Hassan Raza, his wife Sarfraz Kausar, and their children Rubab, 13, Mohsin, 12, Zain, 7, Ume Farve 6, Hassan, 4, and one-year-old Seema, took sanctuary in the Crescentwood-Ft. Rouge United Church in Winnipeg on Aug. 3, 2006 when they were threatened with deportation to their native Pakistan. The Shia-Sunni Muslim family fears they will face persecution if they are sent back. Given the sectarian strife between Shia and Sunni, this is a credible and reasonable fear.
The Razas wish to make Canada their home. The middle two children were born in the United States after the Razas left Pakistan in 1998 and sought asylum in the United States. They moved to Montreal in 2002 and came to Winnipeg in 2004 in search of better job opportunities and more affordable housing. The two youngest children are Canadians. It is only fair and compassionate that they be allowed to remain in Canada.
Many people in the Crescent-Ft. Rouge congregation (and others who are not involved in the church) have rallied to their side. Broader support is needed, and that is where you come in.
The family faces a deportation hearing in Winnipeg this Friday, Mar. 2 and is requesting letters of support from Canadians, urging the federal government to allow them to remain in Canada. I urge you to write an email indicating your support, and send it to the Raza family at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your letter will be presented along with many others at this hearing. Please do so without delay.
Much has been written about the Raza family and their struggle. A good source of information is at the Crescent-Ft. Rouge United Church web site.
The United Church, which has been supporting the family, advises letters be drafted with the following in mind:
- maintain a polite and respectful tone always
- ask the Minister of Citizenship & Immigration to make a compassionate intervention in the case of the Raza family to allow them to remain in Canada
- ask the Minister of Public Safety to grant a “stay of removal” and allow them to leave sanctuary without fear of being apprehended
- emphasize that there are six children – the two youngest (ages three and one) are Canadian-born citizens
- note that the family has been in Canada for four years, the father, Hassan Raza was employed and has a job awaiting his freedom and that the children of school age have been in school
- copy the letters to your own MP and to Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the House of Commons (you can get their contact information here).
In addition to sending a letter of support to the Raza family that can be presented at their hearing, letters to government ministers would be helpful as well.
The Hon. Diane Finley,
Minister of Citizenship & Immigration,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Phone 613-996-4974
A copy may be sent to Ms Finlay’s Constituency Address: 70 Queensway West, Simcoe, ON, N3Y 2M6.
The Hon. Stockwell Day,
Minister of Public Safety,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 Phone 613-995-1702
A copy may be sent to Mr. Day’s Constituency Address: 202-301 Main Street, Penticton, BC V2A 5B7.
I’ve spent a bit of time with Hassan over the past few weeks, helping him with his English and I’ve met his family. They are good and gentle people. I like them. I’m pleased and proud that they want to live here. With our support, perhaps they can. Please take some time to write your letters today.