{Report-Back] Canada-Wide Day of Action Against Sec. Certificates

posted on December 16, 2004 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Original author: N/A Source: The Marxist-Leninist Daily URL: [link] Date: December 15, 2004 Protests Demand End to Security Certificates and Secret Trials

On December 10, International Human Rights Day, actions across the country demanded an immediate end to the use of security certificates and secret trials in Canada. The National Day of Action drew attention to five Muslim men imprisoned under security certificates who have waited a combined total of more than 174 months in Canadian jail cells without bail, charges or evidence being produced against them. These men are: Hassan Almrei, Syrian, held since October 2001; Adil Charkaoui, Moroccan, held since May 2003; Mohamed Harkat, Algerian, held since December 2002; Mahmoud Jaballah, Egyptian, held for nine months in 1999, cleared of allegations, held again since August 2001; and Mohammad Mahjoub, Egyptian, held since June 2000. Actions were organized in Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax, among other cities. In Ottawa, a statement calling for the outlawing of security certificates and secret trials was released to the press. The statement was endorsed by more than 300 organizations and individuals, including CPC(M-L) national leader Sandra L. Smith, NDP national leader Jack Layton, MP Carolyn Parrish, CAW president Buzz Hargrove, singer Bruce Cockburn and other personalities and citizens representing a wide spectrum of Canadian society."The security certificate process does not conform to a number of essential international legal standards," said Alex Neve, general secretary of Amnesty International Canada (English-speaking branch), at the press conference. "Justice and security will prevail only when we disallow violations of fundamental human rights such as arbitrary detention and torture, and instead institute fair proceedings. But the security certificate denies both justice and security," he said. "These secret trials may be Canada's worst dirty little secret," said Deborah Bourque, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. "This security legislation clearly comes from a fear-based government agenda that gives police and courts more power while integrating Canadian and U.S. policies on immigration," she added. "For many Canadian Muslims and Arabs, security certificates embody an arbitrary and non-transparent legal process that they never expected to find in a democratic country they now call home," said Riad Saloojee, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. "Muslims and Arabs have unfortunately been the most common casualties under this deeply flawed process," he said. At the Toronto action, Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada highlighted the increasing support for the campaign to end the use of security certificates and other measures that promote racist terror and persecution under the pretext of "fighting terror." Participants marched to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) office on Front St., carrying banners and placards which read: "Stop Secret Trials," "Human Rights are Universal," "Free the Secret Trial Five," among other slogans. In front of the office, a skit was enacted based on the public reading of a book which illustrated who the real terrorists are (George W. Bush and his allies, including Paul Martin). It is they who pose the real danger to Canadians and the peoples of the world, the skit emphasized, while the five men sitting in prison under security certificates have not harmed anyone. The skit also brought out how CSIS and other "security" institutions have an annual budget of $8.7 billion while the budget for affordable housing is only $1 billion. Participants demanded that the CSIS budget be re-allocated to build affordable housing and to other social and environmental programs. Mona Elfouli, the wife of Mohammad Majoub, denounced the Canadian government for unjustly keeping her husband in prison. She demanded to be shown the secret "evidence" that CSIS says it has and decried the fact that her children cannot enjoy a normal relationship with their father. She said that she will not rest until her husband is free. Ahmad Jaballah, the 16-year-old first-born of Mahmoud Jaballah's six children, also spoke. He pointed out that his father was freed by a federal court judge in 2000 based on evidence provided by a recorded conversation in which a CSIS agent threatened Mahmoud Jaballah in an attempt to get him to spy and inform on other Arabs and Muslims. Mahmoud Jaballah refused to do this. Ahmad said that CSIS did not like that his father was released and in August 2001 had him re-arrested. Ahmad said that this situation has been extremely hard on his family especially his brothers and sisters who cannot understand why their father is in jail. He said that his family will continue to fight until they get justice and thanked everyone for their ongoing support. Steve Watson spoke on behalf of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and pointed out the Canadian government has stated that the arrest and imprisonment of these five men does not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He then proceeded to read sections of the Charter which prohibited the violation of due process and the right to the security of the person. He condemned the government for these abuses and called on everyone to step up their struggle to free these victims of the CSIS security certificates. He demanded that the Canadian government not act like the Nazis did during the Second World War, jailing and persecuting innocent people. He further demanded that the government adhere to the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." One of the highlights of the event was a speech by Ashley Jane, a high-school student who spoke on behalf of a group of students who came to the action from Burlington. She said that it is unacceptable that these five men are being held in complete violation of their civil and political rights, without charge and denied bail. We must not allow this in Canada, she said. She called on all, especially youth, to get involved in stopping the use of security certificates and secret trials. "We must defend the rights of everyone. If any group's rights are denied, everyone's rights are denied," she said. The next action will be on in Toronto on December 31, New Year's Eve, to launch the "Free the Secret Trial Five by 2005" campaign. Gather at 12:00 noon at the CSIS office (277 Front Street West).