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From: "renee boje" <rboje@hotmail.com>
Subject: Renee Boje responds to Minister Cotler's decision to surrender her to the US
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2005 21:42:27 +0000

June 24, 2005

Dear Minister Cotler,

I am preparing a response to your 19 page list of reasons for deciding to surrender me to the US Federal authorities, but it is taking me longer than I had planned because of the heaviness that has weighed upon my heart since I was told by my lawyer that your decision was to grant the US extradition request to hand me over to the American Federal officials.

I am a peaceful, non-violent woman. I am not a criminal. My only alleged crime in America was that the US Drug Enforcement Agents say they had eye witnesses who saw me "watering and moving marijuana plants" at my friend Todd McCormick's home on the day of the DEA raid of his state approved medical marijuana garden in California. These Drug Enforcement Agents hardly had any evidence on me at all. They do not have video tape supporting their accusations or a signed or recorded statement by me. They actually lie in their affidavit describing their account of what happened on the day of their raid, stating that I admitted to tending to Todd McCormick's plants upon arrest, which is completely false.

My lawyer and I submitted an affidavit to you describing my own account of what occurred to me on the day of the raid. When reading through your decisions, I noticed that you paint a picture of me being guilty of what the US prosecutors are accusing me of, which I found to be utterly unfair. It seems to me that you decided to ignore my affidavit, but instead to take the Drug Enforcement Agents word over mine when rendering your decision about my extradition and in light of the fact that you were made aware that I would not be given a fair trial if I was extradited to the US. This defies decency in my opinion.

As we have explained in our submissions to you, I would be placed into the custody of a violent prison system immediately and that is where I would stay while awaiting trial at the US Federal Court. You also know I  would not be allowed to bring in medical marijuana as a defense at my "trial", which means I would wind up in Federal prison for decades of my life as a result of the "guilty" verdict that I know awaits me if I am ever returned to America.

Your decision fails completely to take into account the US Supreme Court decision on Angel Raich which disallows any medical defense for marijuana in US courtrooms. This has resulted in this weeks recent raids of long standing San Francisco medical clubs by federal authorities and the persecution of activists, care-givers and patients is only expected to intensify. Please see related links:

The cruel and inhumane punishment that would be forced upon me simply because I would not agree to cooperate with the US authorities in their effort to incarcerate my friends Todd McCormick and Peter McWilliams is too unbearable to imagine. Todd McCormick suffers from bone marrow cancer and the late Peter McWilliams suffered from AIDS and cancer. I did not want any part of helping to imprison these two seriously ill men for doing something that I believed in, researching the medical potential of marijuana. I witnessed first hand what an effective anti-nauseant cannabis was for my friend Peter McWilliams who used it in order to keep a cocktail of AIDS medications in his system on a daily basis. The doctors told Peter that his AIDS virus would soon take his life and the virus eventually caused him to have to rely on a wheelchair in order to get around. I believe Peter's life was prolonged due to his use of cannabis because without it, he would have not been able to stomach the harsh nauseating effects that many of his daily AIDS medications caused. I also witnessed how cannabis allowed Peter to relax, elevated his mood and spirit and seemed to improve his over-all well being and enjoyment of life. After the DEA arrested Peter, his legal right to use medical marijuana was taken away from him. He was urine tested on a daily basis. I watched Peter's health seriosuly deteriorate after this. He would take a bucket with him to court to throw up into, while his lawyer plead with the court to allow him to use the medicine that was saving his life. The court refused to give him back his right to use marijuana and Peter died one evening alone in his apartment after choking on his own vomit. I hold the US federal prosecutors and the US federal judge who denied Peter his life saving cannabis responsible for his death. I believe strongly in the healing power and potential of medical cannabis and I do not believe I should be sent to prison for my association with this healing herb.

As you know, Todd and Peter were writing a book about medical marijuana and I was hired to illustrate their book. Everything they did was in compliance with their own state's laws concerning medical marijuana. While working on Todd and Peter's book, I learned the medical benefits of Marijuana and what an incredible amount of potential it has as a healing herb. I was hired by them as a free lance artist fresh out of college after receiving my degree in Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in California. It is amazing to me now that choice to illustrate a book for a legal medical marijuana research garden has resulted in the US Federal authorities wishing to incarcerate me for the mandatory minimum of 10 years to life in a violent Federal prison. The punishment certainly does not fit the alleged crime and as a Justice Minister I had faith that you would recognize this.

The ominous dark dead end that awaits me in the US is the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life in a US Prison for Women in Downtown Los Angeles, which was condemned by Amnesty International as being the worst women's prison in America due to the extreme violence that women must endure there. What is terrifying about ending up there for me, is that I know I will be retaliated against and punished for speaking out about the sexual violence that is being forced upon women in US prisons today. As we pointed out to you, over 50% of the guards watching women in US prisons today are now men. Please see related link: http://hrw.org/reports/1996/Us1.htm

Like the women who spoke out for the Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the UN reports, I believe I will be tortured into silence. And, like them, I will have nowhere to turn, because as you were made aware of in one of our many submissions my lawyer and I made about the US Prison system to you, women now have no one left to document the horrific human rights violations and the cruel and inhumane punishment being inflicted upon them. After the human rights organizations released their reports, all media and all human rights organizations have been forbidden from entering federal prisons for women and all of the women who participated in the reports were punished further. Some were given lengthier prison sentences, some lost visiting rights and are no longer able to see their friends and family and some were punished with further sexual and physical abuse. Please see related link:

These women are being silenced, as I would also be silenced. The possibility that I may end up enduring rape and torture by US male prison guards with nowhere to turn for decades of my life is like a death sentence for me. I know that would kill my spirit and I shudder to imagine the darkness that awaits me there. Please see related link: http://hrw.org/reports/1996/Us1.htm

This morning, while my son slept, I laid down beside him and gazed upon him in awe of of what a beautiful little boy he is inside and out. I was taken aback by the amount of love I felt for him and my eyes welled up with tears as the haunting thought returned to my head that this may be one of my last cherished moments I will be sharing with my son.  I cannot believe that my son and husband and I might not be able to look forward to a future together now.

Throughout my life nature has always been a comfort to me in a spiritual and emotional way. I think because I feel so safe in the presence of nature I have been able to heal a great deal of sadness there. With this in mind, I have been spending time in the forest, since I got your decision,  just letting my tears flow. This has been a healing release for me because I have had to hold so much in emotionally since learning of your decision in order to be strong for my son and in order to get the important points out to the media when I am being given the small window of opportunity to do so.

As you know, public awareness is such a huge part of my case because we must now prove to the Court of Appeals that it would "shocks the conscience of Canadians" to send me back to the US. It was very challenging for me to face so many cameras before entering the Supreme Court house to surrender myself into custody the other day and then again as I was released on bail. It took all of my strength just to speak and not become emotional because of the heaviness of the reality of my situation. I held it together so that my son would not be aware that something scary was taking place for his mommy. He and I are so connected that when I feel an emotion, it seems that he often feels that same emotion and I did not want him to know that I was afraid. I know that he did feel fear now because when he watched himself on the news later that evening, he said "Shiva's crying... Shiva's scared", as he pointed to himself on the television screen.

I am heart broken that you did not show my son compassion and that you did not feel his rights as a Canadian citizen should be considered. He deserves to grow up with his mother and if I am surrendered to the US authorities, he will be forced to grow up without his mother to raise him. This will have a devastating effect on his over all well being.

I guess I was a fool to believe in your ability to make a a fair and just decision due to your current title, Minister of Justice. I don't feel you showed me one ounce of justice in your entire 19 page list of reasons to surrender me to the US authorities. I realize you are under a great deal of political pressure from America to cooperate with them and surrender me to their custody, but I still had faith that you would be compassionate and that you would consider the human lives who's fate was in your hands carefully. My family and I are more sorry than you can imagine that you did not do this. We are now carrying our collective heavy burden to the Court of Appeals in the hopes that they will view me with compassion and look upon me as a human being, rather than a means to pleasing the US Government and a way that Canada can keep good relations with them.

My only hope for freedom now lies with the Canadian Court of Appeals and my family and friends and I are all praying that they will show me some justice, by allowing me to remain here in Canada where I am safe and free from harm.

Please look forward to my in-depth response to your list of decisions to surrender me to America.
Renée Boje

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