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(en) Canada, Refugees on rotating hunger strike and camping out for 3 nights at IRB offices in Montreal (text, photos and audio)

From No One is Illegal Montreal <noii-montreal@resist.ca>
Date Fri, 10 Dec 2004 14:50:31 +0100 (CET)


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-- Refugees camping out in front of Immigration Canada offices for 3 nights and 4 days
-- Protesters burn documents to protest "racist and incompetent" IRB
[There are 18 photos to accompany this article, available at:
http://gallery.cmaq.net/Refugee-camp-out-at-Montreal-IRB
Article available at: http://www.cmaq.net
An audio interview with one of the organizers of the protest is available
at: http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=10589]
MONTREAL (December 9, 2004) -- At least two dozen refugee claimants,
members of the Human Rights Action Committee (HRAC), have been camping
outside the Montreal offices of the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB)
since this past Tuesday. They will remain on their camp-out until the
evening of December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.

The protesters have also been maintaining a rotating hunger strike, for at
least 24 hours each. Their actions are aimed to raise awareness about the
unjust practices of the IRB, and the potential deportation of hundreds of
refugee claimants from India in the coming months.

The HRAC is comprised of self-organized, mainly Punjabi-speaking,
refugees. The protesters at the IRB range in age from 24 to 70. All the
hunger strikers are refused refugee claimants who personally face
deportation.

The HRAC's main demands include an end to deportations and the
regularization of all non-status people in Canada. As well, they are
demanding specific changes in the refugee-determination process, including
a refugee appeal division, an end to single-judge panels.

Currently, a single judge determines whether a claimant is a refugee or
not, and there is no appeal on the merits of a claim, despite promises by
the federal government to establish an appeals division in 2002. As part
of the protest, the HRAC is highlighting the "racist and incompetent"
practices of IRB judges, and were naming specific judges who were
notorious for their rejection of refugee claims.

To denounce the behavior of certain judges, the protesters burned various
articles and reports documenting human rights abuses by the Indian police
and government in the Punjab. Their action was meant to highlight how some
judges don't even bother to read the extensive documentation that support
refugee claims.

The rotating hunger strike and camp-out began on Tuesday morning, and
demonstrators have slept overnight outside the IRB since then. Two large
mattresses have been placed beside the building, as well as dozens of
heavy blankets to keep the demonstrators warm in the sub-zero winter
weather.

The Human Rights Action Committee's rotating hunger strike and camp-out
follows many months of protests, lobbying and media work on behalf of
hundreds of failed refugee claimants and illegal immigrants in Montreal
and Toronto. They have demonstrated outside of both Prime Minister Paul
Martin's and Immigration Minister Judy Sgro's constituency offices
multiple times, and have met with dozens of Members of Parliament, as well
as collecting thousands of names on a petition.

The HRAC is part of the Solidarity Across Borders network in Montreal,
which brings together self-organized, directly-affected refugee groups and
individuals, and their allies, in a common campaign for justice and
dignity for all immigrants and refugees. Solidarity Across Borders and the
HRAC will be planning more actions and activities in the coming months.

--> To get in touch with the Human Rights Action Committee:
hrac@sympatico.ca or 514-952-2279.

--> To get in touch with the Solidarity Across Borders network in
Montreal: noii-montreal@resist.ca or 514-859-9023.
Text by JBS
Photos by Kumar and Singh
Audio by Samira Rahmani
================================
* [No One Is Illegal is a member group of the antiauthoritarian Anti-Capitalist Convergence of
Montreal.]


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