The B.C. Civil Liberties Association wrote today to the Canadian and Afghan governments to express its deep concerns about the case of Mr. Sayed Perwiz Kaambashk, an Afghan citizen recently condemned to death by an Afghan court, according to reliable media reports. The death penalty was imposed, reportedly, as a punishment for Mr. Kaambashk’s having downloaded and circulated an article from the internet that was deemed an insult to Islam. The BCCLA urges the Afghan government to intervene in this matter and release Mr. Kaambashk.
Jason Gratl: “This action by the Afghan judicial system brings together two of the worst aspects of oppressive governance: the suppression of free speech and the death penalty. The Afghan people deserve better on both fronts.”
At the same time, the BCCLA has corresponded with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging him to express to the Afghan government Canada’s opposition to the use of the death penalty to punish expression of unpopular or offensive views. The BCCLA asks that the Canadian government join with the BCCLA and other civil liberties and human rights advocates around the world in calling for Mr Kaambashk’s release.
This matter is particularly urgent given the fact that Canadian troops are in combat in Afghanistan supporting the Karzai government. Canadians have been assured this military mission is worth all its attendant sacrifices because is supports democracy and human rights in Afghanistan. While taking no position on the debates within Canada about the Afghan mission, the BCCLA does say that the reasons advanced for supporting the mission make it imperative that Canada speak out when the values that justify Canadian military action appear to be in danger from actions taken not by our opponents but by our allies. The BCCLA urges immediate and decisive action on this matter by both the Canadian and Afghan governments.