in protest in front of the Diet Building. Around noon, the sidewalks around the Diet members' office buildings were filled with some 600 protesters. They say they will stage daily sit-in protests in front of the parliament building until the militarist legislation is withdrawn.

On June 24, two days after the Abe government forcibly extended the current Diet session in an attempt to destroy anti-war public opinion, 30,000 people surrounded the Diet Building voicing their opposition to the war legislation. Their anti-war slogans echoed through its chambers. Demonstrators shouted, "Scrap the war bills! The Abe Cabinet should resign immediately!" and other slogans expressing their desire for an anti-war government.

(With files and photo from Japan Press Weekly)

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