Wednesday, September 02, 2009

HARPER'S MESSAGE TO STRANDED MUSLIM CANADIAN CITIZENS OF AFRICAN ORIGIN: YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN





Quick, what do Omar Khadr, Abousfian Abdelrazik, and Suaad Hagi Mohamud have in common? They are Canadian citizens. They are Muslims. They are products of an Islamic cultural heritage. They are people of colour or semitic Muslims. They are from, or are members of families from Africa. They have found themselves in dire circumstances stranded in a foreign land, wrongfully accused, jailed, tortured and mistreated by the authorities. And they were all either ignored or abandoned by their government – the Stephen Harper government of Canada. I know, I know. Some of you will ask, what is a bad guy like Omar Khadr doing on that list? Well, he has yet to be proven guilty of anything in any judicial proceeding, and in our country we have a law that says one is presumed innocent until proven guilty – no exceptions, ifs, ands, might have beens, or buts.

Omar Khadr, the now 22 year-old Canadian born citizen and former child soldier, was born in Canada of Egyptian parents. He was picked up by the U.S. military 7 years ago - at age 15 - after a particularly vicious fire fight in an Afghanistan village. The facts of his incarceration and questioning by Canadian and U.S. authorities are long and sordid. He has been in military custody since, spending most of that time in Guantanamo facing accusations of war crimes and killing a U.S. soldier with a grenade. However, despite his years of imprisonment, mistreatment and torture, he has not been convicted of anything. Khadr is now the only Western citizen remaining in Guantanamo, the rest having been repatriated by their respective governments. The urgings upon Canada by Amnesty International, UNICEF, the Canadian Bar Association and other groups to extradite or repatriate Khadr to Canada have fallen upon deaf ears. And now the Harper government refuses to repatriate him despite a Federal Court order ordering it to do so. Instead the Harper government has decided to appeal the order. Mr. Khadr continues to rot away in Guantanamo with the complicity of the Harper government. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omar_Khadr

Abousfian Abdelrazik was born in the Sudan and was admitted to Canada as a refugee in 1990 after political turmoil in his home country. After setting down roots in Canada where he worked as a machinist Abdulrazik became a Canadian citizen and started a family in his new country. He returned to Sudan in August 2003 to visit his ill mother. Shortly thereafter he was arrested in Khartoum as a suspected terrorist and jailed for about one year. During the time that he was in jail the authorities tried to get him to admit that he was a terrorist. There are even documents indicating that Canadian authorities had requested his detention. After the hard year in prison in a Khartoum slammer - no doubt a very unpleasant place indeed - he was released. Because his passport had expired and he was on a UN no-fly list Abdulrazik was unable to come back to Canada. In April 2008, in desperation, he took refuge at the Canadian Embassy. At first, Canadian authorities refused to give him emergency travel documents. Then they changed their minds and issued the documents, but insisted he pay of his own ticket. When friends in Canada bought him the ticket, the government warned that any Canadian who gave money to buy the ticket could be charged under anti-terrorism legislation. In May 2009, after Abdulrazik’s lawyers sued the government, the Federal Court found that his Charter rights were violated and ordered the government fly him home. At the same time the judge accused foreign minister Lawrence Cannon of ignoring due process of law. Although the government considered an appeal, it finally capitulated and Abdulrazik is now back home in Canada. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abousfian_Abdelrazik

Most recently, there is the case of Suaad Hagi Mohamud. Mohamud is a Canadian citizen of Somali origin. She is employed with a courier company and resides in North York with her young son. After concluding a visit with her mother in Nairobi and about to board the plane bound for home, she was stopped by a Kenyan airline employee who she says asked her for a bribe. According to Mohamud when she refused to pay the bribe the employee accused her of being an imposter. Canadian authorities were quick to agree and cancelled her passport while the Kenyans laid fraud charges against her. Other forms of identification including a driver’s license did not budge either the Kenyans or the Canadians, the latter declaring that they had carried out “conclusive investigations” of her identity and that she was a fraud. She was in a Kenyan jail for 8 days and after her release on bail spent the next 3 months living in a seedy hotel awaiting her fate. Thus, she was stranded in Kenya, away from her son, her job and her home country. It took a DNA test proving that she was her son’s mother to convince Canada that in fact she was who she claimed to be. She is now home and has sued her government. See: http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/08/12/f-haji-mohamud-timeline.html

In the case of Khadr the Harper government that has not done for him what other western governments have done for their citizens in assisting them in getting out of Guantanamo. Furthermore, the Harper government is ignoring a judge’s order directing it to get him out of Guantanamo. The government's actions are especially egregious given that Khadr was a child soldier at the time of falling into U.S. military custody.
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The Harper government’s actions towards Abdulrazik have been reprehensible. It erected every road block it could to prevent him from returning to Canada – where, by the way, he has children - and had to be forced by a Federal Court order to help him get back to Canada.

The Mohamud case is entirely the responsibility of officials of the Harper government. They embraced a decision by officials of one of the most corrupt countries on earth and lied about having done “conclusive investigations” concerning Ms. Mohamud’s identity.

So, what does all of this tell us about the Harper government? The evidence is clear. The Harper government does not want these Canadian citizens back into the country. Why? No doubt one reason is to stroke its political base of lunatic right-wing rednecks and wing nuts.

Another credible reason is the Conservative immigration policy stressing the need for new Canadians to integrate. The Conservative government gives every indication that it does not believe that people such as Khadr, Abdulrazik and Mohamud can ‘integrate’ into Canadian society. In the mind of the government, such Canadians remain apart from a society of real Canadians. I can just hear some of its Neanderthal party members asking themselves, What kind of a real Canadian looks like they look, dress like they dress, or would even think about traveling to such places as Afghanistan, Sudan or Kenya?

To all Muslim Canadians of African or Asian stock, I have news for you. The Harper government is not your friend. They would just as soon you leave this country and not come back. Remember that when you vote in the next federal election.

4 comments:

John Prince said...

The Harper government is not your friend.

I suggest the above statement also applies to many of us 'whities' too. The Harper conservatives (Reform/Alliance have shown time after time that they are racist, bigoted, small-minded individuals who have no business running a country such as Canada, which (until recently) has always prided itself on being a tolerant open society that treated all citizens 'equally'.

God, I miss Trudeau!

Darryl Raymaker said...

Amen to that Johnny-boy!

SIMONE SANOUBANE said...

Amen to you gentlemen!!!

Simone Sanoubane

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