By Ken Stone
On September 28, Meng Wanzhou, Chief Financial Officer of Huawei Technologies and permanent resident of Canada, was forced to make yet another appearance in court in Vancouver where she faces possible extradition to the United States. The charges she faces if extradited include seven counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit both, plus conspiracy to defraud the US, all of which carry possible sentences of more than one hundred years in a US federal penitentiary, plus heavy fines.
To date, Ms. Meng has been under house arrest in Vancouver for twenty-two months.
This judicial action against Meng is unjust, politically motivated by the US and is being cynically used by the Trump administration to drag Canada into a trade war and a new Cold War with China. Canadians should be very concerned and should demand that the Trudeau government of Canada drop the extradition proceedings against Meng and release her at once.
Meng’s arrest was unjust because she committed no crime in Canada. Rather, her company stands accused by the US of violating the country’s unilateral, and therefore illegal, economic sanctions against Iran. In 2018, it was the Trump administration which abrogated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, the Iran Nuclear Agreement). The was several years in the making before becoming enshrined in 2015 as an international treaty in UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The Trudeau government applauded the agreement when it came into effect in 2016.
The importance of the ten-year agreement was that it likely averted a pre-emptive military strike by the US (supported by Israel) against Iran, while, at the same time, it provided the means by which to remove a regime of economic sanctions which had been imposed by the UN Security Council.
Donald Trump made it clear as early as the 2016 US election campaign that he did not like the JCPOA and thought he could wring more concessions out of Iran. Following the election, the Trump administration failed to follow through on removing some of the US’s coercive economic measures against Iran, although the IAEA certified time after time that Iran was in compliance of its commitments under the JCPOA.
Finally, on May 8, 2018, Trump abrogated the treaty and announced that the US would restore some of its previous economic sanctions and even impose further sanctions on Iran in what has today become a campaign of “maximum pressure.”
The US regards itself as an exceptional state that is not subject to the rules of international law and routinely tries to apply the principle of extraterritoriality. For example, it has taken to court several European banks such as Deutsche Bank, the largest bank in Germany, and BNP Paribas of France, as well as corporations like the Chinese ZTE, all of which tried to skirt the US sanctions on Iran. The fines levied against them by the US were enormous, thus making examples of them in front of the whole world. As a result, no European-based transnational corporations or banks are currently willing to break the de facto US blockade on the Islamic Republic.
The result for the people of Iran is severe: life savings vanish as the value of the national currency plummets, prices of basic commodities are rising dramatically, there’s widespread unemployment due to the lack of spare parts and markets, and medical supplies are scarce, despite supposedly being exempt from economic sanctions but which require international monetary transfers to arrange.
The US attempt to extradite Meng Wanzhou marks the first time it has ever tried to extradite an executive of a corporation, rather than just fine the corporation seen to defy its unilateral and illegal economic sanctions on Iran.
The US indictment/arrest warrant against Meng was approved by a court in New York State on Aug 22, 2018, and the US tried unsuccessfully following that date to pressure many countries through which Meng travelled to arrest her. Every single country refused until Meng arrived in Vancouver on December 1, 2018 and Trudeau slavishly and hypocritically acceded to the allegedly “urgent” US extradition request, despite the fact that his government continues to support the JCPOA.
On December 6, 2018, President Trump declared he might release Meng if he secured a favourable trade deal with China. He also told John Bolton that Meng was “a bargaining chip” in his negotiations in his trade war with China.
The arrest and extradition proceeding have contributed to a major deterioration in Canada-China relations. At various times following Meng’s arrest, China, which is Canada’s second-largest trading partner after the US, banned importation of Canadian canola, pork, and lobsters. This has severely affected the livelihoods of thousands of Canadian farmers and fishers who depend on the export of these products to China.
Cross-Canada campaign to free Meng Wanzhou
Understanding that the Trump administration is trying to draw the Trudeau government into its campaign to vilify China, to disrupt international cooperation, free trade and multilateralism, all of which is rapidly leading to a new cold war and possibly to actual military hostilities; and recognizing now that it’s entirely within the discretion of Immigration Minister Medicino and in accordance with the rule of law for him to end extradition proceedings against Meng, the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War announced on September 29 the start of a comprehensive, grassroots, public campaign to free Meng.
The Coalition made three demands of the Government of Canada:
- Cease extradition proceedings against Meng and release her immediately.
- Protect Canadian jobs by permitting Huawei Technologies Canada to participate in the Canadian deployment of a 5G internet network.
- Initiate a long-overdue foreign policy review to develop an independent foreign policy for Canada.
The Coalition also launched a parliamentary petition to free Meng Wanzhou under the sponsorship of MP Niki Ashton of the New Democratic Party. According to the rules of the House of Commons, if the petition garners at least 500 signatures in 120 days, Ashton will formally introduce the petition in the House, forcing the Trudeau Government formally to respond.
The campaign will also include virtual public meetings, virtual visits to MP’s office, letters to editors and op-ed pieces, and hopefully a Cross-Canada Day of Action on December 1, 2020, the second anniversary of Meng’s arrest.
People who interested in supporting this campaign are urged to contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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