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September in Review

Pressure mounts to free Tarek and John, Indigenous blockades interrupt extractives, scientists stand up

by Media Co-op Editors

Banner at Montreal protest demanding freedom for Tarek Loubani and John Greyson. Photo by Tim McSorley
Banner at Montreal protest demanding freedom for Tarek Loubani and John Greyson. Photo by Tim McSorley
Stand Up for Science rally in Ottawa. Photo by UO GSAÉD
Stand Up for Science rally in Ottawa. Photo by UO GSAÉD

London, Ontario, physician Dr. Tarek Loubani and Toronto filmmaker John Greyson remained in prison in Cairo, after their arrest in mid-August. “We’ve been held here since August 16 in ridiculous conditions: no phone calls, little to no exercise, sharing a 3m x 10m cell with 36 other political prisoners, sleeping like sardines on concrete with the cockroaches; sharing a single tap of earthy Nile water,” Tarek and John wrote in a letter. The day they were arrested, according to the letter, they witnessed the deaths of at least 50 people. There are an estimated 3,000 political prisoners who have been jailed in Egypt since the coup. A campaign is underway to demand their release, which included activities at the Toronto International Film Festival and a demonstration at the Egyptian consulate in Montreal.

Almost 200 unjustly jailed migrants are on a hunger strike after being moved from the Toronto West jail to the Central East jail, two hours outside of Toronto. “My wife and four daughters used to see me once a week, but they can’t because this is so far and transportation is expensive,” Eric Kusi, who is originally from Liberia, told the Toronto Star.

Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services promised to change the way it treats jailed women who are mentally ill following a human rights complaint filed by a woman who was jailed in segregation for 200 days instead of being treated for her illnesses. ”I hope that others after me won’t have to go through this and that people who have experienced this will come forward with their stories,” said Christina Jahn, who filed the complaint.

Also in Ontario, the provincial government announced a $35 million settlement with survivors and former residents of Huronia Regional Centre, an asylum where over 2,000 adults and children were buried in unmarked graves and many others suffered abuse and torture. The settlement comes after a class-action lawsuit, which had originally sought damages of $2 billion.

Members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation blocked the logging operations of two companies due to concerns about moose habitat. “I think this is the tip of the iceberg. There is a sentiment in the community that there is a lot of overharvesting throughout the whole area,” Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross told West Coast Native News.

North of Tsilhqot’in territory, the Tahltan Central Council celebrated the withdrawal of Fortune Minerals from their territories. The company’s decision to leave comes after an ongoing camp by members of the Tahltan Nation who believe strongly in a vision for the Klappan region that does not include the extractive industries.

The struggle against logging in Grassy Narrows is soon to be heard before the Supreme Court of Canada, which granted leave for members of Grassy Narrows to appeal. The legal battle has been going on for more than 10 years, and a blockade is ongoing, but the decision to grant an appeal represents an important step. “The Supreme Court would agree with the lower court decision, that the provincial government doesn’t have any jurisdiction and that they can’t take away our treaty rights. Hopefully the Supreme Court will agree as well,” said Grassy Narrows Chief Simon Fobister.

Seventy-five people in Waterloo held a demo at a city council meeting to voice their opposition to the reversal of the Line 9 pipeline.

Organizers in Kent County, New Brunswick, signalled that they are prepared to return to the frontlines and continue to block SWN Resources seismic testing operations should the company attempt to return to the area. “We need people to come and stand with us and say that this is a last warning. [Seismic testing] is the real lead-up to hydraulic fracturing, and we’ve been doing this for almost three months,” Louis Jerome, from Gesgapegiag First Nation, told the Halifax Media Co-op. Two people were arrested as the blockade got restarted, and a police cruiser struck a local woman.

Hundreds rallied on a rainy Saturday afternoon in support of the Women’s Housing March in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Nearby, staff, users and supporters of Insite, the only supervised safe injection site legally operating in Canada, celebrated the operation’s tenth anniversary.

An investigation by the Toronto Star revealed that TO police continue to disproportionately target black people and other people of colour, stopping them for questioning and searches and adding information about them to a database. “Looking solely at young black male Toronto residents, aged 15 to 24, the Star found the number who were ‘carded’ at least once between 2008 and 2012—in the police patrol zone where they live—actually exceeds by a small margin the number of young black males, aged 15 to 24, who live in Toronto,” reads the Star report.

Thousands of scientists held demonstrations across Canada against the muzzling of government scientists and the de-funding of research. “There is a real place for scientists in political debate and in public policy for the simple reason that all public policy is really just science,” said Dr. Katie Gibbs, an organizer of the rally, in an interview with DeSmog Canada.

Over a dozen members of the fascist Golden Dawn party were arrested in Greece, including the group’s leader and three members of Parliament. The arrests came amid heightened tension, following ongoing demonstrations against the fascist party, who have repeatedly provoked attacks on migrants, women and anarchists. Earlier this month, a Golden Dawn member murdered Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper, in Athens.

In Guatemala, a massacre in the Maya Kaqchikel village of San José Nacahuil, not far from the nation’s capital city, left 10 dead and 17 wounded. The government blamed gangs for the killings, but locals and survivors say police are at least partially responsible.

A series of attacks at a funeral in Iraq left 92 Shiite mourners dead in a single day. Violence has spiked in Iraq in recent months, in what the LA Times says is “a level of bloodshed not seen since 2008.”

While the Palestinian Authority and Israel resumed formal peace negotiations in New York City, Israel’s attacks on Palestinian youth continued. Five young men have been murdered by Israel since talks re-started in August. Clashes and demonstrations took place in various locations in Palestine to mark the thirteenth anniversary of the second Intifada.

Ontario’s Nepean Redskins football team announced it will be changing its name. The move came after mounting public pressure following a human rights complaint filed by Ian Campeau, a member of the Indigenous DJ crew A Tribe Called Red.

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