******************************please distribute widely*
Bring Abousfian Abdelrazik Home!
Cross-Canada Campaign 7 April to 7 May
Update and Call for Action
On Friday, 3 April, Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon refused to
give a passport to Abousfian Abdelrazik. The flight Abousfian was due
to board left without him, and he remains in the same situation of forced
exile that he has been in for six years - living for almost a year in the
Canadian embassy in Khartoum.
On Tuesday, 7 May, his lawyers will go to the courts to ask for a mandatory
order to compel the government to bring Abousfian back by "any
safe means at its disposal". This is being argued on the basis of section 6
of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states, "Every citizen of
Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada."
If they wanted to, government officials could, literally, send a plane today
to bring him home tomorrow. But the government's actions have flown in the
face of the law and public opinion, and officials have refused to do what is
both within their means and within their legal obligation - to bring
Abousfian home. Without public pressure, there is no guarantee that they
will even respect a court order.
Project Fly Home is thus calling for a public campaign leading up to 7 May
to push the government to act NOW to bring Abousfian home.
It is imperative that the level of pressure and public scrutiny remain very
high. The government has clearly proven its capacity for duplicity and its
strong resistance to upholding Abousfian's rights. This is a case which
is important not only for Abousfian but for all of us who are concerned
about preserving the rights and freedoms - and most importantly, the dignity
and equality - of all.
Abousfian's case has exposed a broad public to a much deeper problem
that concerns every single one of us: from the most vulnerable non-citizens
(dozens of whom were rounded up in mass factory raids last week and are now
facing cruel deportation with no concern for their lives and well-being), to
refugee claimants and permanent residents (who, under the draconian secret
trial system, can be stripped of the most basic legal rights and forced to
live a life of constant state surveillance -- either incarcerated or in
their own homes -- under the perpetual threat of deportation), to the more
privileged in our society. It is imperative that we act now.
1. 28 APRIL: We are calling on all cities to organize creative public
information or fundraising events on or around 28 April, to mark the
of Abousfian's entering the embassy in Khartoum. If you are organizing an
event, please email details to firstname.lastname@example.org. To connect with
an event near you, check the list of contacts for various cities on our
2. 5 MAY: We are calling on all cities to organize protests on or
around 5 May to demand that the government act now to bring him home
OR to mobilize people to travel to Ottawa for the protest there. If
you are organizing an event or mobilizing to go to Ottawa, please
email email@example.com. You can get in touch with others in
your city who could help organize this by checking
the webpage www.peoplescommission.org/
3. Please encourage five of your friends, colleagues or neighbours to
make calls and write to LAWRENCE CANNON, copying Stephen Harper. Also
ask them to write to their own MP. Details as well as a model letter,
post card and petition can be found at
4. Importantly, PLEASE continue to send in notes of solidarity to
Abousfian via firstname.lastname@example.org. These don't have to be long.
have been extremely important to keep up his morale and courage.
People are also invited to send letters and gifts directly to the
embassy in Khartoum.
There are other suggestions for action, including obtaining organizational
endorsements (still welcome!) and donating to the Abousfian Abdelarazik
Solidarity Fund, detailed on the webpage:
On Friday, 3 April, Abousfian Abdelrazik's lawyers received a fax from a
government lawyer. In one sentence it stated that Lawrence Cannon, the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, had decided to refuse their client an emergency
passport. No explanation was provided. At the same time, Cannon, at a NATO
summit in France, told reporters that Abousfian was being refused a
passport on grounds of "national security".
The message came just hours before the flight which was supposed to bring
Abousfian back to Canada after six years of illegal exile was due to
leave Khartoum. The airplane ticket had been bought by people from across
Canada who had risked being charged under the "Al Qaeda and Taliban
regulations" to contribute money to repatriate Abousfian. They did so
in order to fulfill conditions imposed by Passport Canada, which
told Abousfian's lawyers in December 2008 that a passport for Abousfian would be
issued if he presented a payed for ticket. After years of
imprisonment without charge, brutality, torture, and frustrated attempts to
return home, Abousfian was destitute and in no position to pay for the
ticket. The government's position was that anyone who "provided or collected
by any means, directly or indirectly, funds with the intention that the
funds be used" by the UN-black listed Abousfian could face criminal
charges. In a groundswell of public support for the stranded Abousfian,
people from across Canada stepped forward to offer their help - their
numbers have now grown to over 200.
The ticket was bought, it was presented; and the passport was refused. Once
again the goal posts were moved.
It is widely known that the RCMP and CSIS have cleared Abousfian, and
that the government's standing position is that it wants Abousfian
removed from the UN list. In the face of this, Cannon's cry of
security" sounds even more arbitrary than usual; in fact, it seems
downright silly. The government's refusal to issue this Canadian citizen the
travel document that he needs in order to come home; that he has been
promised, and that he is legally entitled to, is inexplicable.
A few facts nevertheless stand out as highly relevant. It is clear from
documents released under the Privacy Act that Canadian authorities were
involved in the arrest of Abousfian in Sudan. It is, by all
appearances, a clear-cut case of "extraordinary rendition" - or in less
sanitized language, outsourcing torture. For anyone familiar with the
stories of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, the pattern
is disturbingly familiar. Abousfian's story - which started under the
Liberal government but continues under the Conservatives - would certainly
create embarassment for some powerful people, particularly at a time when
Canada and its allies are intent on bringing Sudanese President Bachir
before the international court for his many crimes.
This situation has everything to do with Abousfian's religion and the
colour of his skin. It has everything to do with a strong tide of racism and
the increasing exercise of arbitrary power on the part of the government
that must be seriously and strongly resisted to defend the rights and
dignity of all.
**Why Lawrence Cannon is wrong, 28 March 2009:
**Statement by Abousfian Abdelarazik, 2 April 2009:
**List of contributors to the Abousfian Abdelrazik Solidarity Fund, 3
April 2009: www.peoplescommission.org/
More background: www.peoplescommission.org/
Project Fly Home
Project Fly Home is an initiative of the People's Commission Network.