Friday, April 03, 2009

Our shameful, dangerous government

The Conservative government has refused Abousfian Abdelrazik the travel documents that he requires to come home to his family after being exiled for six years.

Abdelrazik is a Canadian citizen, and a victim of Canada's program of extraordinary rendition that landed him in a Sudanese jail in 2003 while he was visiting his ailing mother. He was tortured, although Foreign Affairs apparatchiks tried to claim that his scars were self-inflicted. But he was eventually released by Sudanese officials, who stated that he had done nothing wrong.

CSIS, which appears to have gotten him into trouble in the first place, is now loudly protesting that it did nothing of the kind, and has given him a clean bill of health. Ditto the RCMP.

He is presently living in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum. He was told last year that he would be issued travel documents if he could find an airline to fly him home. He did. The government then demanded a fully-paid-up ticket from the destitute Abdelrazik. Anyone who helped him pay for it, however, would face up to ten years in jail. We bought him his ticket anyway.

Then our Minister of Foreign Affairs, the "Honourable" Lawrence Cannon, announced a few days ago that Abdelrazik would have to get himself off a UN "no-fly" list upon which some unaccountable, paranoid American official had requested that he be placed. Asking this of a destitute man in Khartoum was an act of pure sadism. It is legally unnecessary for him to be removed from the list anyway, since UN regulations explicitly permit a person on it to return to his country of origin.

The rule of law in Canada is now officially dead. If any citizen--and I don't give a damn whether his name is Abousfian Abdelrazik or Bob Smith--can be summarily deprived of his rights by the fiat of a government minister, we're all in serious trouble.

supposedly innocent until proven guilty, has never faced charges, let alone been tried for anything. But the Harper government has sentenced him to exile, a penalty that doesn't even exist in Canadian law. This government is flagrantly in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees any citizen the right to enter and move freely within Canada.

"Canada's New Government" doesn't care. It considers itself above the law and beyond the law, as it breaks the law. It is counting, I believe, on the acquiescence of Canadians in its on-going illegal vendetta against our fellow-citizen. After all, Abdelrazik is the wrong colour, and he worships the wrong God. And his name...well, it just doesn't sound "Canadian," does it?

But make no mistake. If the government can bypass due process to deprive Abousfian Abdelrazik of his civil rights today, it can go after Bob Smith tomorrow. And unless we nip this in the bud right now, there will be nobody left to stand up for him. Or you. Or me.

Let Stephen Harper, Lawrence Cannon and your own MP know how you feel. And get involved. Because they only do what we let them do.

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