Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dear Prime Minister Harper [etc.],

Canada led the way to ban landmines. Now it is time to ban cluster bombs. I urge the Canadian government to join with the 30 other nations working toward a new treaty to stop the suffering caused by cluster bombs.

I await your reply.


Re: KIHC detainees

My name is Timothy Schwinghamer. I am a graduate student at the University of Manitoba. I am emailing you because the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre ought to provide medical care immediately and daily to Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Hassan Almrei, and any other detainees who suffer. If the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre will not send in health care staff, which they did do until September, the government must allow an independent outside doctor in to check on the detainees. The federal government must immediately appoint a neutral mediator to deal with the problems, and set up a system to deal with ongoing issues that is balanced and fair, as per the concerns raised by the federal government's own Office of the Correctional Investigator.

Sincerely and Respectfully,


Sabotage with an ecological motive; terrorism carried out against companies and institutions which are considered to be causing unnecessary damage to the environment.

1971 Newsweek
"A Washington-based antipollution lobby called Environmental Action is sponsoring a national contest to develop and publicize new ways of harassing alleged corporate polluters. The contest... is entitled ‘ecotage’."

1985 Maclean's
"Said Richard Bailey, an Oregon trucker, former logger and member of Earth First: ‘Ecotage is almost like a religion.’"

1987 New Internationalist
"Earth First is crammed with stories of civil disobedience or ‘ecotage’."

Hence ecoteur n. [after saboteur n.], a person who carries out acts of ecotage.

1972 Observer
"Environmental Action this week published a paper-back collection of the most creative and feasible..entries. A foreword says that if Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were alive today they would be ‘ecoteurs’ by night."

1990 Seattle Times
The Sea Shepherds are a small band of ecoteurs dedicated to saving whales.

Violent evictions at El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala

On January 8th and 9th 2007, hundreds of police and soldiers in Guatemala forcibly evicted the inhabitants of several communities who were living on lands that a Guatemalan military government had granted to Canadian mining company INCO in 1965. Local indigenous populations claim the land to be theirs, and resent the exploitation of an outside corporation. Canada’s Skye Resources now lays claim to the land, and paid workers a nominal sum to destroy people’s homes. With the force of the army and police, company workers took chainsaws and torches to people’s homes, while women and children stood by. Skye Resources claims that they maintained "a peaceful atmosphere during this action."

Here's the video:

Friday, January 26, 2007

Two things today


Re: Nuclear war

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

My name is Timothy Schwinghamer. I am a graduate student at the University of Manitoba. I am writing to you because I am frightened by the potentially imminent attack by the U. S. on Iran. Such an attack could move western and central Asia into total chaos. It could create radioactive fallout. It would kill millions of people and could ignite a nuclear war. Before any such eventuality, I will participate in organizing and mobilizing an anti-war movement, to the best of my ability. However, you must withdraw any military presence in western Asia. Stopping the U. S. attack on Iran will require a great deal of diplomatic creativity and swiftness.

Very recently, the board of directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in consultation with a board of sponsors that includes 18 nobel laureates, moved the Doomsday Clock from 7 to 5 min 'til midnight. We are marching - like The Fool - with one foot over the precipice.

Stop the nuclear war before it happens.




[I can't seem to access the original article in the Lancet. Here's the next best thing.]
Potentials for exposure to industrial chemicals suspected of causing developmental neurotoxicity

Thursday, January 25, 2007

At the corner of Broadway and Kennedy, behind the Law Courts, Jan 27, 1:00 p. m.

protest Guantánamo.

In January 2002, the U.S. authorities transferred the first “War on Terror” detainees to the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Despite international condemnation, more then 400 people of some 30 nationalities continue to be held there without being fairly charged or tried. Not one has been convicted of a criminal offence by the U.S. Amnesty International has also received credible reports of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees. And the indefinite nature of their detentions subjects them and their families to terrible uncertainty and suffering. Guantánamo is part of a global system that operates outside international humanitarian law, treats human rights with contempt, and tells other governments that it is acceptable to abuse human rights. The US government needs to hear the global plea to give fair trials or freedom to the detainees – and to close the Guantánamo detention centre. Join us in speaking up for human rights, please come out and participate in the rally being held this Saturday in Winnipeg at the corner of Broadway and Kennedy, behind the Law Courts, Jan 27, 1:00 p. m.

Canada needs to speak up on Guantánamo. Many world leaders have said the U.S. detention centre at Guantánamo Bay is ineffective, wrong and must be closed. Canada purports to be a leader in defending human rights, but so far the Canadian government has been silent on Guantánamo. Let’s end this silence. Urge Prime Minister Harper to demand fair trials or freedom for Guantánamo detainees.

Take action here:

Jump aboard Amnesty’s global online flotilla:

Why Close Guantanamo?

Questions and Answers about Gitmo:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Re: Kanonhstaton/Douglas Creek

Honourable Prime Minister,

My name is Timothy Schwinghamer. I am a graduate student at the University of Manitoba. I am contacting you because I am very concerned about the criminalization of the Onkweonweh, the original people of Kanonhstaton, Douglas Creek. Please find a solution immediately, which will recognize the legitimacy of the Six Nations land claims, as well the jurisdiction of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Please stop immediately the criminalization of Kanonhstaton and all Onkwehonweh who defend their rights and their land.

Sincerely and Respectfully,


Governor General Michaëlle Jean
Premier Dalton McGuinty
Federal Indian Affairs Minister

Monday, January 22, 2007

[I usually steer clear of american issues, but this news item provides me with evidence that sometimes even the infamous Fox news can tell valuable stories. The link below shows the St. Petersburg police slashing the tents of homeless people. Check it out.]

Fiscal General de la Republica y Jefe del Ministerio Publico

Lic. Juan Luis Florido
15 avenida 15-16
Zona 1, Barrio Gerona, 8vo. nivel
Guatemala, Guatemala

Vicepresidente de la Republica
Sr. Eduardo Stein Barillas
Casa Presidencial, 6a. Avenida 4-18, Zona 1
Guatemala, Guatemala

The Diplomatic Representative of Guatemala
Embassy of the Republic of Guatemala
130 Albert Street Suite 1010
Ottawa ON K1P 5G4

Dear Attorney General,

My name is Timothy Schwinghamer. I am a graduate student at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Canada. I am concerned for the safety of Carlos Albacete, Piedad Albacete and other members of their environmental organization, Green Tropic (Trópico Verde).

I urge you to order a thorough and independent investigation into the attempt on the lives of Carlos Albacete and Piedad Albacete, and into the threats and acts of intimidation suffered by them and their organization previously, and to bring those responsible to justice. Please remember your obligations to recognize the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders and their right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Liberties.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

[name, etc.]


Unidad de Proteccion de Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos
Movimiento Nacional de Derechos Humanos
1 Avenida 0-11, Zona 2
Colonia Lo de Bran
Guatemala, Guatemala

Friday, January 12, 2007


Dear Stockwell Day,

My name is Timothy Schwinghamer. I am a graduate student at the University of Manitoba. I am contacting you because I am very concerned for the health of Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub, and Hassan Almrei. They are on a hunger strike in protest of the conditions of their detention. All five men were arrested under Security Certificates, a measure of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that has been described by Amnesty International as fundamentally flawed and unfair. Security certificates and secret evidence reverse the fundamental rule of innocent until proven guilty. Neither the detainee nor his lawyer are informed of the precise allegations or provided with the full information against him. They are imprisoned indefinitely without charges on secret evidence and face deportation to their countries of origin, even if there is a substantial risk of torture or death. Please immediately close the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre; release Canada's secret trial security certificate detainees or provide them with a fair, transparent, open trial; end all proceedings to deport the Secret Trial Five (Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub, Hassan Almrei, Mohamed Harkat, Adil Charkaoui); abolish security certificates and end deportation to torture; immediately condemn the illegal Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

Secret trials are a wound to Canadian democracy.

Sincerely and respectfully,

Saturday, January 06, 2007

ICC climate change petition rejected

by Jane George

The effort to link climate change with human rights has suffered a setback.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights won’t consider a petition that alleges that the United States government is violating the human rights of Inuit by refusing to limit its greenhouse gas emissions.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who submitted the petition last December with the support of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in Canada and Alaska, received the news in a letter from the commission last month.

“It was disappointing for sure. Their letter was evasive and dismissive, and that’s the part that disappoints me and angers me more than anything else,” Watt-Cloutier said.

The letter states the commission “will not be able to process your petition at present... the information provided does not enable us to determine whether the alleged facts would tend to characterize a violation of rights protected by the American Declaration.”

But Watt-Cloutier hasn’t given up.

She’s asked the commission for further information on why it isn’t proceeding. She’s also invited commission members to visit the Arctic for a hearing “to provide testimony and documentation on these problems which are seriously affecting Inuit survival.”

Watt-Cloutier has told her 62 co-petitioners that “the issue remains much too important for us not to continue fighting for the world to take serious action against climate change.”

Watt-Cloutier said she isn’t discouraged by this down-turn of events.

“I’m an optimistic by nature. There are things that are happening today,” she said. “There’s some hope coming up now – Stéphane Dion is the Liberal leader.”

Watt-Cloutier unveiled the petition last December at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Montreal, which Dion, then the federal environment minister, chaired.

The petition then went to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington. The commission is an international legal body affiliated with the Organization of American States, but which operates at arms-length from the OAS and its member states.

The outcome of the legal action, supported by the Inuit Circumpolar Council in Alaska and Canada, was expected to have great influence on other courts and other jurisdictions.
The idea behind the petition, said Watt-Cloutier, was to encourage people in the South to realize climate change affects people as well the environment and the economy.

The detailed 175-page petition said climate change threatens the rights of Inuit to use and enjoy their traditional lands and personal property, their rights to health and life, to residence and movement and to their livelihood.

The petition asked for “relief from human rights violations resulting from the impacts of global warming and climate change caused by acts and omission of the U.S.,” which has not supported any mandatory reduction agreements designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions and curb global warming.

The petition also asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to visit the Arctic, conduct a hearing, and issue a report recommending the U.S. adopt mandatory measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions and cooperate on other international efforts.

The petition wanted the commission to produce plans to protect Inuit culture and resources, which would outline assistance options for adaptation and “any other relief that the commission considers appropriate and just.”

The petition mentioned no amount of money.

Since 1965, the commission has processed about 12,000 human rights cases, many of them involving allegations of mass murder, torture and arbitrary imprisonment made by victims of state terror in countries like Argentina, El Salvador and Guatemala. The body has also dealt with land rights cases brought forward by indigenous peoples throughout the Americas.

The Centre for International Environmental Law and the group Earth Justice provided free services to ICC in launching this petition and continue to provide legal follow-up. James Anaya, an aboriginal lawyer who works at the University of Arizona’s college of law, helped draft the petition, along with Nunavut lawyers Paul Crowley and Sandra Inutiq, and two graduate students from the U.S.

Watt-Cloutier said the next step is to wait and see how the commission reacts to the most recent round of correspondence.

“It is a long battle, but I think the least we expect is respect and some kind of a response.”
No matter what the petition’s fate is, Watt-Cloutier, who finished her tenure as ICC chair last July, intends to keep the focus on what she calls “the human face” of climate change in the Arctic.
Earlier this week, journalist Marianne Pearl, the widow of Daniel Pearl, a reporter murdered four years ago by terrorists in Pakistan, was in Iqaluit to interview Watt-Cloutier for a feature article, which will be published in the widely-circulated magazine, Glamour.

Then, Watt-Cloutier headed to Ottawa, where she was to be invested into the Order of Canada by Governor-General Michaëlle Jean on Friday, Dec. 15.

After Christmas, Watt-Cloutier plans to travel through five U.S. states on an “Arctic Voices” tour to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on Inuit.