When Bill Blaikie, MP rose in the House of Commons and noted the work of Peace Brigades International
As Peace Brigades International, a global human rights organization founded on Grindstone Island (on unceded Algonquin territory) on September 4, 1981, approaches its 40th anniversary, we recall notable moments in our history.
Maclean’s has reported that Karen Ridd, a 28-year-old from Winnipeg, joined Peace Brigades International and went to El Salvador in February 1989.
“As a volunteer, she received free room and board and about $60 a month for the often dangerous work of keeping watch over Salvadoran trade unionists and others whom the government and right-wing death squads consider subversive.”
“Suspected by Salvadoran authorities of aiding leftist rebels against the U.S.-backed right-wing government, [she] was abducted [on November 20, 1989], along with six other foreigners [four of whom were also PBI volunteers], by national guardsmen and later physically and verbally abused by the Treasury Police, known widely for their brutality.”
The Winnipeg Free Press adds: “The Canadian embassy obtained Ridd’s release, but she promptly went straight back into the prison to demand — and get — the release of her friend, [Colombian PBI volunteer] Marcela Rodriguez Diaz.”
On November 21, 1989, Member of Parliament Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg Transcona-NDP) rose in the House of Commons and stated:
“Mr. Speaker, I am sure I speak for all members of the House when I express relief that Karen Ridd from Winnipeg, someone who is working in El Salvador with Peace Brigades International, was released yesterday by the Treasury Police who had taken her into custody.
True to the spirit of the work of Peace Brigades International, we noticed that Karen refused to be released unless the Colombian woman who had been arrested with her was also released.
The work of people like Karen and Peace Brigades International, people who go to Central America to provide an escort service which is designed to protect Salvadorans who may be under threat of death or kidnapping, is truly in the spirit of Canada’s peacekeeping role. These are people who are real peacekeepers, who put themselves, their bodies, between the victimized and the oppressors, in this case the Cristianni government.
I think it is about time the Canadian Government showed the courage of some of its citizens like Karen Ridd in El Salvador and put itself, diplomatically, politically and economically between the United States, its puppet regime in El Salvador, and the people of El Salvador.”
Bill Blaikie was a Member of Parliament from 1979 to 2008, then a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 2009 until his retirement in 2011.