Urgent Action Message from the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada:
Almrei To Face Same Torture as Maher Arar if Canadian Government Has Its Way and Deports Him to Syria Within Two Weeks
Arar Speaks Out in Support of Hassan
Wednesday, November 26, 9 am, Court 7-2, 361 University Ave.
* Contact Minister of Immigration Denis Coderre (info. below)
In a sign that the Canadian government has learned absolutely nothing from the horrid kidnapping and torture experienced by Canadian Maher Arar in the dungeons of Syria, the federal government is now fast-tracking plans to deport refugee Hassan Almrei to Syria within two weeks.
A motion to stay the deportation will be heard in Federal Court, 361 University Ave., Courtroom 7-2, on Wednesday morning, November 26 at 9 am sharp. Supporters are urged to attend this crucial hearing.
The fast-tracking of deportation against Almrei is typical behaviour for Canadian immigration authorities, who have also targetted members of Montreal's various "non-status" Algerians, Pakistanis and Palestinians when those communities have organized themselves to stop these deportations.
Almrei, who has won international attention to his case and the wretched conditions in solitary confinement at Metro West Detention Centre with his recent 39-day hunger strike, would surely face torture and, possibly, execution, if he were returned to Syria. That's the well-founded opinion of three experts on the region as well as Amnesty International, all of which has been ignored by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
CIC has prepared travel documents, received clearance from Syria to "receive" Almrei, and is looking now to charter a private jet to return Almrei to an unspeakable future sometime within the next two weeks. They seem determined to keep him from having his bail hearing, where it will be obvious that he has an extensive community of support in Toronto which is more than willing to take him in if he's released from prison.
The fact that a secret trial security certificate against Hassan was upheld in the sham hearing in 2001 will certainly not endear him to Syrian authorities, who have been condemned as among the worst human rights violators on the planet. The CIC decision notes that "the general conditions in Syria shows that the human rights record of Syria is poor and that detention and torture are not uncommon. I see no reason not to accept this evidence." Yet the decision somehow manages to distort reality and claim Hassan is NOT at risk if sent there, despite the fact that he was granted refugee status in Canada in 2000 when he was found to be "in need of protection against persecution" by the Convention Refugee Determination Division of CIC.
In an apparent homage to the capacity of bureaucrats to exist in some parallel universe wholly unrelated to ours, the decision regarding Hassan's future comes up with this startling conclusion, one which flies in the face of the past month's shocking headlines about the Arar case::
"Mr. Almrei submits that his risk is increased because he has now been publicly identified as a refugee claimant and linked to a terrorist organization. Mr. Almrei notes that other persons suspected of involvement in terrorist organizations and returned to Syria -- particularly Mr. Maher Arar -- are alleged to have been tortured, killed, or have been detained indefinitely without charge. The totality of the evidence before me, however, is inconclusive as to Syria's treatment of persons suspected of involvement in terrorism."
(It should be noted here that there has NEVER been any proof that Almrei is involved in what has been deemed "association" with "terrorism.". But in the security certificate process, CSIS need not prove any facts that someone might be associated with an organization whose activities would make one inadmissible to Canada. Rather, they only need to find that there are "reasonable grounds to believe" someone MIGHT be connected to such an organization in the past, present, or future.
Upon a judge concluding the "reasonableness" of this potential association -- with secret "evidence" neither the individual nor the lawyer can see, much less challenge, because it is presented to a judge in secret -- the decision is then bumped up to be read as "conclusive" proof. Any reasonable person would conclude that a person tarred with this brush would face torture of the kind seen by Arar as well as other Canadians held overseas and tortured, such as Mssrs. Almalki and El-Maati (held in Syria and Egypt, respectively).
The deportation decision extensively relies on Almrei's association with Nabil Al-Marabh, someone tarred in newspapers post 9/11 as a terrorist kingpin, but who now sits in a U.S. jail on nothing more than a minor immigration violation, ALL allegations of terrorist association dismissed by a U.S. court.
There are numerous other allegations which would take up a fair bit of space to explain here, but they really don't matter at this point. What matters is that the Canadian government is prepared to send a sweet young man who has never been charged with, much less convicted of, a crime here in Canada back to Syria where he is certain to face torture and worse.
The document says that Hassan meets the "extraordinary circumstances" of the Supreme Court's Suresh decision, which said only in the most exceptional of circumstances can someone be returned to torture. But extraordinary circumstances would mean people who have actively committed genocidal acts and other horrors; Hassan's biggest "crime,". for which he has never been charged, seems to be helping someone get a fake passport.
As the immigration document concludes, "even were Mr. Almrei to be at substantial risk [of torture] if he is returned to Syria, the extraordinary danger he poses to the security of Canada requires that he not be allowed to remain in Canada."
This triumph of paranoia and racism, if allowed to go forward, will further deepen the stain of blood on the hands of Canadian officials, already in trouble over the Arar case and their refusal to bring home Canadian Abdulrahman Kadr, the 21-year-old released from the U.S.-run concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay in late October but repeatedly refused re-entry to Canada.
Stay in touch, come to court, and write letters to and call Coderre's office and call for an end to this murderous deportation order.
Denis Coderre, Minister
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1
Phone: (613) 957-0312
Fax: (613) 957-2688
In a positive development, Maher Arar, a Canadian tortured in Syria
and recently released to Canada, issued the following statement today,
confirming yet again our worst fears if Hassan is sent back to Syria:
"I have prepared the following statement in response to the numerous
requests I have received to comment on the case of Mr. Hassan Almrei.
I do not know Mr. Almrei and I do not know about the charges that have
been made against him. What I do know is that many organizations and
his lawyer have expressed concern that if he is deported to Syria, he
may face torture.
Given my experience, and what I lived through, and what I heard
happening to other people in prison in Syria, I believe Mr. Almrei would
face the same ordeal, if not worse. I still cannot believe that human
beings treat human beings that way in Syrian prison.
There is nothing that justifies sending people to countries where torture
Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada
P.O Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
(416) 651-5800, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.homesnotbombs.ca
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