Sunday, November 27, 2011

Opening Remarks at Fundraising Dinner for Hassan Diab

On November 26, 2011, at a fundraising dinner for Hassan Diab in Ottawa, Yahya Abdul Rahman gave the following opening remarks.

"I would like to thank everyone for coming tonight. The purpose of this gathering is to lend our support to our brother and sister Hassan and Rania who are victims of what we consider to be a travesty of justice. We, who are involved in the social justice and peace movement, are of the firm conviction that, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'

In the case of Hassan we are reminded of our own vulnerabilities in which the state can wield its power over individuals and toss out all principles of fairness and justice. It is Hassan today but, if the system which has permitted this to happen remains in place, then it could very well be one of us tomorrow.

We are committed to the principle that everyone in considered innocent unless concretely proven otherwise in a court of law devoid of any outside political interference.

We also hold that everyone has the right to know the identity of their accusers as well as the evidence being used against them.

Furthermore, we hold the view that people have a right to a fair and speedy trial.

Without these principles in place then the security of all is in jeopardy. Thus, when we defend our brother Hassan we not only defend him, but we are also defending a principle which seeks to check the power of the state to arbitrarily arrest someone and use flimsy evidence to support their case.

In the absence of these principles society will descend into fascism and no one will be secure.

We don't want Hassan and Rania to feel they are alone in their struggle. We desire to form the bonds of human solidarity and let them know that their struggle is our struggle.

It was Helen Keller who stated that, 'Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other's welfare, social justice can never be attained.'

We hold this truth to be self evident and in this spirit open this evening's event."

-- Yahya Abdul Rahman, Ottawa, November 26, 2011