Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee Formed
February 1, 2008
A group of Canadians from all walks
of life have come together to form a new association, the Canada-Afghanistan
Solidarity Committee, united in a commitment to the principle
that as Canadians, we must honour our obligations to the cause of solidarity
with the people of Afghanistan.
Among those who founded this initiative
(see appended) are people from the Left, and people from across the
political spectrum, including a former Liberal cabinet minister and
former lieutenant-governor, and two former Progressive Conservative
cabinet ministers. Supporters include New Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives,
and people of no particular political affiliation, and are Muslims,
Jews, Christians, and atheists; authors, journalists, academics, gay
rights activists, student activists, Afghan-Canadians, and feminists.
The first public action of the Solidarity
Committee was to submit a statement to the Independent Panel on the
Future Role of Canada in Afghanistan, stating “The Committee's position
on Canada's engagement in Afghanistan, in sum, is this: We must stay.
Human rights are universal. The United Nations calls for and expects
Canada to remain dedicated to Afghanistan's reconstruction and to the
battle against terrorism there. We recognize that a robust military
engagement, with the UN's sanction and the consent of the Government
of Afghanistan, is vital and necessary.”
The full version of the statement is
available at: http://www.afghanistan-canada-solidarity.org/
The Committee notes in particular the
numerous polls suggesting that Afghan public opinion is highly favourable
towards the presence of NATO in Afghanistan, and there is little public
support for a return of the Taliban to ruling Afghanistan (please see
our website for a list of such surveys).
The CASC position concurs with the
assessment of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon: The troops-out
position is "almost more dismaying" than the opportunism of
the Taliban, and to call for a withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan
is "a misjudgment of historic proportions."
CASC believes that the report of the
Manley panel on Canada’s future role in Afghanistan is a well-considered
and fair assessment, and supports our recommendation that Canada must
not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan until a more secure peace
and prosperity has been realized in that country.
Says , Lauryn Oates, a founder of CASC,
and Vice-President of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan: “We
as Canadians need to ensure that our values are well applied to any
course of action we take in Afghanistan, and, like John Manley and his
fellow panelists, we recognize that a withdrawal of Canadian troops
from Kandahar would almost certainly lead to a total collapse in security.
This paramount point has been in large part missing from our debates
here in Canada. A Canadian withdrawal would contribute to conditions
that would lead to a civil war, the return of the Taliban to power,
and the further denial of the human rights of Afghans.”