National Day of Action to Stop Secret Trials in Canada

People's Front (Halifax) o Canada Palestine Association o Homes Not Bombs

Harkat Mohamad

Friday, 31 October 2003

WE ARE HOLDING this picket today to tell the federal government and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to stop arbitrary arrests and to stop secret trails in Canada. (The offices of CSIS are located high inside the Maritime Centre). We call on Nova Scotians to take an unequivocal stand against the use of force and impunity which turns the rule of law on its head.

Five Muslim men are currently being held in solitary confinement without due process of law. They have been detained with CSIS "security certificates" now being used with increasing frequency as part of the immigration and anti-terrorism legislation in Canada.

These men are Hassan Almrei, held since October 2001, Muhammad Mahjoub, held since June 2000, Muhammad Jabbalah, held since August 2001, Mohammad Harkat, held since December 2002, and Adil Charkaoui, held since May 2003.

They have not been charged with any crime, but are treated as worse than criminals. They have been collectively held for 99 months, on secret evidence neither they nor their lawyers are allowed to see. They have been in custody without regard for their human, civil and political rights. They have no opportunity to see their families, or to have regular contact with their lawyer. Even a modicum of humane treatment such as a sweater or shoes has been denied those in solitary confinement. They are victims of CSIS "security certificate" which accuses them, without having to provide any proof, of having alleged terrorist links.

In Toronto 19 young Muslim men have also been taken into custody under the Immigration and Refugee Protection (sic) Act, through which immigrants and refugees can be arrested without charge, without factual evidence, let alone any burden of proof, denied a fair trail and imprisoned indefinitely.

Since September 11, Canadian citizens and residents of the Muslim faith and Arab origin have been targeted with blackmail, deportation, incarceration and so on. In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the Muslim community has been targeted by CSIS, the FBI and the RCMP. Anti-Islam bias in the media is rampant. This offensive - in the name of "protecting Canadians from terrorists" - is aimed at splitting Canadians and fostering racist hysteria against Pakistanis, Arabs and Muslims. It denies the rights of all Canadians.

The "security certificates" are being used to criminalize national minorities who have come here as immigrants and refugees and to violate their right to conscience, to domicile, to association and other civil and political rights which modern society has given rise to. The right to conscience is the hallmark of such a society. Yet the new Citizenship Act (Bill C-18) gives the government broad powers to persecute anyone in Canada under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Section 17 goes so far as to allow it to annul the citizenship of an already naturalized citizen if it is found that the person has "demonstrated a flagrant and serious disregard for the principles and values underlying a free and democratic society."

Just because the governmen has legislated that it can act with impunity in "national security" it does not make it right, just or legal. How can impunity be called "legal"?

We must not permit such methods of a police state that are being used in our name to criminalize human beings or deny due process.

We demand that rule of law, due process and the principle of innocent until proven guilty be upheld.

1. An end to the use of the CSIS Secret Trial Security Certificate, and an end to the use of secret 'evidence' in all Immigration and Refugee Proceedings. They are as an unacceptable and gross violation of an individual's fundamental rights.

2. Those currently imprisoned under the security certificate be released immediately or be charged with concrete crimes and evidence presented in accord with fundamental justice and rule of law.

3. Immediate Release and Due Process for the Pakistani Students held in 'Preventive Detention' in Toronto.

4. An end to CSIS and RCMP harassment of Muslims and People of Arabic and Middle Eastern Heritage.

5. An end to CSIS viewing political protests in Canada as 'terrorist' acts.

Condemn the Criminalization of Dissent, Conscience and Being!

Stop the Profiling of Muslims and Arabs in Canada!

An Injury to One Is an Injury to All!

Defend the Rights of All

Source: Halifax Voice Newsbulletin of the People's Front / Halifax, 31 October 2003

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