In troubled homeland, 'it's over' for Harkat

posted on August 04, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: Derek Puddicombe
Source: TheOttawa Sun Online
URL: [link]
Date: July 31, 2004

Mohamed Harkat says deportation to Algeria would be a death sentence. "If they send me back to Algeria, it's really a dangerous situation," he told the Sun. "In Algeria, it's over."

After making his way to Canada with dreams of a better life, Harkat was arrested in 2002 under a rarely used section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act -- the first step in the deportation process.

Now, the 35-year-old is afraid that he'll be forced to return to Algeria, a country that has a long history of violence. Where, over the years, thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their homes.The one-time French protectorate was reborn after throwing the French out in 1962. Algeria then became a one-party socialist state and an active recruiting ground for mujahedeen guerrillas -- a group Harkat is alleged to have been a member of -- to fight in the Afghan-Soviet war.

At the end of the war in 1989, many of the ex-mujahedeen returned to Algeria and founded a Taliban-style movement. When elections were cancelled by the Algerian army in 1991, war broke out between the state and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) -- another group Harkat is alleged to have belonged to.

The GIA has used terror with a ferocity on a par with that of al-Qaida. European victims are counted in the hundreds. Algerian victims are counted in the thousands.

derek.puddicombe at ott dot sunpub dot com