Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Abousfian Abdelrazik: we have work to do

From Project Fly Home:

(16 March 2009)

Count down to 3 April: Less than three weeks to hold government to its promise

Abousfian Abdelrazik is a Montreal man whose name may take its place among a growing list of victims of a Canadian version of 'extraordinary rendition'.

Internal government memos and other documents released under the Privacy Act reveal that, like Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin - all imprisoned and tortured in Syria on the request of the Canadian Security
Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the RCMP, as confirmed by the federal Iacobucci Inquiry - Mr. Abdelrazik was also jailed on the recommendation of CSIS, while on a visit to Sudan. In prison, he was beaten and tortured. In this horrific context, he was interrogated by CSIS officials complicit in his arrest.

Eventually released and cleared of all suspicion by Sudan, as well as the RCMP and CSIS, his many attempts to return home to Montreal have been blocked rather than aided by Canadian officials. Since the story became public in late April 2008, Mr. Abdelrazik has been living in 'temporary safe haven' in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum. (More background, including media coverage: www.peoplescommission.org/abdelrazik.php.)

Project Fly Home

In March 2009, in a mass civil disobedience action, over one hundred people joined together to buy a plane ticket home for Abousfian Abdelrazik, even though the Canadian government made it a federal offence to directly or indirectly finance or collect money to support Mr. Abdelrazik.

The group of contributors to the ticket, now almost 150 people, stretches from Vancouver to Iqaluit
to Newfoundland and reflects the groundswell of support for Mr. Abdelrazik and popular outrage and disgust at the treatment of him. Contributors include farmers, law professors, labour union representatives, artists, filmmakers, lawyers, workers, doctors, former Cabinet ministers, grandmothers, students and more. To date, the
government has not decided whether or not it will charge the group.

* See list of contributors at www.peoplescommission.org/files/abousfianMedia/FinalList.pdf.
* Video and audio from press conference announcing that the ticket was bought will be posted shortly at www.peoplescommission.org/abdelrazik.php.
* Open letter from James Loney (one of the contributors) to the MP in his riding: www.peoplescommission.org/files/abousfianMedia/JamesLoneyLetter.pdf

The plane ticket strips away another excuse the government has used to prevent Abousfian 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 3rd. An emergency passport can take less than 24-hours to issue. The government was given three weeks to issue the passport.

How you can help:

1. In order to ensure Mr. Abdelrazik's safe return to Canada, Project Fly Home is seeking public endorsements from organizations across Canada. Please send all endorsements to projectflyhome@gmail.com. Endorsers will be listed as "organizations supporting the public campaign to bring Abousfian Abdelrazik home to Canada".

2. Join the list of people who have contributed to the return flight at the risk of being criminally charged for collecting money to support Mr. Abdelrazik. Although the ticket is already purchased, additional contributions are being accepted and names will be added to the list of contributors: the money raised will pay for other campaign expenses and the remainder will be offered to Mr. Abdelrazik when he returns to Canada, as a tiny, symbolic reparation for the crimes and injustices that have been committed against him. To join, email projectflyhome@gmail.com.

3. Please send brief letters of solidarity to Mr. Abdelrazik at projectflyhome@gmail.com. These letters will be read to him in Khartoum.

Project Fly Home

Meanwhile, the wingnuts have raised their ugly heads at last. They've convicted Abdelrazik in absentia--and his supporters here as well. Another reason why the Conservatives must never, ever, be permitted to gain a majority.

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