Saturday, April 05, 2008

Did Stephen Harper Freeze Out Louise Arbour?


Louise Arbour, the soon to be former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is one of our heroes.

For all kinds of reasons.

Like making it clear that ALL civilians deserve protection in war zones.

And for making it clear that secret prisons and the process of rendition must be stopped, no matter who is doing it.

But most of all, we admire our fellow Canadian for being the first official with an international profile to call for the closure of the Concentration Camp at Guantanamo Bay Cuba when no one else would.

Of course, the Bush administration and the Cheneyites hated that last one most. As a result, they sent their pit-bull-with-a-moustache, John Bolton, after her with a vengeance.

Now though, there are reports that Ms. Arbour's resignation, which she announced in early March, may have been forced, at least in part, by current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

I first heard of this last night on CBC Radio One's "As It Happens" (wmv. file) when they interviewed John Zarocostas who wrote a piece in the Human Rights Tribune about how he thinks Mr. Harper withdrew critical support for Ms. Arbour's possible re-appointment.

The absence of support from the highest levels of the government of Prime Minister Steven Harper torpedoed the chances of for Louise Arbour to get the nod for a second term as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, diplomatic sources said.

Although Arbour stated that she "was not quitting because of this pressure”, diplomatic sources said the Harper government was not pleased with Arbour’s criticism of the US treatment of detainees in the war on terror or her open criticism of abuses by Canada and US allies such as Israel.

Now, this should, I suppose, be taken with a grain of salt as it could be argued that Mr. Zaracostas might be influenced by an apparent tacit support for many of the actions taken by Ms. Arbour in support of true Human Rights for all (ie. as opposed to state-specific support for the rights of some).

However, after I heard the report on AIH I spent a little time searching the fringes of the Google-Cache and found another older report also written by Mr. Zaracostas that essentially said the same thing.

And it was interesting to note that the earlier piece was not published in the 'Human Rights Tribune'. Instead, it graced the pages of the Mooniefied 'Washington Times' which, of course, is hardly a virulent critic of Mess'rs Bush, Cheney and the rest of the Neandercon Caballaroes.



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