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Apologize to Victims of Kissinger’s Torture, War and Genocide

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To: Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage


We believe you owe an apology to all the victims of the crimes of Henry Kissinger, many of whom were forced to flee to Canada as refugees from the terrorism he actively promoted from his perch at the White House. Many more never made it here because they were killed by carpet bombing, by death squads, by riot police, by prison torturers.

Indeed, today in Canada there are countless survivors of the worst human rights atrocities, crimes directly connected to the policies and decisions of Henry Kissinger. You have retraumatized them. You have insulted them. You have dishonoured them.

Why is it "an honour" to meet a man with the blood of millions on his hands? Would it be an honour for you to take a selfie with Kissinger-supported dictators like Pinochet, Suharto, Hussein, or the Shah of Iran? Where do you draw the line?

Why is it “an honour” to sit with a man who, in 1969, encouraged mass slaughter of Cambodian people with the order, “Anything that flies over anything that moves?” A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors "froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told... That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over."

Kissinger is a war criminal, and if you are unfamiliar with his history, do a quick search and realize how insulting you have proven yourself to the millions of victims of torture, genocide, and carpet bombing this man is responsible for. The fact that he has not been charged does not mean he is somehow innocent of this criminality; rather, it shows that we live in a world where the most powerful, especially if they come from the so-called “West,” are never held accountable by the laws they are supposed to uphold.

Kissinger’s involvement in war crimes and crimes against humanity from Vietnam, Laos  and Cambodia to Greece and Argentina, from Chile and Brazil to Angola and Iraq, are well documented in the works of Noam Chomsky, Seymour Hersh, Christopher Hitchens, Donald Freed, William Blum and others, including the Pike Report of the U.S. Congress.

To cite just one example, it has long been established that Kissinger was one of the key engines driving the coup which placed Augusto Pinochet as dictator of Chile in 1973. Kissinger’s arrogance towards Latin America was best revealed in his statement to the Chilean foreign minister Gabriel Valdes: “Nothing important can come from the South. History has never been produced in the South. The axis of history starts in Moscow, goes to Bonn, crosses over to Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the South is of no importance.”

Kissinger chaired the 40 Committee, responsible for approving all sensitive covert operations, including the campaign to overthrow and assassinate Chile’s democratically-elected President, Salvador Allende. Kissinger’s arrogance is reflected in his statement, “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.” 

A U.S. Senate investigation showed that, shortly after Allende was elected, Kissinger ordered a “cold-blooded assessment” of the “pros and cons and problems and prospects involved should a Chilean military coup be organized now with U.S. assistance.” In a meeting with Nixon, Kissinger, and the CIA director,  terms such as “make the economy scream”, “full-time job–best men we have”, and “$10,000,000 available, more if necessary” were used to describe efforts to overthrow Allende. One Nixon administration official, quoted in The Cold Peace, recalled: “Through 1971, plans for killing Allende became firmer. The talk of the bazaar was that ‘Henry [Kissinger] wanted it.’”

Kissinger saw a democratic Chile as a “contagious example” which could “infect” Latin America and Europe. As Secretary of State, Kissinger helped cement Pinochet’s position in Chile, and the resulting years saw unspeakable crimes committed against the Chilean people, including the torture, disappearance and murder of tens of thousands of students, labour leaders, writers, artists and anyone suspected of harboring democratic thought.

Kissinger was also a key supporter of the torture states which arose, with U.S. assistance, throughout Latin America in countries like Brazil and Argentina. Indeed, in 1979, facing mounting pressure from human rights groups such as Amnesty International, the Argentine military regime invited Kissinger as part of a P.R. tour. Kissinger told supporters of the military junta “that it was sometimes necessary for a government to suspend civil liberties in order to overcome organized terrorism,” though in that instance, the junta deemed any kind of protest, including the peaceful vigils of the Mothers of the Disappeared, as terrorism.

Kissinger whitewashed the torture states of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras during the 1980s. He paved the way for the genocidal invasion of East Timor. He supported the use of nuclear brinksmanship in the Middle East and Pakistan. He has supported the concept of a limited nuclear war.

His meddling in the affairs of the Kurds helped create the conditions that continue to plague the region today. As established by the Pike Report, in the early 1970s, the Shah of Iran (whose regime had one of the worst human rights records in the world), supported by Kissinger, hoped to use the Kurds to undermine the government of Iraq. The Nixon administration, under the guidance of Kissinger and the CIA, provided the Kurds with weaponry but, according to a Congressional report, “none of the nations who were aiding them seriously desired that they realize their objective of an autonomous state.” One CIA memo stated clearly there was never any intention of helping the Kurds achieve an autonomous state, and that “Neither Iran nor ourselves wish to see the matter resolved one way or the other.” The Pike Committee investigating CIA abuses concluded “Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise.” As a result of these actions,. at least 35,000 Kurds were murdered, and 200,000 Kurdish refugees fled to Iran, but neither Iran or the US gave them adequate humanitarian assistance. “In fact, Iran was later to forcible return over 40,000 of the refugees and the United States government refused to admit even one refugee into the United States by way of political asylum even though they qualified for such admittance.” 

Kissinger also supported the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. In a National Security Study Memorandum, Kissinger concentrates on South Africa as a strategic asset, not as a criminal apartheid regime. “The whites are here to stay and the only way that constructive change can come about is through them. We can, by selective relaxation of our stance toward the white regimes, encourage some modification of their current racial and colonial policies...We would maintain public opposition to racial repression but relax political isolation and economic restrictions on the white states...”

Kissinger famously said, “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

Ministers Bains and Joly, millions around the globe bear the scars of torture, the wounds of carpet bombing, and the seared memories of loved ones lost. Many of them can connect their suffering directly to decisions made and carried out by Henry Kissinger.

You owe them an apology.


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