[REPORT-BACK] Rally In Edmonton on December 10th

posted on January 06, 2005 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

Original author: Sarah Holland
Source: Alberta-Arab News
Date: January 5, 2005

Edmonton - As the world marked International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, human rights groups across Canada were fighting for the release of five Muslim men who are languishing in prison and could be deported based on evidence unknown either to them or their lawyers.

Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, Hassan Almrei, Mohamed Harkat and Adil Charkaoui have collectively spent more than 164 months in detention. They are lonely, confused and scared because they could face torture if sent home.

At a rally in front of the RCMP K Division Headquarters during the evening rush hour, supporters donned prisoner and lawyer costumes, and introduced the five men individually. The "defence lawyer" wore a blindfold and gag. Supporters also walked up and down 109th Street wearing sandwich signs and carrying banners that read, "No one is illegal" and "Stop secret trials and deportations."
A flyer circulated at a rally read: "The attacks on the dignity and rights of these men are part of a much broader attack on refugees and immigrants, very specifically Muslim and Arab communities. Standing up for the rights of the Secret Trial Five is a concrete way to confront the politics of racist fear, which is being used to justify expanding governmental powers and war policies."

The rally was organized by Stop Secret Trials and Deportations and the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism.

While the concern here is one of human rights, organizer Linda Leibovitz said the issue is also important locally because of Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan.

"She is the signatory [on the security certificates]," said Leibovitz. "She's here and was voted into her riding without anybody knowing she's the signatory for what people say is Canada's dirtiest secret. She receives evidence from CSIS and based on this evidence she can say, 'Yes, this person should be arrested.'"

The men's families and supporters are demanding the federal government take four actions:

. release the men be immediately, or allow them to defend themselves in open court with full disclosure of the case against them;

. do not deport them;

. abolish the secret trial security certificate process; and

. instruct CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Agency) and the RCMP to end their harassment and intimidation of people of Middle Eastern and South Asian heritage and/or Muslim faith.

Attempts to contact McLellan at her Edmonton office were unsuccessful.