Saturday 19 April 2014

THE SECRET TRIAL 5 - Review By Greg Klymkiw - HOT DOCS 2014 - Legacy of Canada's Thinly Veiled Fascists. This chilling, important documentary that details Unconstitutional Incarceration is a HOT DOCS 2014 MUST-SEE

The Secret Trial 5 (2014) Dir. Amar Wala ****

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Before we take some time to consider Amar Wala's chilling and important motion picture The Secret Trial 5, which details the Canadian government's horrendous abuse of five men who were incarcerated for spurious and most likely racist reasons, let us consider Stockwell Day. He ultimately plays a large role in this film since he held the lofty Minister of Public Safety position during a crucial time in the lives of these men, their families and, frankly, all of Canada.

Stockwell Day was an avid supporter of the idiotic security certificate, a 50-year-old immigration tool that can imprison non-Canadians living in Canada for reasons of - ahem - national security. Evidence is never fully revealed, trials are held in secret and the real hope is that those arrested under them, will agree to just go back to whatever country it is they came from.

Unfortunately, since the security certificate became an anti-terrorism tool in Canada after 9/11, people arrested under their auspices would have been committing suicide by agreeing to scurry back. We're talking about political refugees here. Going back meant, and still means, torture and execution. Besides, these were people who'd already made lives here with family, friends, bright futures and contributing to the fabric of Canada's multicultural society.

In the film, however, we're treated to numerous instances of Stockwell Day defending the use of the security certificate and even finding ways to get around a Supreme Court decision that these tools were (and are) constitutional. The bottom line for those like Day and his ilk is that these people are under arrest, stripped of their freedom and pretty much have to rot until they make the "right decision" and bugger off.

Stockwell Day, an avid sportsman, preacher and believer in Creationism (Yup, mankind walking with the dinosaurs) was the Minister presiding over the horrendous incarceration of these five men at a time when they needed a champion in that portfolio instead of an enemy. Then again, this was the same man who suggested that legalizing abortion could lead to child abuse. quotes Day from the Calgary Herald with the following tidbit:

"If you can cut a child to pieces or burn them alive with salt solution while they're still in the womb, what's wrong with knocking them around a little when they're outside the womb."

On homosexuality, the same source quotes Day from the Edmonton Journal with the following nugget of wisdom:

"Homosexuality is a mental disorder that can be cured by counselling [and is] not condoned by God."

Day also expressed that sex education might lead to teen pregnancy:

"There is a growing body of literature suggesting that, as sex education becomes more comprehensive, there is a corresponding increase in sexual activity."

These five guys never had a chance.

Watching this stunning film, I was actually feeling ashamed to be Canadian. That our country could be governed by the likes of Day and the other fascists currently in power is simply beyond the pale. We watch, helplessly, as the film details the abuses these men suffered. Adil Charkaoui, was incarcerated for 21 months and forced to live under house arrest for four years - WITHOUT CHARGES. Hassan Almrei was in jail for seven years, plus forced into three more years under house arrest - WITH NO CHARGES LAID. Mahmoud Jaballah was working as a principal in a Scarborough school when he was arrested, then incarcerated for six years and continues to live under house arrest - AGAIN, NO CHARGES WHATSOVER!!! Mohamed Harkat spent a relatively breezy 43 months in jail and has lived under house arrest since 2006!!!!! Guess what? No charges. The fifth individual, Mohammad Zeki Mahjoub, chose not to participate in the film, but we learn that he was imprisoned for seven years and has continued to live under the strictest house arrest since 2007.

The house arrest is especially harrowing to experience while watching the film. For an individual to be forced to suffer the indignities the film details is yet another aspect that made me ashamed to be Canadian. The aforementioned non-participant in the film has publicly requested to be returned to prison, insisting the cruel and unusual suffering under house arrest is worse than incarceration in a jail. What the film details here in the house arrest of the other participants is indeed, so sickening, it's almost impossible to blame him.

Sometimes, the importance of a film can take precedence over its importance as film art. Such is not the case here. Wala's picture is meticulously researched, surprisingly balanced (given its cinematic activism) and superbly crafted. But most of all, it IS an important work. On the eve of yet another Supreme Court challenge to the unconstitutionality of security certificates that could hopefully result in the release of Mohamed Harkat, every Canadian needs to see this film and raise the hugest ruckus imaginable.

In fact, audiences all over the world need to see this film. It's proof that IF a so-called benign democratic stronghold like Canada is willing to engage in such fascist activities, imagine just how horrendous the whole wide world is becoming with respect to the thug-like imposition of Orwellian measures to keep everyone in their place.

The Secret Trial 5 premieres at Toronto's Hot Docs 2014. For ticket info, contact the festival website HERE.