By The Canadian Press - Saturday, February 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
CALGARY – As she was driving to a rally to raise awareness about violence…
CALGARY – As she was driving to a rally to raise awareness about violence against women, Amanda Lindhout started to have doubts about her plan to speak publicly for the first time about how she had been raped and tortured while being held captive in Somalia.
“I just didn’t know if I was going to have the courage to do it,” she said Friday.
“Those are words that I have never said in public before, that I have said only in the confines of my therapist’s office and with close friends and family. So for me, just like for any woman that has experienced this kind of abuse, to stand in front of people and say that publicly and really own that experience was extremely difficult for me to do.”
By Michael Petrou - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 10:14 AM - 15 Comments
Cell phone video has been posted of Iranian police beating student protesters at Tehran University last June and leaving their bloody and unconscious bodies in a heap.
Dozens were detained and subjected to further abuse. At least five were murdered. There names are: Fatemeh Barati, Kasra Sharafi, Mobina Ehterami, Kambiz Shoaee, and Mohsen Imani. Continue…
By Lianne George - Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 11:40 AM - 1 Comment
One President needs a footstool, another President writes a note, and will someone please rescue Amanda Lindhout?
Phelps gets smoked
At the Santa Clara Grand Prix in California last Sunday, Vancouver’s Brent Hayden finished the men’s 100-freestyle race in 48.44 seconds, a meet record, beating eight-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps by a full half-second. “I was really excited,” Hayden told the Canadian Press. “Michael is such a great competitor and every time I get up and race him, it’s such an honour.” Phelps—newly mustachioed, and recently back after a three-month suspension by USA Swimming for getting caught smoking marijuana on film—won two of his four races at the meet. “I’m ready to go home and sleep in my own bed,” he said.
Here’s your visa, Mr. Rae. You’re not welcome.
Last week, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae was turned away at a Sri Lankan airport, allegedly for being a Tamil Tigers supporter and a “security risk”—and an Ontario resident may be to blame. According to the Toronto Star, Irangani de Silva, a Sri Lankan expat who lives in London, Ont., wrote an opinion piece in the June 8 issue of The Island, a major Sri Lankan newspaper, in which she counselled Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona to revoke the visa that had been issued to Rae for a three-day visit. She also denounced Rae for having suggested in the Commons recently that Canada ought to look into human rights violations committed by Sri Lankan officials over the course of the bloody 25-year civil war between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority. “We are sure that [Rae] will return with a damning report on the government of Sri Lanka and push for war crimes investigations, publish media reports that there is discrimination, etc.,” de Silva wrote. Granting a visa to Rae, she said, was an “act of foolishness.” In Sri Lanka’s state-owned Daily News, the anti-Rae vitriol continued after his departure. One columnist argued that Rae is pandering to the large faction of Tamil expats he represents in Canada “who are not just vocal but openly violent in their support for the cause of terrorism in Sri Lanka.” In his statement, Rae called the charges made against him “absurd” and “a lie, pure and simple.” Continue…
Foreign Affairs: pursuing all channels to protect Canadians, as long as it doesn't involve leaving the embassy compound
By Michael Petrou - Monday, May 25, 2009 at 10:17 PM - 2 Comments
Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout has been held captive in Somalia since August. In January, her Somali colleague Abdifatah Mohammad Elmi, was released. The CBC’s David McGuffin tracked him down in Kenya, where he revealed that no one from the Canadian government has been in touch since his release.
Foreign Affairs, as per usual, said it is pursuing the case through all appropriate channels but offered no details. Apparently it feels that talking to the man who spent some six months with Lindhout and her kidnappers wouldn’t be useful or appropriate.
I wish this suprised me. Unfortunately, this chasm between Canada’s rhetoric and action when it comes to protecting its citizens abroad is not new. As I wrote last year, despite making several chest-thumping statements about how it wants to bring the Iranian government officials who tortured and murdered Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi to justice, Canada refused the help of an Iranian dissident who had first-hand knowledge of her abuse, and hasn’t bothered to talk to Shahram Azam, the doctor who examined her and now lives here.
By Jonathon Gatehouse and Nicholas Köhler - Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 12:00 AM - 8 Comments
The inside story of how Albertan Amanda Lindhout found herself being held for a US$2.5-million ransom
The online reviews make Mogadishu’s Hotel Shamo sound almost pleasant. “The rooms are large, with air conditionned, wi-fi and electricity 24 h day, [sic]” a Kenyan visitor wrote last December. “The restaurant is extremely decent, and serves lobster when available at the fish market.” And above all, notes the entry, the hotel is “relatively safe”—not a small consideration for travellers to Somalia, a country that stopped functioning so long ago it now qualifies as a “post-failed” state.
Amanda Lindhout, a 27-year-old freelance journalist from Sylvan Lake, Alta., and her friend Nigel Brennan, a 35-year-old Australian photographer, checked in on Aug. 20. They spent two days scouting for stories in the former capital—chasing reports of a roadside bomb aimed at African Union peacekeepers, interviewing shopkeepers at the Bakara market about the almost daily mortar attacks from Islamic insurgents. Then early on the morning of Aug. 23, the pair crammed into a hotel-owned Toyota Land Cruiser for the journey into even more dangerous territory, a camp that houses some of the estimated 400,000 people displaced by the fighting in Mogadishu.
The trip to Afgoyee doesn’t take long— the sprawling refugee shantytown is just 20 km to the northwest—but it is outside the zone controlled by the grandly named Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Somalia’s notional authority. So, at the Sarkus checkpoint on the city’s edge, Lindhout and Brennan bid goodbye to their two AK-47-toting guards, dressed in TFG uniforms, but employed by the hotel for $10 a day. Another security “team” (read members of a different militia) were supposedly waiting for them at the next roadblock, just 1.5 km down the highway. The journalists, their guide, the hotel driver and another local man who hopped in to show them the way disappeared en route. Lindhout had travelled to Somalia hoping to sell stories about the deteriorating security situation and burgeoning humanitarian crisis to networks in Canada and France. Her only television appearance so far has been in a grainy video her captors released to al-Jazeera last week. Dressed in a red abaya, and surrounding by masked and armed men, the Albertan called on the Canadian and Australian governments to work for her and Brennan’s release. A communiqué read by one of her captors called for an end to foreign aggression in Somalia. But the demands transmitted through other channels have been anything but political—US$2.5 million in cold, hard cash.
The video was released by a group calling itself the Mujahideen of Somalia, but according to the clan leader who has been negotiating with the kidnappers, ideology has not entered into the discussions. “They are not Shabaab,” Dahir Farah says by phone from Mogadishu, referring to the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militia who are the TFG’s main military rivals. “They are not another faction. They are bandits.” Farah, a well-known figure in Mogadishu, says he first heard from Lindhout’s captors on the day of the abductions. Their initial demand was for US$5 million, a sum that he says he convinced them was too high. Despite media reports to the contrary, the negotiator says he has been unable to speak directly with any of the hostages, but has been assured that they are being well looked after. However, Farah is frustrated by what he perceives as a lack of urgency on the part of the Australian and Canadian governments. The Aussies, through their High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, have flatly refused to pay a ransom. And Farah claims he has heard nothing from Canadian diplomats. “These journalists, they are in very much danger. Your governments, they must take action as soon as possible. Trust me, these kidnappers are not good people.”
Maclean’s has obtained a cellphone number for the men who are holding Lindhout and Brennan. But the magazine decided against contacting the group at this point, for fear of jeopardizing the safety of the captives, or ongoing efforts to free them. Last week, Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith wrote to his media asking for restraint in their coverage. No such demand has been made by the Canadian government. In fact, in sharp contrast to the Australians, it took Foreign Affairs in Ottawa more than three days to respond to Maclean’s request for their input on the matter. Among the initial concerns expressed by Rodney Moore, a department spokesman, were potential violations of Canada’s Privacy Act, and the possibility of adverse media coverage. Ian Burchett, the director general of communications for Foreign Affairs, says the government is “working with all channels to seek further information about the case, and [the hostages’] welfare and early release.” But he declined to comment on Farah’s allegation of diplomatic indifference. “It’s a very sensitive case,” says Burchett.