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Sexism and assault in ‘Torontonamo’ jails brings more shame to G20

Human RightsFeminism

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In light of the massive human rights violations we saw in Toronto in the midst of the G20 summit, the RebELLEs movement is putting out a mass call to action, to denounce this unprecedented repression of political dissent in Canada and to stand in solidarity with those victimized by the state. But we must also look beyond this instance to the larger systemic oppression that our social movements encounter on a global level. The G20 is an institution working to expand global capitalism. It is founded on the centralization of power and patriarchal rule, a global system of domination that places profits over people and perpetuates the massive exploitation of marginalized populations, women, racialized peoples, and the environment.

For opposing the G20, we saw police threaten women with rape and gangbanging while in detention. We saw at least one woman sexually assaulted by a police “officer” and several strip-searched by men, in front of an open door where everyone could see. We saw trans folks being transferred back and forth between men and womens’ cells, while officers were harassing them about their gender identity. As many women and peoples of this world experience daily, we were robbed of our human dignity in what is now referred to as “Torontonamo.” This is a public display of the horrific and psychological violence women and the oppressed experience everyday.

Amy Miller, an independent journalist, has made her testimony public, disclosing her experience as a G20 political prisoner. She has spoken out about being detained, threatened with rape and “gangbanging,” being told she would never “want to work as a journalist again to cover a protest like this after we’re done with you [quoting police].”

There is no doubt the massive repression was, and still is, aimed at silencing our movements and attempting to undermine our resistance with criminalization, fear and trauma. But we stand strong. Meetings of solidarity with the arrestees are taking place everywhere, uniting the social movements in the denunciation of “Torontonamo.” With over twenty-five solidarity rallies, vigils and protests taking place in post-G20 Canada, in small towns and urban centers, our movements stand strong and state clearly that no amount of repression will break us and that to the contrary, we will unite and fight harder.

In the words of Miriam Nobre, coordinator of the World March of Women in a recent solidarity statement with the G20 resistance:

“The only possible solution is to defy capitalism, patriarchy and racism. We will march until all of us are free. We fight our battles in a context of repression, and criminalization of our social struggles all around the world. We see the use of sexual violence as a method of telling women that the public sphere is not for us. But we will not be afraid! Our response: it’s the reinforcement of feminist struggles all over the world.”

We will fight back.

Barbara Legault is coordinator of the PanCanadian Secretariat of the RebELLEs movement based in Montreal.

This article appeared in the September/October 2010 issue of Canadian Dimension (Ecosocialism).


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