17 October 2016
CANADA: The testimony I could not give--CPTer David Milne’s statement against Canadian weapons trafficking
[Note: On 19 September, CPTer David Milne had charges dismissed related to his protest of the 25 May CANSEC weapons bazaar in Ottawa. Below is the statement he did not get to make before the court.]
“Your Worship, I plead not guilty to trespassing and creating a disturbance. I acknowledge that officers of the RCMP and the Ottawa police did warn me on three or more occasions between 10:30 a.m. and noon of May 25 that I should leave the lobby of the building with our banner ‘NO MORE ARMS DEALS’ or face criminal charges. An RCMP officer later warned me that if I continued to shout while in the lobby I would be charged with creating a disturbance. Nonetheless, I assert that my actions and those of my two colleagues were necessary to warn government officials and the Canadian public that continuing the traffic in arms recklessly endangers Canadian citizens and brings harm to foreign citizens. Arms sales do not protect us; they endanger us.
We chose this location, Your Worship, because this is where arms manufacturers and the representatives of foreign governments meet with Canadian government officials to make arms deals. We needed to bring our protest to the centre rather than remain on the periphery.
I will illustrate with a few, brief examples that arms sales threaten the safety of Canadian citizens. Canada is a major exporter of arms to foreign countries. Our chief customer is the military of the United States of America, receiving about two thirds of our total production (reference Project Ploughshares). The current federal government approved the sale of Canadian made Light Armoured Vehicles to the despotic, brutal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against the counsel of Human Rights Watch and other NGOs. These agencies have concluded that the Saudi regime will use the Canadian made LAV’s against dissidents who oppose the Saudi autocracy.
In the fall of 2002, 2003, and 2004 I spent time in Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams, a peace and justice organization. We documented the effects of the invasion and the occupation.
In 2002 I toured the wrecked Amariyah bomb shelter where four hundred or so Iraqi women, children and old people died on February 13, 1991, when American fighter bombers dropped a percussion bomb and an incendiary bomb onto the shelter. I viewed the photos and markers left by surviving family members.
In 2003 teammates and I took testimonies from Iraqis about the house raids conducted by coalition troops. In one case American soldiers attacked and entered the home of the Talib family in Baghdad thinking it belonged to a family named Aziz, whose father they suspected of participating in the growing insurgency. Despite the error, they imprisoned for up to four months the Talib family’s three young adult sons in blistering heat and primitive camp conditions.
I also met eight year old Mohammed, his sisters, and their uncle and guardian at a farm house between the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. American forces had attacked their home in late August of 2003. Their mother died of wounds and their father and an older brother disappeared into prison camps, never to be heard from again. Whether they participated in attacks on American troops or not, the alleged reason for the raid, the men did not receive due process in any recognized court system and innocent people suffered grievously.
These stories are but a few of many I heard, Your Honour.
I called out, loudly and repeatedly because the security guards diverted passersby from our protest. We sought to give them information re our concerns.
It disturbs me greatly that Canadians have prospered by selling weapons used to inflict such terror and suffering on other people. I cannot help but think that at some future time Mohammed or any of his countrymen, or people in other Middle Eastern countries might plan to pay us back in kind. I fear for the safety of my own grandchildren. We must realize that our safety and well-being is connected to the safety and well-being of people everywhere.
About two hundred years ago, Your Worship, the western world began to curb and outlaw slavery. Now we must ban the manufacture and sale of weapons. You have the opportunity of taking one small step toward this noble end by finding us not guilty on legal as well as moral grounds.
Thank you for considering this testimony.”