Abousfian Abdelrazik is a victim of the post-9/11 madness that is corroding human rights in Canada. His case is yet one more reminder that our federal government is determined to continue to violate cherished rights and freedoms. His story is a cautionary tale and a call to action.
Mr. Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen of Sudanese origin, was arrested in Sudan, Sept. 12, 2003 in Khartoum while visiting his sick mother. The recommendation for his arrest came from the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, which had placed him and numerous other Muslims in Montreal under surveillance, following the arrest of Amed Ressam, the “millenium bomber,” in 1999.
He was imprisoned for 11 months, during which time he was tortured by his Sudanese jailers and interrogated on at least one occasion by people he identified as Canadian. He was rearrested in 2005 and held for an additional 10 months, during which he was interrogated by US FBI agents, and denied Canadian consular assistance.
Finally, in 2006, the Sudanese released him, saying they could not continue to hold an innocent man.
Since his release, he has been unable to return home because he was placed on United States and United Nations no-fly lists, despite having been cleared of all allegations by the Sudanese government and Canada’s own RCMP. While Ottawa allowed him to live at the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum, it has refused to provide a passport to replace the one that expired or travel documents.
Documents obtained by his supporters under the Privacy Act implicate CSIS in his arrest and show that the government is unwilling to allow him to return even though they know he is innocent.
Mr. Abdelrazik is in a legal catch-22 of the government’s design. They have refused to allow him to return unless he has an airline ticket. But because he is on US and UN no-fly lists, he is considered a terrorist, and hence anyone who contributes to buying his airline ticket is violating Canadian law and subject to charges under Canada’s draconian anti-terrorist laws.
Despite this, over 100 Canadians have made donations, and they are applying pressure to the federal government to issue the documents he needs to board the plane and return to his family in Montreal.
If you want to join in their efforts, or to learn more, go to Repatriate Abousfian Abdelrazik! Paul Koring provides an excellent summary of this travesty of justice in the March 5, 2009 Globe and Mail.
Extraordinary Rendition – Canadian Style
NDP MP Greg Dewar has referred to this case as “the first case of Canadian rendition” that he knows of. Whether it is the first one, or not, is not publicly known. But it certainly is not the only such case.
Maher Arar, abducted and transported to a Syrian torture chamber, was unjustifiably fingered by CSIS. In Dark Days, Canadian writer and human rights activist Kerry Pither describes how Arar, along with three other Canadian Muslims (Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin) were detained overseas and subjected to brutal torture. Pither writes: “They were all interrogated using questions from Canadian agencies — all were accused of links to terrorism but no evidence has been produced to back these accusations. All were eventually released without charge and returned to Canada.”
We cannot depend on our spooks and their political masters to own up to their crimes. Nor can we just blame it on the Tories. Hateful as their policies are, these are just a continuation of practices established under the previous Liberal government.
Canadians who are willing to tolerate the racial profiling, persecution and extraordinary rendition of Muslims will pay a heavy price some day. It is time to get rid of politicians who cannot or will not respect human rights and exercise some control over Canada’s intelligence service (an oxymoron, that!).
Project Fly Home
Encouragingly, over one hundred people across the country have joined together to buy Mr. Abdelrazik a plane ticket home, even though the Canadian government has made it a federal offence to directly or indirectly finance or collect money to support Mr. Abdelrazik.
The plane ticket strips away another excuse the government has used to prevent Mr. Abdelrazik from returning home. In December, the government stated in a letter to Mr. Abdelrazik’s lawyer that he must present a fully-paid-for plane ticket before Passport Canada would agree to issue an emergency passport. Mr. Abdelrazik’s passport expired while he was in prison in Sudan.
The flight leaves Khartoum on April 3. An emergency passport can take less than 24-hours to issue. The government has three weeks.
To get involved, or make a contribution to bring him home, contact Project Fly Home at email@example.com.