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 Whistleblowers Need Protection



by Hon David Kilgour
An event sponsored by the E.H.Johnson Memorial Committee of the
Presbyterian Church in Canada,
St Andrew's Church,
26 April 2009

Many Christians and practitioners of other faiths around the world espouse non-violence and oppose peace-making of any genre, so I should begin by stressing that what follows are my own views. Moderator Park put things well on this point from our denominational perspective a few moments ago.

It is well-known in this group that the founder of Christianity opposed violence. Even when he was about to be crucified, Jesus rebuked Peter who defended Him with his sword.

Korean Peninsula

I should stress too that members of the Presbyterian Church in Canada have done much good on the Korean Peninsula. In the national cemetery in Seoul, for example, is buried Rev Allan Hall, a minister of our denomination from Canada, who stood up for the dignity of the people of Korea against arrogant colonizers from Japan. It is thus not surprising that our denomination is already strong and growing across South Korea. Indeed, I understand from our Moderator that 25-30 percent of 45 million South Koreans are now practising Christians of various denominations.

In North Korea, our former Moderator Rick Fee made many humanitarian visits on behalf of the Food grains Bank of Canada, which has done much to deliver about $30 million in total in badly-needed food and medicines to the people over the years. Basic nutrition is an ongoing mammoth problem there, with children often being considerably smaller and frailer than they should be because of a lack of sufficient calories. Erich Weingarten, our speaker tonight, indicates that the level of malnutrition in North Korea is between 12-15 percent, rendering the country among the worst two or three on earth on this measurement. I think it is also true that the DPRK is probably now the worst-governed nation on earth.


Let me say a brief word Afghanistan, in which I believe 118 Canadians have now died defending its people as recently. My friend, Dr. V.P. Vaidik of New Delhi, did his PH.D. dissertation on Afghanistan forty years ago and he has observed the country carefully ever since. He loves Afghanistan and its people. Recently, albeit before the international uproar about the marriage law amendment, he wrote a rather optimistic piece about the country on March 21st, which you can access in full on the header page of my website ( under the section on Afghanistan.

A few weeks ago, he told some of us that he thinks more responsibility for defence and security should be assumed by regional peacemakers, including those from India and presumably Pakistan. He is also convinced that Afghanistan's own defence and police forces should be increased substantially to the 200,000-person range, with as many as possible unemployed young persons being recruited into them. I agree fully with much of what Ernie Regehr said a few moments ago, including the obvious point that all foreigners must show only respect at all times for the religion of Islam. Anyone who does not should be asked to leave Afghanistan immediately.

Last year, some of us took part in a conference with the Speaker of the Afghan Parliament, several deputies and officers of their Parliament. Personally, I came away encouraged by the commitment of Afghans to representative democracy, the rule of law and dignity for all Afghans.

No-one should forget that when the Taliban ruled the country I believe there were about 650,000 children in school--all of them boys. Today, there are evidently more than six million young Afghans in school--35% of them girls. Women are no longer stoned for speaking to men in public. Many more Afghans are working. The Taliban horrors depicted in the book/movie, The Kite Runner, are gone. Of course, most Canadians were deeply offended by the marriage law change, but it will hopefully be changed soon. Progressive Muslims around the world are as offended by it as are the rest of us.


In conclusion, I realize that no two historical situations-or countries-are the same. More than 500 Canadians gave their lives to keep South Koreans, so to speak, out of the hands of Kim Jung Il's father and China's Mao. More than 100 have died to keep Afghans safer from the Taliban. South Korea has become a model in terms of the rule of law, a strong economy, multi-party democracy, human dignity, freedom of religion etc. I believe that Afghanistan can become another success story too.

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