We Remember

11/11/2015 19:16

I have the privilege of living in a nation where I can freely express myself. I have access to basic human rights and needs and fully exercise my right to vote, freedom of speech and political expression. I live in a peaceful nation void of bloodshed on the streets, where civil wars aren’t our daily reality. I am privileged to live in a nation where my gender rights are not threatened, and I freely walk on the streets without the fear of being abducted by rebels. What an honour it is to know that my right to life isn’t threatened by a political conflict!

This freedom has largely been secured by those who have gone before us. Many brave men and women in uniform have sacrificed their lives so that we can live in peace.  Today the inhabitants of this land continue to enjoy peace and freedom because of the brave souls who selflessly laid down their lives and those who continue to serve our nation.  Many nations in different parts of the world are faced by wars, political unrest, and unending civil conflicts. Many children have been forcefully recruited as  child soldiers  to fight wars they do not understand and unfortunately their sacrifice isn’t for the freedom of their loved ones. They fight to further the agenda of warlords who could care less about who lives or dies. Their sacrifice is in vain!

However, there are many soldiers in Canada, and other parts of the world, who have sacrificially given their lives for the benefit of their fellow citizens and their gift cannot be taken for granted. Sometimes when we watch the news and see catastrophes in other nations, we empathize but perhaps never stop for a moment to appreciate what we have here, that is until November when our calendars prompt us to remember!

Every day that we get to walk on the streets without the fear of being shot at or blown up should be a day to celebrate freedom! Every single day that we wake up and get to enjoy simple pleasures like tweeting, blogging, and expressing our opinion in one way or another is another opportunity to appreciate the freedom that this nation offers.

So today, we remember those who have gone before us… those who have laid down their lives for Canada to be what it is today. Today and every other day of the year, we celebrate the lives of the brave men and women who have paved the way for us to enjoy simple pleasures in life.

To our fallen heroes … thank you for laying down your lives! We celebrate YOU and may we never forget your sacrifice!

And to those who have served and continue to serve… thank you for giving so selflessly. We honour the gift of freedom and peace we have because of you!

Thank you!

Civil conflicts in Africa

14/08/2014 00:00

In 2011-2012 we witnessed some of the ugliest political conflicts in Africa: the post-electoral “war” in Cote d’Ivoire, the revolutions in Egypt and Libya, with the latter leading to the brutal murder of President Gaddafi.  There is no doubt that both revolutions were inevitable, but all three conflicts have left the nations in question in a state of confusion and unrest, with death tolls rising by the day, continuous human rights violations, and abuse of the judicial system.  Let’s take a brief look at the current state of affairs of these three nations:

Cote d’Ivoire: Even though they didn’t have a coup, the post electoral crisis in this nation cannot be ignored.  It is ironic that an exercise of constitutional rights (the right to vote, right to a free and fair election) resulted into a prolonged conflict. The political instability continues to be breeding ground for human rights violations. Innocent civilians continue to be arbitrarily arrested, and detained on the basis of their political preferences, which is violation of one’s right to the freedom of association. Most of the actions of the national army are outside the legal framework and in violation of the constitution of Cote d’Ivoire which awards every citizen the right to a fair trial.  As violence prevails in this nation, one wonders if there will ever be peace. None of the perpetrators of these human rights violations have been brought to justice.

Egypt: The situation in Egypt is similar to that in Libya. The emergency legislation, created after President Mubarak was forced to resign (and later sentenced to life in prison), hasn’t been very effective. The police force [a supposed] instrument of justice is responsible for a majority of human rights violations in Egypt including: unlawful detention, death of innocent citizens, and torture of human rights activists. Police brutality is at an all-time high and if not put under control, innocent civilians will continue to suffer.   Reshuffling the police and making a few changes in the legislature won’t ensure human rights protection, at least not to the international standard. In order to address these problems, it might be necessary to completely restructure the legislature.  Any judicial instrument that sets itself above the law it seeks to protect is bound to abuse its power, therefore the power of the police has to be checked.

Libya: Oh Libya! What are we going to do with you?  Not only was the revolution in Libya a bloody mess (literally) which resulted in the death of many civilians and displaced many people from their homes, but violence still persists to this day!

 And how can we forget the fateful demise of President Gaddafi? There is no question that Colonel Gaddafi of Libya was a dictator and his policies and methods were nothing short of atrocious, but no man deserves to die like a dog on the streets of the country that he once used to rule. 

Nearly a year after the fall of Tripoli, the forces loyal to the National Transitional Council are still out of control, arbitrary arrests and detention are the order of the day, racism hasn’t been addressed, women’s rights are undermined, and torture and violence against innocent civilians are prevalent. The state of affairs now, seems very similar to the condition of this nation before the fall of Gaddafi.

It is important for any armed group that stages a coup against its leader to have a transition plan which it will enact after the fall of that leader. That has not been the case in Libya.

It is commonplace for nations to get stuck in a state of uncertainty post-revolution and it takes a lot of courage, dedication and structure to put the pieces back together.  The French revolution, which is one of the most memorable revolutions in history, lasted 10 years during which the French monarchy was overthrown in the first three years.  There are similarities between this war and the Libyan revolution. Both revolutions were started in order to oust dictatorial leaders, the premise of war demanding a more constitutional government. The parallels of these wars can also be drawn. What the French were able to accomplish in three years, Libya accomplished in a couple of months, and yet that victory hasn’t computed any tangible reforms. The French who had to wait 10 years for victory realized the importance of what they were fighting for. Old traditions of monarchy and aristocracy were quickly thrown out in favor of equality, and absolute rights. Even after the death of Colonel Gaddafi, the conflict in Libya hasn’t lost a beat, and seems just as vicious as before the fall of Tripoli. Some of the armed forces are still devoting their time and resources to destroying communities they believe were loyal to the late Colonel Gaddafi.

How can this nation move forward, if they keep looking over their shoulders?

Steps to reform this nation which is on the brink of self-destruction need to be taken fairly soon.  Disarming the militia [who have taken the law into their hands, and continue to violate human rights], could be a great starting place.  The legal system, which was worn out prior to the fall of Gaddafi, has completely broken down and restructuring this is also a priority.


This blog can also be viewed here.

In the life of Gaddafi

11/12/2011 00:01

Many of us were shocked to hear about Muammar Gaddafi’s death two months ago. None of us expected the events in Libya to take such a drastic turn. Irrefutably, change was inevitable, and sooner or later the revolution was bound to come to a head, but the violent murder of a president regardless of his autocracy, leaves a sour tone. A lot of people have clearly shown delight in the fact that the former Libyan leader is now dead, while others are distraught. Let’s examine both ends of the spectrum.

The revolution showed its initial signs early in February 2011. Following the protests in neighboring nations of Egypt and Tunisia, the people of Libya decided they had had enough of Gaddafi’s despotism. Despite having been in power since 1969, Gaddafi was unwilling to relinquish his hold on power and adamantly refused to step down. The people decided to take matters into their own hands and an opposition rebel group was formed. Their mandate seemed pretty simple; take down Gaddafi or force him to leave power and allow for a more liberal Libya. Peaceful measures failed to get Gaddafi to see reason, and hence the commencement of what turned out to be one of the most unpredictable revolutions in Africa. The revolution attracted international attention from Europe and North America, and military forces came together to aid rebel groups in Libya and put an end to Gaddafi’s reign.

Gaddafi was a ruthless despotic leader who had been in power for over 30 years. Most of his supporters and well-wishers stood by him through the revolution and fought for him with their every breath. The fall of their hero is undeniably devastating, and in light of his accomplishments, its understandable why they would cling onto the very end. His contributions to the nation of Libya cannot be ignored:

  1. Gaddafi turned Libya from an exploited and underdeveloped nation, to a robust oil exporting nation. The economy of Libya is stronger than most of the other African states, primarily due to their oil export industry. Gaddafi raised prices of oil and extraction in Libya, thus increasing Libya’s revenues. Libya exported just about as much oil as the Middle East.
  2. As a result of the oil industry and export, Libya has no debts. This is a great accomplishment since several developing and developed countries have accumulated a lot of debt, and some economies are on the brink of bankruptcy.
  3. Gaddafi decreased threat of neocolonialism in Libya by requesting western oil companies in Libya to increase Libya’s share in their revenues, or risk expulsion from the nation.
  4. Literacy rates rose from 10 to 90%, government support provided for university scholarships and employment opportunities.
  5. He also developed infrastructure like buildings, roads, schools, hospitals which all contributed to the growth of the economy. Note should be made though that such developments were favored in Gaddafi’s own hometowns; Subha and Surt.

It’s been said that it’s not how you start that matters, but rather how you finish. This statement rings true in Gaddafi’s life. Despite all his contributions to Libya, the last couple years reflect a great leader gone rogue. What should have been a great finish for him, turned out to be a tragic one. Not only were people aggravated by his long stay in power, but also by his ruthlessness. How can one reconcile the last couple months of his life with everything else that he did for Libya? Some of his tremendous contributions pale in comparison to the various human rights violations in Libya orchestrated by Gaddafi and his government, notably:

  1. He abolished the Libyan constitution of 1951, and replaced it with laws based on political ideology. It is almost impossible for a country to survive without a constitution. A constitution is a binding legal document that shows a government’s commitment to uphold justice and also outlines every citizen’s guarantee to personal rights and freedoms. Absence of a constitution naturally leads to injustice and violation of human rights and freedoms. As a result of such a catastrophic move, all Libyans have such been denied basic human rights and freedoms.
  2. Gaddafi abolished Christian calendar of holidays, and replaced them with a Muslim calendar, making it the nation’s official calendar. This is a violation of the right to free worship, and undermines the right of equality.
  3. Gaddafi viewed all forms of political parties as dictatorships. He instead advocated for direct rule by people’s committees according to Islamic law. The irony of this is overwhelming considering that it’s the direct rule of the people that led to his demise.  The right to form political parties is another right that citizens are entitled to, and absence of a constitution to ensure and protect this right consequently leads to human rights violation.
  4. Gaddafi used a large part of the nation’s revenues and profits to boost the wellbeing of his family and close elites. He only structurally developed his hometowns, while certain cities and towns were extremely underdeveloped.
  5. The rates of corruption in Libya are disturbingly high, primarily because Gaddafi turned a blind eye to his close allies and government officials who inappropriately administrated the nation’s funds, and exploited the working class and poor. 
  6. We also cannot ignore the various human rights violations by the militia and government – arbitrary arrests, execution and mutilations of political opponents; recruitment and employment of hit squads to murder critics abroad, were all actions that Gaddafi let slide.
  7. Gaddafi was also determined to eliminate all dark skinned people from migrating into Europe. He referred them as “barbaric, ignorant and starving Africans” who would undermine the development of Europe. His statements were not only racially discriminatory, but backward move that undermines the progression of equality of all human beings.
  8. Gaddafi admitted to having sponsored the bombing of Pan AM flight 103 plane which exploded in Scotland, killing 270 people.
  9. Gaddafi also sponsored and armed other African dictators in central, northern and eastern Africa.
  10. When the revolution initially started, Gaddafi referred to the rebels and his opposition as “rats” and “cockroaches”, whom he would fight until the last drop of blood had been shed. He wasn’t in the least concerned about the demands of the people or the need for basic rights and freedoms.

History shows that the fate of most despotic leaders whom revolutionaries seek to remove never have a happy ending and it certainly wouldn’t have been different in this case. The intensity of the revolution in Libya however dictated a profound difference and proved that we were about to witness something new. The ferocity staged by both sides of revolution spelled out the nature with which the Libyan revolution would end. It is tragic to witness a promising political leader adopt a despotic mindset, and deliberately violate the rights of the very people that he should be defending and protecting. The last couple of years of Gaddafi’s reign were characterized by unarrest, violence, unlawful arrests and killing of innocent civilians, actions that cannot easily be swept under the rug.  So what went wrong? Is it possible at all that the tragic events of Libya could have been prevented?

Now that the revolution is over, and Gaddafi’s government has been overthrown, it is imperative that the people of Libya unite and form one democratic government with a constitution to protect the rights of all citizens. To date, the ex-rebels who aided in the overthrow of Gaddafi still haven’t been disarmed, and all efforts to do so have been futile. It is naïve to expect a seamless transition from a bloody revolution to a peaceful democratic, human rights respecting nation.  In order for this nation to move forward and achieve justice and make progress with regards to democracy, the rebels have to surrender their arms and concede to forming  military coalition with the aim of defending and protecting Libyan citizens. Anything short of this would render all their efforts leading to this point in time, useless.


This article can also be viewed here

Human rights in Zimbabwe

04/05/2011 00:05

A few weeks ago, Zimbabwe made headlines for yet another public display of gross violation of human rights. At least 45 citizens who run human rights organizations and/or publicly defend human rights have been unlawfully detained. Even though, 39 of these have been released, the rest could face the death penalty if convicted.  For over a decade or so, the nation of Zimbabwe has been crippled by one catastrophic humanitarian crisis after another, and the situation appears to be worsening.   It goes without saying that a country that respects human rights thrives politically, economically and socially. It’s easy to understand the political and social benefit of observing human rights, but the economic advantage might be not be as apparent.


Granted democracy is just one aspect of human right, but is also the most basic depiction of a government’s commitment to uphold the rights of its citizens. Its contribution to economic development, albeit contentious, given that some economies have survived under despotic leadership is not inconsequential.  Absence of peace and human rights will most certainly lead to an uprising, or political instability, and the resources that would have otherwise been plugged into the economy are spent on maintaining stability. Whilst some economies might benefit from a military industrial complex in times of war, Zimbabwe doesn’t have that privilege. The blatant abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe is appalling and needs to be addressed. Many nations seem to have forgotten the simple basics; hence the various revolutions in the last couple of months. Happy people do contribute to the growth of an economy – believe it or not.


So much can be said about Zimbabwe as a country.  Its history and politics have been nothing short of despotic and frustrating. In 2002, Robert Mugabe passed the infamous land reform, a legislation that stripped all white farmers of their land titles and authorized police forces to literally kick all farmers, their kin off their land. Zanu, the then ruling party promised to restore the acquired land from over 800 white farmers to landless blacks in Zimbabwe. Consequently, a considerate number of those who lost their land and possession were taken to military camps where they were unlawful detained, beaten, and abused for several months. Redistribution of property to the poor is admirable, but there is no question that violent seizure of land from those who rightfully own it is a violation of human rights. Additionally, the last two presidential elections have been characterized by violence, mass killings, unlawful detainment and mysterious disappearances. Again, it is no secret that Mugabe and his associates instigated these violations. Because Mugabe was not willing to give up power, the electorate event ended with a global agreement to power division, with both the ruling and Democratic Party to sharing the political mandate. This nation has probably done just about everything to frustrate other members of the African Union, not to mention that the economy of Zimbabwe has been plagued with inflation for over a decade.


Brian Orend, one of my favorite commentators and authors on human rights defines a right as “a justified claim on someone or some institution for something, which one is owed.” Every human being is entitled to the rights and freedoms provided for by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and every nation that ratifies this document is bound by its stipulations. Human rights are universal and equal for everyone, and not only do we as human beings have a claim on those rights, but the government as an institution is obliged to respect and protect those rights. One of the many rights legislated by the declaration is the right to free expression without interference.  To strip citizens of their right to voice their opinions and stand up for the rights of others, is a loud declaration of tyranny. On April 6th 2011, Abel Chikomo, director of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, was charged with running an illegal organization. Mr Chikomo claims that these allegations hold no water because organizations registered under the common law associations are supposed to be exempt from registration under the PVO act. These charges are baseless and are a ploy to further frustrate and violate the rights of the people in the nation.


Forming a legal charity organization that is focused on defending the rights of others is an exercise of one’s freedom of expression – an internationally recognized right. Therefore for the government to unlawfully detain citizens who are only seeking to enjoy their rights is pure madness. It is disappointing when leaders of a nation decide to violate the rights of the people they are meant to protect. As a member of the diaspora, I worry about nations that think they can get away with violating human rights, especially nations whose economies are struggling.


This by no means assumes that the big super powers of the world are not guilty of human rights violations; on the contrary, most super powers are guilty of the most heinous violations the world has seen (the holocaust, Nanking saga, Guantanamo Bay). However, some of these nations seem to have learned from their mistakes and they are keen not to suffocate the rights of the majority. Zimbabwe however has learned nothing from historical human rights violations, and apparently the government is turning a blind eye to present day events as well. While the rest of the world is literally fighting to protect and defend human rights (Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya Sudan), the Zimbabwean government is shamelessly and aggressively doing everything in their might to overshadow human rights! How can the economy possibly grow, if laws such as “land seizures – passed in 2007”, unlawful detention, unfair elections, violence and censorship of the press prevail? It is imperative that the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens are respected and honored. War and violence are not favorable for investment and development, and a commitment to respect all citizens is a step towards change.


In essence, it is laughable for a sane democratic leader to willingly harm the citizens he/she is meant to protect.  Article 5 of the UDHR stipulates that:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Of course punishment and retribution are necessary elements that uphold the legal system. However punishment for “unjustifiable crimes” is preposterous, especially in the absence of a fair legal system. The fact that the death penalty is considered as punishment for citizens who stand up for human rights is not only ironic but wrong on so many levels. Assuming that the arrested individuals get a chance to fair trial, on what grounds can the crime of “forming a legitimate political organization” be justified in the courts of law? But as with everything else, the legal system in Zimbabwe seems to be taking a back seat.


Zimbabwe has a chance to rise up from the ashes and right the wrongs that have been committed. However, change is inconceivable in any nation, if  a)the leaders of that nation don’t recognize the problems that face them, b) are indisposed to do anything about them, c) continue to promote their own desires above those of the citizens they are meant to serve. The principles of human rights are simple. The need to respect and defend even the most basic rights is an assumed obligation of every democratic leader, especially those who recognize and adhere to the legality of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


This blog can also be viewed here


Will sanctions work on Iran?

04/10/2009 23:57

For a while now, the US government has been using diplomacy to resolve a nuclear standoff in hopes that the Iranian government will comply. So far, things haven't worked out brilliantly, and now the Obama administration is contemplating using sanctions against Iran.

It was disclosed a few weeks back that Iran has a secret uranium enrichment facility, something that President Obama has referred to as "a configuration inconsistent with peaceful intent". Iran was expected to fully comply and cooperate with the UN nuclear inspectors following the Geneva meeting on Thursday October 1st between Iranian leaders, the US and other five major powers.

The sanctions will target Iran's dependence on gasoline imports and insurance firms that underwrite the trade. 

Do you think these sanctions will be effective, or will the US soon resort to war against Iran?


Wrongful Convictions.

11/03/2009 22:02


Over the years, there have been different cases of wrongful convictions, some of which have resulted in executions, while other victims of wrongful convictions have lost huge chunks of their lives serving prison sentences. In most cases where the court got it wrong, it was often because they convicted the accused based on the word of a given expert, rather than verifying/evaluating the evidence before them.

In Canada, such many cases have risen over the last few years. In 1970, David Milgaard was found guilty for the murder of a nurse in Saskatchewan, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He spent 23 years in jail, and was later cleared in 1992. In 1991, James Driskell was found guilty for the murder of Perry Harder in Winnipeg, but results from forensic science later stated that none of the hairs found belonged to James. He was released on bail in November 2003. In 1994 William Mullins was found guilty for the rape and murder of his 4 year old niece. In later events, it was determined that William was in fact innocent, and the evidence provided by Charles Smith- a pathologist was false. William was release on bail in 2005.

Charles Smith has been accused of giving false testimony in court in 20 other cases. He however hasn’t been arrested, or been legally punished for these crimes. Wrongful convictions are a violation of one's human rights. To be accused for a crime that you didn’t commit is bad enough, but to be arrested and locked up, based on the word of someone, without any profound evidence is outrageous. Error is to human, and sometimes experts do make mistakes about things. But to think that a trained pathologist would hide evidence, give false reports and lie in court is completely unacceptable. Many people have been punished for perjury over the years. Why should smith be an exception? Hiding significant evidence is obstruction of justice, why should he be an exception? Why should innocent people have to suffer and pay for a crime they didn’t commit?

Do you think that punishing those responsible for wrongful convictions would reduce miscarriages of justice? And how should such persons be punished? Would a jail sentence be in order? Or should they simply lose their licence to practise whatever it is they do?

For more information, please visit:

Death Penalty in Iran

07/03/2009 16:11

As many of you probably know, Iran implemented a new law in July 2008 extending the use of the death penalty to "online crimes". This category includes - bloggers(especially on freedom of speech and religion, minority rights), websites that promote corruption, prostitution, and apostasy!!! Originally the death penalty applied to such crimes as slurring Islam, and drug trafficking.

Anyone think this is completely ridiculous? Should people be executed for online blogging? And although prostitution and corruption are inherently wrong, are they monumental crimes deserving of execution?


Death Penalty

19/02/2009 03:51

Last year, the UN called for a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty world wide. There has been an ongoing campaign against the death penalty for years. Many human rights activists are against the use of the death penalty, because it is inhuman, a violation of one's right to life, equality, recognition, among other things. As of december 2008, at least 137 countries have abolished the death penalty in their states. Do you think it's a human rights violation to use the death penalty? Do you think Criminals forfeit their right to life when they commit murder? Should the death penalty only be applied to certain crimes/offenses? Do we owe a duty to the rest of society by executing murders?


For more information, visit:


Crisis in Gaza continues

04/02/2009 21:14

First blog: yikes...

I just want to know what the rest of you think about the current crisis about the Gaza Strip! 

The conflict in Gaza continues, and many children and civilians have been pulled into this mess, and many have lost lives. Is it a human rights question? Should we even be concerned with what is going on down there, or not? What do you think could be done to resolve this conflict?

More information on this conflict can be found here:

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