Date: Aug 17, 2003
Did you know the government of Canada, using a "security certificate" can declare any refugee or permanent resident a threat to Canada, have them arrested, held without charge or bail, and not allow either that person or their lawyer to see the "evidence" (the basis of a secret trial)?
Did you know on the basis of a secret trial, in which neither you nor your lawyer can see the evidence, you can then be deported to a country where you will likely be arrested, tortured, and murdered?
Did you know if a court upholds the security certificate against you,
there is no appeal?
Did you know this process can occur on the word of CSIS, the spy agency whose dishonesty, illegal acts and incompetence, known for years, have again resurfaced with the bungled Air India investigation?
This sounds like something out of a scary spy novel, but this is in fact
the reality for a number of families in Canada, all of them Muslim, whose loved ones, never having been charged with or convicted of committing a crime, have been held without charge, or bail, for years. Five men currently behind bars have served a collective total of 94 months in prison, without knowing the reasons why.
Their names are:
- Muhammad Mahjoub (married, with three children, held since June, 2000)
- Mahmoud Jaballah (married, with six children, held since August 2001. He "won" against a prior certificate, but CSIS issued a new one,
admitting that they had no new evidence)
- Hassan Almrei (single, held since October 2001)
- Mohamed Harkat (married, held since Dec., 2002)
- Adil Charkaoui (married, with one child, another child expected
summer 2003, held since May)
According to Amnesty International, all of their lives are at risk if
deported from Canada.
Mourad Ikhlef was deported from Canada on a security certificate to
Algeria, despite concerns he would be killed. He has disappeared.
Mansour Ahani was deported from Canada on a security certificate to Iran, despite concerns he would be killed. He too has disappeared.
You should know their names, because an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. You should know their names, because unless we speak up and stop this, your name may be the next on a flyer like this (part of proposed legislation would give the government the right to strip you of your citizenship, again on secret evidence).
You should know their names because they have suffered cruel and unusual punishment. You should know their names because their families and friends have experienced the ordeal of separation by concrete and steel bars, and harassment at the hands of CSIS and the RCMP.
You should know their names because our silence, our comfortable lives in which we don't protest or speak up against injustice, have allowed this process to go on.
The security certificate trials are only the tip of the iceberg. A report released in May, 2003, by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), reported that in "hundreds" of instances, people in Canada are being visited for interviews by security forces without warrants, and taken away for interrogation.
Although the full extent of Bill C-36 [so-called anti-terror legislation hurriedly passed by Parliament in 2001] was not implemented in these cases, it has been used as a threat to encourage voluntary interviews by citing the risk of preventative detention allowed under the Act. Victims of such police conduct have been afraid to come forward publicly for fear of further retaliation.
"In this great city of Toronto we have our own Guantanamo Bay [illegal
detention camp run by U.S.]" Federal Court Judge Andrew Mackay concluded in May 2003. But Mackay and other judges have not had the courage to refuse to go along with this medieval process. So it's up to you and me:
What you can do:
1. Get informed. For more information, contact the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials, c/o Homes not Bombs, at P.O. Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0, (416) 651-5800, [email]
2. Invite a speaker to your place of worship, school, community centre.
3. Write your MP and ask how, in a democracy, secret trials can be taking place (contact us for sample letters)
4. Help the families of the disappeared with legal and support costs.
5. Get on the "come to court" e-mail list to know when hearings might be occurring.
6. Refuse to be afraid. The secret trials are only occurring because of
the large amount of anti-Muslim fear and racism in the media and in our culture at large. Work against racism and religious intolerance.