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(en) Canada: No One Is Illegal-Montreal Newswire/Bulletin de Nouvelles, March 6, 2006

Date Mon, 6 Mar 2006 11:51:54 +0100 (CET)

MARCH 6, 2006 (1.3)
1) Demo: International Women's Day (March 8)
3) Public Consultation: People's Commission on Immigration "Security"
Measures (March 16)
4) Teach-in: Oppose "Guantanamo North" in Kingston, Ontario (March 11)
::::: ACTION :::::
5) Keep Gary Freeman in Canada!
::::: FEATURE :::::
6) (The Dominion) Bordering On Apartheid: Challenging immigration control
in Canada
::::: AUDIO :::::
7) (Indymedia) Ten Months in an Immigration Jail: A first-hand account by
Arash Aslani
8) (CBC Radio, The Current) Amnesty for Undocumented Workers?
::::: NEWS :::::
13) (CP) Grassy Narrows warns Weyerhaeuser, Abitibi against destruction of
14) (Toronto Star) Woman wins reprieve from deportation to Iran
15) (Toronto Sun) Cleared terror suspect wants to stay
16) (Edmonton Sun) Family prays for deportation stay
17) (New York Times) The Gospel vs. H.R. 4437
18) (Narco News) Former Braceros and Zapatistas Unite to End the
System that Beats Them Down

The No One Is Illegal News and Events Digest is a bilingual (English and
French) weekly selection of analysis, news and events, compiled by the No
One Is Illegal collective in Montreal. To subscribe or
unsubscribe, visit:
https://lists.resist.ca/mailman/listinfo/nooneisillegal-l; to
contribute, e-mail nooneisillegal@gmail.com -----


International Women's Day 2006
March 8th, 6pm (meet at 5pm)
Place Emilie Gamelin
Corner Ste-Catherine and Berri
(Metro Berri-UQAM)

--> Bring flags, banners and noise-makers!

Organized by the March 8th Action and Coordination Committee of Women of
Diverse Origins. For more information, please contact: The March 8th
Committee at (514) 342-2111.


PEOPLE'S COMMISSION on Immigration "Security" Measures

Thursday, 16 March, 7pm
Atwater Library
1200 Atwater (corner Ste. Catherine; Atwater metro)

The PEOPLE'S COMMISSION is being launched to provide a means for our
communities to examine the issue of "security certificates" and other
immigration security policies in depth and identify ways to address the
problem. A series of Public Consultations is taking place across Quebec
and Canada in order to explain the project, seek public
feedback, and encourage broad participation in the Commission. Come out
and join in!

+screening of "Guilt certificate" (short film by Alexander Kozminski, Clic
Focus, 2005)
+Faraj Nakhleh, President, Canadian Arab Federation
+Marie-Eve Lamy and Tatiana Gomez
and more!

*translation (english, french, spanish, arabic) *snacks *childcare


Detained for years without charge, held under secret evidence,
threatened with deportation to torture. This is a situation in which
immigrants and refugees can find themselves in Canada. This is the
nightmare which five men and their families are currently living in
Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal under the immigration "security

The ever-widening web of racist national security in the post 9/11 climate
has incarcerated, deported, and killed thousands of people as Western
states are waging a "war on terror" through militarization and occupation
globally and policies of restrictive immigration
domestically. As increasing numbers of people worldwide are forced to
leave their homes in search of minimal security, dignity and
opportunity elsewhere, governments in North America have responded with
new measures which exclude or marginalise many of those who
arrive on these stolen shores. At its most extreme, the national
security agenda is making arbitrary detention, extraordinary rendition and
secret and not-so-secret torture prisons seem normal, or at least up for

In Canada, security measures in the immigration regime have emerged as a
battle-front in the ongoing struggle of migrants and non-Europeans for
equality in Canada and in the fight against expanding government powers of
surveillance and control advancing under cover of the "war on terror".
Under immigration security measures, non-citizens are
denied their rights to a fair trial, to protection from arbitrary
detention and to protection from torture. Security certificates and
similar policies raise serious questions about how the principles of
equality, liberty, presumption of innocence and security of the person are
practised in Canada. They increase the power of government
officials over individuals. They raise important questions about the
future direction of our society.

The PEOPLE'S COMMISSION will provide a forum for popular voices to be
heard on this issue, especially the voices of people directly and
indirectly affected by these measures, and of people whose security
concerns have more to do with getting by than with undefined "national
security". The names of the Commissioners will be announced on 28
March 2006. The Commissioners will study existing reports, gather
information, conduct interviews, review new submissions and also hear
testimonies at three days of accessible, open Public Hearings (21 to 23
April 2006, at 2515 Delisle St., Montreal). All material under
review will be published on our website (though witness
confidentiality will be respected). A report giving the findings and
recommendations of the Commission will be published in mid-May and
distributed as widely as possible.

The PEOPLE'S COMMISSION would like your input! Come out to the Public
Consultation or contact us to find out the various ways you can
contribute to the findings of the Commission.

tel 1 514 859 9023

The People's Commission is a project of the Coalition for Justice for Adil
Charkaoui (http://www.adilinfo.org) and Solidarity Across Borders

The People's Commission has been endorsed by: l'Association pour la
défense des droits sociaux (ADDS), Black Coalition of Quebec, Campaign to
Stop Secret Trials in Canada, CAIR-CAN, Canadian Arab Federation (CAF),
Canadian Council for Refugees, Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW),
Communauté Catholique Congolaise de Montréal, Immigrant
Workers' Centre, Muslim Council of Montreal, No One Is Ollegal ?
Montreal, No One Is Illegal-Toronto, No One Is Illegal ?Vancouver, Ontario
Coaliton against Poverty (OCAP), Souers Auxiliatrices, the South Asian
Women's Community Centre, Toronto Action for Social
Change. ; Sponsored by: CKUT 90.3 FM, Council of Canadians, Inter
Pares, Soeurs Auxiliatrices


KINGSTON: Teach-in Against "Guantanamo North"

Is it necessary to deny people their most elemental human rights to
"guarantee" national security?

Detained for years without charge, held on secret evidence that the
accused does not have access to, threatened with deportation and
torture, this is the situation for five men from Toronto, Ottawa and
Montreal. Within the next month, four of these five men will be
transferred, far from their families, to an isolated wing of the
Milhaven maximum security prison, just outside of Kingston, Ontario. This
recent addition to the prison has been built specifically to
house those detained under the controversial security certificates.

This is GITNO (Guantanamo North)! Right here in Kingston! And these four
Arab nationals are scheduled to become its first inhabitants.

Security certificates allow the Canadian government to incarcerate any
non-citizen it deems a "threat" to national security without having to
charge the suspect with a crime, or give them access to the
evidence that will be used against them. Both the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International have admonished the
Canadian government for the indefinite incarcerations, lack of fair
trials, and absence of mechanisms for judicial reviews.

Come to a public teach-in to learn more about what we can do to stop the
secret trials, abolish security certificates, and end the
indefinite detentions.

Teach-In hosted by No One Is Illegal, Kingston
March 11, 2006 beginning at 12pm
Dunning Hall Room 11

Speakers will include:

- Members of the Justice for Mohamed Harkat Committee, Ottawa
- Representatives from No One Is Illegal, Toronto
- Matthew Behrens from The Campaign to Stop Secret Trials, Toronto -
Members of The People's Commission, Montreal
- Martin French from No One is Illegal, Kingston

Snacks and beverages will be provided.


Get off the 401 @ the Divisions Street Exit and follow Division south to
Union. Turn right (west) on Union and go one block to University. Dunning
Hall is on the South West corner of the intersection of
University and Union Streets.

Please let us know if you need to arrange for accommodations or have any
other questions. Contact Info: noii-k@email.com
(613) 545-1329

Justice for Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, Hassan Almrei, Mohamed
Harkat, and Adil Charkaoui!


Celebrate Black History Month by Keeping Gary Freeman in Canada!
Stop an Unjust Extradition to the United States!

[From http://www.freemandrum.org]
(Details on how you can help at the end.)

TORONTO, FEBRUARY, 2006 -- It seems that Black History Month is an
appropriate time to reflect on the case of one Douglas Gary Freeman (the
former Joseph Coleman Pannell, Jr.), a 56-year-old African
American man sitting in a Canadian jail almost two years as he fights
extradition to the United States.

As with Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month is often an
excellent opportunity missed. Focusing on the horrible crimes of
slavery, colonialism, and the struggles to overcome such evils as
segregation and apartheid, it sometimes feels like "black history" is
just that -- a fascinating, inspiring, yet somehow disconnected frame of
time unrelated to the present.

Yet there are many from "back then" who are still paying the price for
standing up, for resisting racism (The Angola 3, Leonard Peltier,
Mumia Abu-Jamal, to name a few).

And then there's this Freeman guy. He would be the first to admit he's
nobody famous. He was never a leader or high-profile activist. But these
are not prerequisites to walk into the gun-sights of racist
America. All it took in his case was a simple matter of the wrong skin
pigmentation, an incident of racial and political profiling.

MARCH 1969

"Man" had yet to walk on the moon when Freeman, then 19 years old, was
walking down a Chicago street in 1969. It is hard for most people in
Canada, especially those of us who enjoy what can only be described as
white skin privilege, to imagine what would be going though
Freeman's mind when he was arbitrarily stopped by a white police
officer and asked to identify himself. After all, this was 1960s
Chicago, when the police department had a hard-earned reputation as one
of the most corrupt and brutal in North America. Chicago
officers were given "shoot-to-kill" orders during 1968 disturbances by
then Mayor Richard J. Daley. A combined city/federal effort
boosted the police Red Squad and other agents of repression to isolate and
"neutralize" peace and anti-poverty groups.

The stench of racism hung particularly heavy during those years, as Martin
Luther King found when he was exposed to racist mobs in
Chicago far worse than any he had survived in the south while
campaigning for civil rights. Incidents of police brutality were an
everyday occurrence, and the African-American community quite
appropriately viewed the Chicago police as an occupying army.

During 1969, a committee formed whose title painfully illustrated the
social scene at the time: The Committee to End the Murder of Black People.
The Chicago police murders of 11 young black men, so long a part of
daily life that it hardly made the news, had reached such proportions
that the community had to stand up and name this police practice for what
it was: outright murder. According to The Boston Review, "In the late
1960s, Chicago police led the nation in the
slaying of private citizens, who were euphemistically characterized as
'fleeing felons' to mask the routine use of excessive force by police
against racial minorities. The police also exploited seemingly benign
offense categories, such as disorderly conduct, vagrancy, and loitering to
bully minority youths and adults who had the audacity to challenge police

Freeman's Choice: Become a Statistic or a Survivor?

Court documents indicate Mr. Freeman attempted to defend himself when his
life was threatened. Freeman appears to have had two choices:
become a statistic, or a survivor.

One could argue over the details of what happened that day (and
argument is about all one could do, since physical evidence was
destroyed, and there are no surviving police witnesses other than
Terrence Knox, the officer involved in the incident), but suffice it to
say, Knox was hospitalized with a wounded arm, and Freeman was
jailed. Two weeks after the 1969 incident, Freeman was indicted by an
all-white jury of his non-peers. After a number of years in custody,
fearing for his life and realizing he could not get a fair trial in
Chicago, Freeman jumped bail and came to Canada.

Given the intense climate of fear and racism at the time, it is
unlikely anyone would have listened to what Freeman said in his
defence. As leading civil rights attorney William Kunstler wrote in the
late 1980s, "For more than twenty years my representation of
black defendants has been motivated by one of my strongest beliefs: that
our society is always racist. None of our institutions,
including our legal system, deliver on this country's fundamental
promise that we are all created equal, especially those of us not born
with white skins. ...Rodney King [The L.A. motorist whose vicious beating
by L.A. police was videotaped from afar] brought it home once again: No
matter what the cops do, even if you have it on tape, they will not be

It seems Knox and Chicago police knew of Freeman's whereabouts in
Montreal during the 1970s, but no one bothered to seek extradition at the
time. Flash forward some 30 years, and now the case is in the news again.
Chicago headlines scream out hysterical, unfounded
accusations (from "Black Panther militant" to "accused
murderer"--hardly the stuff that creates an unbiased community pool for
jury duty!)

So why now? A full 37 years after the original incident? What can be
gained? Knox refuses to see anyone other than himself as the victim in all
this. True, his arm was never the same; that is unfortunate and sad. But
there are still big questions that Knox has yet to answer, questions that
would point to the fact that Freeman was also
victimized here: why the arbitrary stopping of a mature looking
19-year-old when Knox claimed he wanted to ask him if he was in
school? Why the dramatic discrepancies in the various statements Knox has
made? Why was the physical evidence destroyed? Why does Knox claim he
fears Freeman is coming after him when Knox's name is in the
Chicago phone book?

Freeman does not appear to be the kind of guy who recklessly goes
about shooting up police officers; in fact, he has never been involved in
another incident like that on March 7, 1969, and instead settled down, got
married, raised four kids in suburban Mississauga, and
worked in a library -- hardly the life of a criminal fugitive hiding out
in a mountainside cabin. Indeed, the guy was so boring that he forbade
violent video games and movies in his household. Rather than stocking up
on beer and shoot-em-ups, he mentored his kids' friends on
African-American history and jazz and related philosophical topics, and
paid his taxes. His only run-ins with the law seem to be for
occasionally motoring over the speed limit on our nation's highways, a
common enough ticketing offence.

Sure, Freeman could go back to Chicago, and plead self-defence. He may
get off, he may get nailed. But surviving until trial might be another
matter. Knox was a member of the city's notorious Red Squad, the subject
of massive and, to this day, ongoing litigation over that department's
illegal surveillance, infiltration, and disruption of progressive
organizations. Any trial involving Knox would inevitably bring up these
memories that Richard Daley, Jr., the current mayor, would prefer to keep
under the rug.

And loyalties run deep in police departments, especially when it comes to
suspects who are accused of shooting one of their own.

A Racist System Through and Through

Although there were many changes in American society during the civil
rights era, the years under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush I and Bush II have
served as an attack on and rollback of those gains. A simple look at
prison statistics reveals little has changed. The current U.S. rate of
incarceration for African American males is four times what is was under
apartheid South Africa. Whereas white males are jailed at a rate of 649
per 100,000, black males are thrown into
prison at a rate of 4,810 per 100,000 (as of June, 2002).

Amnesty International reports that "application of the death penalty in
the United States is racially biased -- and in some jurisdictions is
reserved solely for non-white defendants," describing the U.S. justice
system as "infected with racial prejudice."

A landmark Human Rights Watch report found systematic torture
practiced by Chicago police. In their 1998 report, Shielded from
Justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States, the
group noted "The People's Law Office, an activist firm, conducted an
investigation and identified sixty-five suspects who were tortured by
[Chicago Police Commander Joe] Burge or other officers and detectives
between 1972 and 1991...A report by the police investigatory agency, the
Office of Professional Standards (OPS), found that physical abuse 'did
occur and that it was systematic....[T]he type of abuse
described was not limited to the usual beating, but went into such
esoteric areas as psychological techniques and planned torture. The
evidence presented by some individuals convinced juries and appellate
courts that personnel assigned to Area 2 engaged in methodical

The acknowledgement that police engaged in torture goes higher still, as
then-Republican Governor of Illinois George Ryan in 2003 pardoned numerous
death row prisoners who said they had signed confessions tortured out of
them by police under the direction of Police
Commander Burge. CNN reported on January 14, 2003, that Burge "was fired
after internal police investigators found systemic evidence of physical
abuse of suspects. The four men 'were tortured,' the
governor said. 'There isn't any question about that.'"

Since 1991, appellate courts have thrown out the murder confessions of at
least 70 defendants in [Chicago's] Cook County -- more than half
because police arrested people with insufficient evidence before
interrogating them. Taking people into custody without probable cause is
both illegal and a precursor to many false confessions. But in Cook
County, an appellate judge wrote last year, that prohibition is
"routinely ignored." (from "Coercive and illegal tactics torpedo
scores of Cook County murder cases," December 16, 2001)

It is clear that systemic abuses continue to occur, and that the
allegations against Mr. Freeman would make him a prime target for
police retaliation while in custody. As the Leadership Conference on Civil
Rights points out, "The treatment of minorities in the criminal justice
system is the most profound civil rights crisis facing
America in the new century. It undermines the progress we have made over
the past five decades in ensuring equal treatment under the law, and calls
into doubt our national faith in the rule of law....Unequal treatment of
minorities characterizes every stage of the process. Black and Hispanic
Americans, and other minority groups as well, are victimized by
disproportionate targeting and unfair treatment by
police and other front-line law enforcement officials; by racially skewed
charging and plea bargaining decisions of prosecutors; by
discriminatory sentencing practices; and by the failure of judges,
elected officials and other criminal justice policy makers to redress the
inequities that become more glaring every day."

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clarke, in an August, 2005,
Toronto Star Interview, has urged Canada to refuse the extradition.
"Surely law enforcement has something better to do in these difficult
times, where its resources are stretched, than to pursue this man...It
is a clear sign of either overzealous protection of police conduct or
a vendetta by an individual officer to request extradition after a
biblical generation against an alleged perpetrator who has long since
embarked himself on a new and constructive life."

The Extradition Act: A Rubber Stamp for Shaky Requests

Mr. Freeman's fate lies in the hands of a white-run justice system in
Canada, where a decision about whether to hand Freeman over to the U.S.
will likely be made this year. That decision, already
rubber-stamped by a court and now awaiting the decision of the
Justice Minister, hinges to a great deal, according to extradition
precedents, on faith in the judicial system of the extradition
partner. Ask anyone on the streets of Canada whether they think a black
man can get a fair trial even in today's U.S., and they will likely
laugh you to the other side of the street.

Try a simple computer search of Illinois and, specifically, Chicago
police, and you will find up to the minute reports of police
brutality and racial profiling, torture-induced confessions, and
mistreatment of inmates at Cook County Jail. Ask yourself: if you were in
Freeman's shoes, would YOU feel comfortable going back to the United

Perhaps most galling is the state of Canadian law, which allows this
country the perceived right to hand over someone based on false and
contradictory evidence. As constitutional law expert Gary Botting
points out, "The overall scheme of the legislation is so patently unfair
that eventually the Supreme Court of Canada should strike down
significant parts of the Extradition Act, especially those parts
dealing with evidence, and with the perceived apprehension of bias of the
Minister of Justice/Attorney General in being both the prosecutor and the
judge at every stage of the procedure."

Indeed, at the recent hearing for his extradition, Freeman's attempt to
introduce some of the contextual, historical background to the
events of March 1969 was ruled irrelevant. The judge also had no
problem accepting false and contradictory evidence. Rather, all he had to
do was meet the very narrow guidelines laid out for him in the act, and
pass Freeman into the hands of the Justice Minister.

And so to this day Freeman sits, and waits, at Toronto's Don Jail, a
rotten place to spend the night, much less two years.

In the end, if we had a restorative system of justice (as opposed to a
system based on vengeance), this might have a much happier ending for two
men and their families. Freeman carries the weight of history on his
shoulders. He is someone who has known what it means to feel
real, skin-tingling fear, to never feel comfortable inside his own skin,
because that skin comes from the wrong end of America's colour
divide. And then there is Knox. We don't know a lot about him, other
than that he himself is haunted by being shot in the arm and losing its
full use. And that he cannot help as a white person but carry the
poisoned inheritance of racism which all of us must acknowledge in
ourselves if we are to end this vicious cycle.

Under a system of real and compassionate justice, these two might be
brought together and some reconciliation might occur. But we remain
shackled to a system based on punishment and informed by bias, fear, and

Given the unlikelihood of a total transformation of the two judicial
systems, we are left with a number of questions. How are the best
interests of justice served by sending Freeman away from his family to
face possible punishment both before and after a trial? Would YOU feel
comfortable being sent to the United States if you were in his shoes,
based on a story that seems to keep changing? As with any traumatic act,
there needs to be some form of closure. This just doesn't seem to be the
right way to do it.

--> Get involved in the effort to keep Gary Freeman in Canada!

1. Sign the online petition at http://www.freemandrum.org

2. Download a copy of the petition, have your friends sign it, and return
it to this address:
Family & Friends of Gary Freeman
H-110 Frederick Street
Toronto, ON M5A 4A9

3. Write to the new Minister of Justice Vic Toews asking that he not sign
the order of surrender for extradition (sample letter at

4. Contribute to the defense fund (see details at

5. Write letters of support to Gary Freeman -- for his address,
e-mail us at freemandrum@web.ca


March 03, 2006
Bordering On Apartheid: Challenging immigration control in Canada
by Hillary Bain Lindsay
The Dominion (http://dominionpaper.ca)


Abdelkader Belaouni is telling me about his day. "Every day I wake at
seven," he begins. "Ten after seven at the latest. I make my bed,
listen to the news. Around seven twenty or seven thirty I head down to the
kitchen." He methodically lists his daily activities. "I play the piano -
I'm getting lessons now. Around one - after lunch - I use the stationary
bike for fifteen or twenty minutes."

Belaouni can't get his exercise outside. He can't go outside.

Abdelkader Belaouni has not left St. Gabriel's Church in Montreal
since he took sanctuary there on January 1st 2006, defying Immigration
Canada's deportation order.

The nights are the hardest. "I have a lot of nightmares." His voice is
quiet. He explains that he can't sleep without medication; even with the
medication he often wakes at 3 in the morning. "I think a lot... I think
too much."

Belaouni has a lot on his mind. On November 21st, 2005 Immigration Canada
notified him that on January 5th 2006 he would be deported; forced to
abandon a life and community that has taken him three years to build and
over a decade to find.

Belaouni fled Algeria, his country of birth, in 1996. He left behind a
civil war that took the lives of over 100 000 people and a country where
he no longer felt safe. He moved to New York City, but after September
11th 2001, he no longer felt safe there either. Belaouni crossed the
border, filed a refugee claim, and became one of more than 200 000 people
in Canada living without status.

Refugee claimants will wait months or even years to learn whether
Canada will award them permanent status. In the meantime, "you're a second
class citizen," notes Jordan Topp, a member of The Committee to Support
Abdelkader Belaouni. Lack of permanent status makes finding work extremely
difficult, "even if you're a professional - a nurse or an engineer - your
degree doesn't mean anything once you get here," she explains.
"[Non-status people] end up doing the shit jobs that no one else wants."
Belaouni reports that many of his non-status friends also suffer from
stress and depression - as he does - while living under the constant
threat of deportation. Non-status people (like
refugee claimants) are only covered for essentials and emergencies under
Canada's medical system, and some - like Belaouni - are not
covered at all.

Living in such a precarious state is not a choice that many people make
willingly, says Topp. "People generally don't want to leave their homes
and families," she says. "They don't want to uproot their entire lives and
move." But many people - like Belaouni - do. They do, says Topp, because
they're fleeing--among other things--war, poverty, and oppression. And
although many refugee claimants may count themselves as 'lucky' to be
here, Topp says Canada is partly to blame for many people's initial

Canada's foreign policy and immigration system contribute to what Topp
calls the 'global apartheid:' a system where a minority of the world's
population controls a vast majority of its wealth and power, a system
where capital can move freely but the majority of people cannot.
"Canada's economic and geographic interests take priority over
people's well-being," she asserts. Topp gives the example of mining
projects in the global south that benefit Canadian multinationals: people
are displaced and livelihoods lost due to Canada's economic interests,
"yet we won't let them into Canada because they don't fit the bill" says
Topp. "Immigration Canada makes boxes that you have to fit into," boxes
into which few people can fit.

One of these boxes used to assess Humanitarian and Compassionate
Applications for permanent residence is based on whether or not an
individual has "established" themselves in Canada. According to
Immigration Canada, the fact that Belaouni does not have a job, and does
not have a wife and child here means that he has failed to
establish himself in Montreal.

Belaouni argues, however, that he does have a family in Canada: he has a
family of friends and supporters. His connections and contributions to his
community are reflected in the over 40 organizations in
Montreal that are supporting his demand for status, most recently the
French-speaking branch of Amnesty International in Canada. Belaouni also
says that he was working, he just wasn't being paid. For over a year he
had been volunteering with The Multi-Ethnic Association for the
Integration of Persons with Disabilities. His involvement with that
particular organization points to another reason he couldn't find paid
work despite his best efforts: Belaouni is blind. According to Topp, this,
along with his non-permanent status means that he's facing "huge
systematic barriers [to employment]."

According to a study conducted by the Canadian National Institute for the
Blind last year, only 25% of blind and visually impaired people are
employed - and only 30% of those people have permanent employment. As a
non-permanent resident, Belaouni didn't qualify for government programs
that may have increased his chances of employment. "We ask people to prove
that they're established," explains Topp, "but then create a system where
it's next to impossible for them to become
established." Topp is tired of the hoops non-status people are
expected to jump through, and the boxes they are expected to fit into, in
order to prove that they deserve to stay in Canada.

Topp is not alone. Last June up to a thousand people took part in the No
One Is Illegal March On Ottawa. The 200 km march from Montreal to Ottawa
was organized by Solidarity Across Borders, a network of self organized
migrants, refugees, immigrants and their allies. With a
rallying cry of "No Borders, No Nations, Stop The Deportations!"
Solidarity Across Borders asserts that all people - not just wealthy and
educated people- should be able to decide where they wish to live and
work. To this end, they call for an end to deportations and the
regularization of all non-status people.

Belaouni and his supporters have reframed the debate. Instead of
focusing on risks he may face if forced to return to Algeria they are
making the case that he should be allowed to stay based on his
right--on the rights of all human beings--to choose where he lives his
life. But won't Canada's borders be flooded with refugees? "That's exactly
the point," says Topp.

Topp's analysis is shared by Samir Shaheen-Hussain, a member of the No One
Is Illegal collective in Montreal. "Because of the primal
injustices that exist globally, people should be able to move wherever
they wish," says Shaheen-Hussain. "So long as wealthy, powerful
corporations and nation-states continue to benefit from the oppression and
exploitation of those living in the global South, those people who are
displaced should have the freedom of movement to determine where they will

This economic and political analysis of the immigration system may seem
radical to some, and the proposed solutions may be dismissed as
'unrealistic', but the No One Is Illegal movement is gaining ground; No
One Is Illegal groups have been established across Canada and
around the world.

Besides, argues Topp the normalization of immigration controls is a
relatively new phenomenon.

"Until recently, people have been able to migrate to where they are best
able to live and survive. Today, that's not possible unless you have a
bank account with over $200 000 in it or are one of the people who meet
the very narrow criteria of persecution required for refugee status."

This narrow criteria is also applied in an arbitrary manner, continues
Topp. In the last two years Belaouni's refugee officer sat on the
Immigration and Refugee Board he accepted only one person. "That's why
people call it a lottery," she explains. "It has little to do with the
actual case and more to do with the person you end up in front of."

Although The Committee to Support Abdelkader Belaouni is doing
everything it can to help Belaouni win the legal 'lottery' for
permanent status, it is also trying to shift the terms of debate about
refugees from ideas of charity to ones of justice, dignity and
autonomy; from benevolence to solidarity. At a press conference
announcing his intention to take sanctuary in St Gabriel's Church,
Belaouni was clear. "I'm not hiding from Immigration Canada, but I want to
tell them clearly, I will not be presenting myself for
deportation. I've been able to achieve autonomy and dignity in
Montreal, and I don't want to lose that. My family are my friends
here. I am here to defend myself; I am here to defend justice".

[More information about Abdelkader Belaouni's case is available at:


Ten Months in an Immigration Jail - A first-hand account by Arash Aslani

In this two part audio series Arash Aslani shares his first-hand
experiences of being a political refugee in today's racist and
exploitive immigration system. His story begins in Iran and ends in
Canada, where he was detained for 10 months in the Laval Immigration
Prevention Center, just north of Montreal. He speaks after having been
released following a three week hunger strike, and is currently
awaiting a decision on his refugee claim in Montreal.


Recorded by Seth Porcello of the CKUT Community News Collective.


CBC Radio's The Current:
Amnesty for Undocumented Workers?


Being an undocumented immigrant in this country means a life of hiding and
waiting. So anytime they're offered hope or help, it's hard to blame them
for banging down doors--- no matter how controversial the plan might be.
That's what happened this week in Toronto.

An organization called, CHOICES is offering to help undocumented
immigrants in this country obtain legal status. The plan is to bring a
petition---signed by as many undocumented immigrants as
possible----directly to Stephen Harper...calling for him to grant
amnesty to those already toiling under the legal radar.

Signers were being asked to pay $50-dollars each. The organization claims
this was a voluntary donation to help with the campaign...
however some people allege they were given to believe the charge would
give them amnesty. Immigration officials have asked the RCMP to look into
the group's plan.

Steve McGregor is an Immigration consultant volunteering with
Choices... he defends his group's plan. When word got out about the
effort, Choices' offices were flooded with people - nearly 10,000 over the
past few days, the group claims. And all of them desperate for help. CBC
reporter Jean Carter spoke with one mother about what
gaining legal status would mean to her and her family.

Immigration Lawyer

But this controversy draws attention to an even bigger problem.
Statistics show this is a nation-wide issue-- with over two-hundred
thousand people working illegally across the country. Lorne Waldman is an
immigration lawyer. And he has been representing undocumented
workers for nearly 30 years. He joined us in our Ottawa studio.

Liberal Accountability

The federal government has made several attempts over the decades to deal
with the problem of undocumented workers in Canada. And since the 1960s
Canada has legalized more than 80,000 illegal immigrants. But, as we
mentioned, at least 200,000 workers are still without legal
status in this country.

Andrew Telegdi is the Liberal MP for Kitchener-Waterloo. Under the Liberal
government, he was chair of the standing committee on
Immigration and Citizenship. He joined us in our Toronto studio."



Grassy Narrows warns Weyerhaeuser, Abitibi against destruction of
homeland? Canadian Press


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

GRASSY NARROWS, Ont. (CP) - Frustrated by what they see as an
industrial invasion of their territory, aboriginal people in
northwestern Ontario are warning two forestry giants to stop logging the
area or face an international protest.

In a letter sent to Weyerhaeuser Co. Ltd. and Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. on
Tuesday, the Grassy Narrows First Nation accused the companies of cultural
and environmental devastation.

"This letter is your final official notice that you are taking part in the
destruction of our homeland," the letter states.

"Know that you face a fierce campaign against you on all fronts - in the
woods, in the streets, in the marketplace, in your boardrooms and in the

The 700-member community of Grassy Narrows has long complained that
decades of unsustainable logging have poisoned area waters with
mercury and other toxins and all but destroyed their aboriginal way of life.

Negotiations, lawsuits, requests for environmental assessments, public
protests and a three-year blockade in the forest have all failed to win an
improvement in the situation, the letter states.

"The Earth is suffering and we as human beings are suffering," said Judy
Da Silva, a member of the Grassy Narrows environmental committee.

"The water is really polluted, there's a lot of erosion on the land, and .
. . we're still finding high levels of mercury in animals."

Denis Leclerc, Abitibi's director of corporate affairs, said Grassy
Narrow's demands recently changed to include recognition of their
traditional land-use area, something the company has no control over.

"It's almost impossible for a forest and paper company to contribute
concretely to a resolution when the demands from Grassy Narrows are
directly related to government decisions," Leclerc said.

Bonny Skene, Ontario public affairs manager for Weyerhaeuser Canada, said
Montreal-based Abitibi-Consolidated is responsible for managing the forest
and does so according to plans sanctioned by the provincial government.

Weyerhaeuser, which uses hardwood from forests in the area to feed its
mill in nearby Kenora, Ont., takes the concerns stated in the letter
seriously, she said.

"Weyerhaeuser is committed to building mutually beneficial
relationships with aboriginal communities," Skene said from the
company's regional offices in Dryden, Ont.

"We understand the demands on forests today and meeting the demands
requires all of us to work together."

David Sone, an organizer with the Rainforest Action Network based in San
Francisco, said the forest companies have "run amok" in Grassy Narrows and
need to be stopped.

"This letter signals the beginning of a serious escalation of the
struggle to protect Grassy Narrows," Sone said.

"It makes very clear their wishes and interests aren't being respected and
they don't intend to sit back and watch that happen."

Last fall, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society issued a report that
denounced Abitibi for clear cutting huge tracts land in the
region and replanting it with ecologically barren tree plantations.

"The clear cutting of the land and the destruction of the forest is an
attack on our people," said Roberta Kessik, a Grassy Narrows
grandmother and trapper.

"The land is the basis of who we are."

The First Nations also worry that irreversible damage will be done to
eco-tourism in the area, further damaging the longer-term economic
prospects in the region.


Woman wins reprieve from deportation to Iran
Mar. 3, 2006. 01:00 AM


A Federal Court judge has stayed a deportation order against a failed
refugee claimant from Iran who campaigned against the introduction of
sharia law in Ontario and could face the same gender persecution if
returned to her native country.

In a decision released late Tuesday, Justice Robert Barnes ruled that the
27-year-old woman from Tehran will be allowed to remain in Canada until a
judicial review is completed of an earlier risk assessment that concluded
she would not face danger in going back.

Out of concerns for her safety, the Toronto Star is not publishing the
woman's name.

The woman, who was due to be deported March 12, said she fled Iran in 2002
because she was afraid of persecution, stemming from her
outspokenness against sharia law following her divorce from an abusive

She remained part of the "dissident movement" in Canada and was active in
a recent campaign against a controversial plan in Ontario to allow Muslims
to use religious law to settle family disputes under the
Arbitration Act. The government scrapped the plan last month.

After rejecting her refugee claim, immigration officials conducted a risk
assessment and ruled in December that there was no reason to
believe the woman's political involvement in Canada would put her life at
risk in Iran.

Her lawyer, Thomas Richards, said yesterday the court's order has
cleared the way for an appeal against the risk assessment.


Cleared terror suspect wants to stay



A Toronto man says Canada owes him a home after he was arrested for being
a member of what turned out to be a non-existent al-Qaida
sleeper cell.

Mohammad Imran Akhtar Malik, 33, claims through his lawyer and in
court documents that he cannot return to Pakistan due to news reports that
wrongly called him and 20 other students terrorists.

Immigration officials claimed the accused, mostly Pakistani, were
agents in a sleeper cell and posed as students at an Ottawa business college.

The year-long probe by Canada immigration officers cost about $1
million and was dubbed Project Thread, according to evidence at
detention hearings.

The investigation was patterned after a manhunt that followed the U.S.
Sept. 11 attacks, in which officers focused on "clusters" of students,
some of whom took flying lessons or visited nuclear plants.


At the immigration hearings, evidence was presented that an attack on
Toronto may have been foiled by the arrests. No details of the threat was

Malik's lawyer Amina Sherazee said charges against her client and the
others of being a threat to national security were dropped. Malik was
freed from jail within weeks.

Sherazee said nearly all the men were held for a lesser offence of
misrepresenting themselves to enter Canada.

About 13 were promptly deported to Pakistan and India.

Malik and five others, who are fighting to remain in Canada, claim their
lives are in danger if they return home because of the false links to

"My client is afraid of going back home," Sherazee said.


March 3, 2006
Family prays for deportation stay


An Edmonton family facing deportation to Costa Rica is praying for a miracle.

Gus Jimenez, his wife and their four children have applied to
Citizenship and Immigration Canada to stay in the country on
humanitarian grounds. They say if they're sent back to the Latin
American country, they face death.

"We have only one chance," said Jimenez yesterday. "We're praying for a
miracle next week."

Jimenez was a taxi company owner in San Jose in March 2000 when he says he
saw the murder of his business partner by three teenage
members of the gang Los Mocos.

As the only witness to the heinous crime, Jimenez said the killers
threatened to kill him if he went to the police.

Jimenez reported the crime to police anyway and fled the country.

Immigration spokesman Randy Gurlock said an application to stay in the
country on humanitarian grounds doesn't stay a deportation order. That
could take anywhere between 12 and 18 months.


NY TIMES, March 3, 2006
The Gospel vs. H.R. 4437

It has been a long time since this country heard a call to organized
lawbreaking on this big a scale. Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation's largest, urged
parishioners on Ash Wednesday to devote the 40 days of Lent to
fasting, prayer and reflection on the need for humane reform of
immigration laws. If current efforts in Congress make it a felony to
shield or offer support to illegal immigrants, Cardinal Mahony said, he
will instruct his priests ? and faithful lay Catholics ? to defy the law.

The cardinal's focus of concern is H.R. 4437, a bill sponsored by
James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin and Peter King of New York. This grab
bag legislation, which was recently passed by the House, would expand the
definition of "alien smuggling" in a way that could
theoretically include working in a soup kitchen, driving a friend to a bus
stop or caring for a neighbor's baby. Similar language appears in
legislation being considered by the Senate this week.

The enormous influx of illegal immigrants and the lack of a coherent
federal policy to handle it have prompted a jumble of responses by state
and local governments, stirred the passions of the nativist
fringe, and reinforced anxieties since 9/11. Cardinal Mahony's
defiance adds a moral dimension to what has largely been a debate
about politics and economics. "As his disciples, we are called to
attend to the last, littlest, lowest and least in society and in the
church," he said.

The cardinal is right to argue that the government has no place
criminalizing the charitable impulses of private institutions like his,
whose mission is to help people with no questions asked. The Los Angeles
Archdiocese, like other religious organizations across the country, runs a
vast network of social service programs offering food and emergency
shelter, child care, aid to immigrants and refugees, counseling services,
and computer and job training. Through Catholic Charities and local
parishes, the church is frequently the help of last resort for illegal
immigrants in need. It should not be made an arm of the immigration police
as well.

Cardinal Mahony's declaration of solidarity with illegal immigrants, for
whom Lent is every day, is a startling call to civil disobedience, as
courageous as it is timely. We hope it forestalls the day when
works of mercy become a federal crime.


Former Braceros and Zapatistas Unite to End the System that Beats Them Down

In Stories of Migration to the US, a History of Slavery

By Bertha Rodríguez Santos
The Other Journalism with the Other Campaign, Reporting from Tlaxcala

February 21, 2006
This report appears on the internet at

ZACATELCO, TLAXCALA: As old workers of the fields, as guardians of the
knowledge that makes them part of that other Mexico that jumps to
defend its land and territory, more than a thousand former "Braceros"
publicly joined the Other Campaign, led by the Zapatista Army of
National Liberation yesterday, while Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
showed the warmth, respect and support that the indigenous Zapatistas hold
toward this struggle.

During the meeting with members of the National Assembly of Braceros (ANB
in its Spanish initials), held in the esplanade of "El Dorado" (once a
local strip club), Marcos said that the Zapatistas will unite their
struggle with the movement of the former Braceros, who since the late
1990s have sought the restitution of a savings fund created by the Manuel
Avila Camacho and Franklin D. Roosevelt administrations as part of the
Bracero Program. From 1942 to 1966 the Bracero Program permitted the
hiring of Mexican workers in the United States, with more than 5 million
contracts eventually signed for work in the fields and on the railways.

Obviously tired by the weight of their years, the former Braceros, most of
them between 60 and 90 years old, began to fill the chairs on the
esplanade where Subcomandante Marcos would later make his
presentation. The widows of the former Braceros and their children were
there as well. Many came from the interior of Tlaxcala, but
delegates also attended from the state of Mexico, the Mexico City
Federal District, Hidalgo, Querétaro, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas,
Puebla, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Guerrero, Aguascalientes, Jalisco and
Morelos ? the states that form the National Assembly of Braceros.

Experiences full of sacrifice, humiliation and exploitation color the
lives of these men who still maintain hope of surviving by cultivating
their own lands, running some small business or from the pension of one of
their close relatives.

Gerardo Vásquez Herrerías, a native of San Cosme Xalostoc, Tlaxaca, tells
of how at age 18 he was forced to enter the Bracero Program. The entire
country, recounts the old man, was going through a strong
economic crisis. The poverty was palpable everywhere after the
unfortunate years following the Mexican Revolution, as Mauricio Ocampo
Campos explains in his thesis, "Sociopolitical Organization of the Former
Bracero Movement in Tlaxcala." Meanwhile, the United States faced an even
greater economic crisis, as the Second World War had started and the
country needed cheap labor to sustain its economy.

The construction of railway lines necessary to transport U.S. products to
market and other activities related to the locomotive industry were among
of the main labors of the Braceros of that time. The cotton and vegetable
fields were also worked by the hands of Mexican peasant

At age 63, Vásquez Herrerías remembers how hard life was in the field. "In
1965 there was a frost all over the country, there was nothing to eat, no
work. There was a lot of need. Before, corn was grown but the work was
done with mules or by hand. Our families lived in houses made out of
roofing tiles or hay; the floor was dirt. We had no table and we ate on
the floor."

He mentions that he was the sixth of ten children, which made him feel
obligated to seek another way to help his family survive.

On this farmer's hands there are still signs of the tough work he had to
do in the cotton fields of Texas and Arizona. He says that many Braceros
without experience handling cotton bolls spilled blood all over their
hands, cutting themselves on the fibers.

"We suffered greatly," he says, and adds that the pay most of the
workers received was 13 cents for each pound of cotton.

The former Braceros' testimonies speak of their work in California and
Arkansas ? "right next to the Mississippi river," remembers Francisco
Flores Muñoz, 75, originally from San Felipe Cuauhtenco ? as well as
almost every part of the southern U.S.

Nearly all the Braceros knew humiliation since the moment they were pushed
into the train cars that brought them to the sites where they would be
hired. They all underwent physical evaluations that included a kind of
"disinfection" from possible illnesses. "They suffered a very inhuman
treatment," says Felipe Monroy Sandoval, son of a Bracero and an advisor
to the delegation from the state of Guerrero.

Monroy claims that the bosses ignored many of the conditions outlined in
the contracts. Although these documents established that Mexican workers
would receive the same status as U.S. workers, there were no decent living
conditions and there was much discrimination. "Many work sites were like
concentration camps where the people worked a minimum of 12 hours each
day. When they had to, they even made the Braceros work at night."

The Zapatistas know this story and see themselves reflected in it. Marcos
said that the indigenous understand the pain and sacrifice of the men and
women who make up the Bracero movement. In their meetings throughout the
eight states that the Other Campaign has already toured they have come
across "old men who tell us: 'they treat us like broken furniture, as if
we were in their way. We weren't born old; we worked hard and now they
want to push us aside, they want to kill us.'"

"We understand them. The same thing happens to the indigenous and we feel
much indignation and rage."

He said that the former Braceros had to go to work in dangerous
conditions, as there was a World War going on. "What if bombs fall in the
fields? Who is going to die and who is going to get maimed? The Mexican
workers, of course."

They also endured, added Marcos, the racist mistreatment of the
foremen, "because of our color and our language."

Now the government treats the Braceros "as if they were beggars? they
don't fit in to the government's thinking. The old are like the
Indians: they are only good for making little things and begging in the

He added that the government does not understand because it is up
above. If it were below, it would understand pain and dignity. Those that
have power say: "I am going to wait until you die, until the
indigenous die, until we are sorry for the color that we have, for the
language that we speak."

He called the 38,000 pesos ($3,600 dollars) per person offered by the law
that legislators approved five months ago a beggar's pittance. The law
also creates the new "Trust Fund for the Former Braceros Who Lent Their
Services in the United States from 1942 to 1966."

According to the Braceros' calculations, they have a right to some 180,000
pesos ($17,000) for each contract, including the interest
accumulated for all those years. In their opinion this was a financial
scam on the part of the banks entrusted to transfer the money.

According to the information provided during the meeting with the
Zapatista representative, "the money that they took out of our
paychecks was deposited in the Wells Fargo Bank, which made a transfer to
the National Bank of Mexico (Banamex); this was then transferred to the
Banco de Crédico Agricola, which held on to our money for 36 years until
in 1975 they transferred it to the National Rural Bank
(Banrural), which no longer exists. This is unjust."

In a serious tone and sometimes showing great emotion, the peasant farmers
expressed their feeling that "the word does not die although silence
accompanies our steps. Our children and all those who show solidarity with
our just demands will continue this struggle."

After reading a document with great difficulty, Aureleano Santiago
Naranjo, a Mixteco indigenous man from Juxtlahuaca, Oaxaca, asked
Subcomandante Marcos with tears in his eyes to include the Braceros'
demands in the EZLN's program of struggle.

Several of the former Braceros spoke of how their representatives have
appealed to different government officials, from the Chamber of
Deputies (Mexico's lower house of Congress), to the Executive Branch and
the president, to the Supreme Court. In the latter case, last
January 17, the ANB presented a lawsuit demanding that various federal
bodies ? such as the Department of the Interior, the Department of Labor
and Social Security, the Department of Foreign Relations and Banrural ?
produce their accounting on the Braceros' savings fund's disappearance.
Nevertheless, until now, "they keep passing the buck"; for this reason,
the farmers are requesting that the EZLN make the petition, supported by
thousands of Mexicans, its own, so that "the fruits of our labor be

The Zapatistas, as "Delegate Zero" announced, did take up this
struggle as their own and will continue their tour across the country to
add themselves to the struggles of the Indian peoples, workers, peasant
farmers, men, women, youth, children, immigrants, and "other elderly
people who also say that it is not right to treat us as though we were

"We want to make a national uprising without weapons. With a movement of
everyone, so that those from the government leave." Marcos also spoke of
the need to do away with a system that looks down upon us, and of the lie
of the political parties that sometimes paint
themselves green, white and red; sometimes blue, and sometimes yellow and

At the beginning of his speech, Marcos said that for the Zapatistas, the
most valuable people are those of greater age. In fact, he
clarified the fact that in the EZLN, those that command are the older men
and women. "We listen to them with attention because their
knowledge is greater. We don't think that people have more worth
because of what they studied, or because they speak well or because they
can carry on about some subject. We look simply at one's heart, one's
word, one's work."

During his speech, Marcos received signs of appreciation from several of
those present, such as one woman who introduced herself suddenly in order
to give him some tlacoyos (corn cakes filled with vegetables) ? he really
was in the land of the corn tortilla, from which the word Tlaxcala derives
in the Nauhatl language ? and one woman who presented him with a special
festival bread.

Finally, Delegate Zero proposed that the Braceros participate in the great
mobilization that all the workers of the country will carry out next May 1
to commemorate international Workers' Day in Mexico City, "to see if it
doesn't embarrass them to see us together and hear our voice for justice."

The other proposal is that the Braceros come to see today's migrant
workers in the United States, who will participate in the meetings to be
held in the border cities of Tijuana and Juárez in June. The EZLN promised
to support this proposal by arranging transport for seven representatives
of the former Braceros, so that the Mexicans who live on the other side of
the border "know your struggle against injustice and support you."

After forming the human fences that would allow Sup Marcos to pass
through, those present began to chant warnings: "Somos braceros. No somos
limosneros." ("We are Braceros, not beggers.") "Gobierno,
ratero, regresa el dinero." ("Theiving government, return our money!") -----

No One Is Illegal/Personne n'est illégal-MONTREAL
tel: 514-859-9023 -- noii-montreal@resist.ca

Sender: No One is Illegal Montreal <noii-montreal@resist.ca>

[Ed.Note: "No One is Illegal Montreal" is an anti-authoritarian
anti-capitalist initiative]

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