REFUGEES AGAINST RACIAL PROFILING
Refugees Against Racial Profiling joins a movement of self-organized Algerian, Columbian, Palestinian, Pakistani and other refugee movements in Canada. These communities are fighting in the face of growing repression: organizing demonstrations, educational forums, forming womens committees and seeking sanctuary in churches to avoid deportation.
For more information or to get involved in supporting RARP:
(604) 682-3269 x 7149
Refugees Against Racial Profiling,
C/o No One is Illegal
Palestine Community Center
Vancouver V5N 2S7
- Order the RARP publication (by donation) as an educational tool for your organization
- Endorse the demands as a supporting organization
- Announce and Support our Activities, Events and Actions
- Contribute Resources such as access to printing, photocopying, translation.
- Financial Contribution
- Contact Immigration Officials in support of the demands.
Judy Sgro, P.C., M.P.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1
Fax: 613 947 8319, Tel: 613 992 7774
Anne McLellan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
c/o Solicitor General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6
Fax: 613 990-9077, Tel: 613 991 2924
Refugees Against Racial Profiling has recently formed as an organization to protest against the Canadian governments continuing policy of detention and deportations of asylum seekers.
The domestic consequences of the “War on Terrorism” includes massive arrests and the interrogation of immigrants and refugees, the passing of legislation granting intelligence and law enforcement agencies much broader powers of intrusion into the private lives of people, pervasive government and media censorship of information, the silencing of dissent, and widespread racial profiling and criminalization of Muslim, Arab and South Asian communities.
Legislation such as the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Statutes of Canada 2001, and the Anti-Terrorism Act has strengthened the association between terrorism and immigration. The ability of the Canadian government to impose such major legislation despite the resounding resistance of affected communities says multitudes about democracy and equal rights.
Increasing detention and deportation statistics and decreasing acceptance rates continue to criminalize refugees who fight for basic survival. The new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act promised a Refugee Appeal division within one year, i.e. by June 2003, which is yet to be implemented. Furthermore the IRB has been “streamlined” such that the life and fate of people is completely in the hands of one judge; judges who do not necessarily have any background in the law, rather who are appointees enforcing the political agenda of the government. A new department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is taking over the responsibility for deportations from Immigration Canada, casting migrant removals as an issue of public safety. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada records of 2002, of the 440 people being held in Canadian detentions at any given point in time, only 5 people had actual allegations of ‘being a threat to national security’ laid on them.
We reject the logic that refugees are terrorists or make Canada unsafe. For members of immigrant and refugee communities, the handling of cases such as Project Thread sends a clear message that the Canadian government practices racial profiling. Security certificates have been used to arbitrarily detain Muslim men on so-called secret evidence in complete defiance of their basic civil rights. When detained under such an Orwellian-measure, there is no chance of bail for refugees, detention can be indefinite, and neither the person detained nor a defence lawyer is allowed access to the heart of the evidence on grounds of "national security”.
Meanwhile, refugees and those without status are forced to silence dissent in fears of being deported.
We came to Canada because we knew and heard about democracy and human rights in this country and because we hoped to live a peaceful and safe life while being able to contribute to society. However, we are still anxious and extremely fearful as the Canadian government has disregarded our humanity and handed all of us death sentences in the form of removal orders.
There has always been racism in Canada's refugee and immigration policies built into the very structure of the system. The exclusion of Chinese migrants after Confederation, the internment of Japanese-Canadians during World War II and the refusal of Jewish refugees in the “None is too Many” policy after World War II are three well-known examples. This mistreatment was clearly fed by racist prejudice and these chapters in Canadian history are recognized as shameful, and yet are being repeated.
1) AN END TO ALL RACISM IN THE REFUGEE DETERMINATION SYSTEM THAT RESULTS IN UNFAIR AND INHUMAN DEPORTATIONS AND DETENTIONS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO:
- The abolition of Security Certificates, which violates the presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial.
- Implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division
- An end to the political appointment process and single-member “panel” of the Immigration and Refugee board that results in a lottery system for survival.
2) REGULARIZED STATUS FOR ALL ASYLUM SEEKERS
Appeal from RARP
Members of RARP along with No One is Illegal-Vancouver (NOII) have been working over the past few months to launch several campaigns to stop and fight back against the unjust and inhuman deportations by Citizenship and
RARP and NOII have recently completed an informational package for organizations, community groups and individuals on the racism rampant in the refugee determination process, with a focus on post 9/11 legislative changes, a discussion on Canadian law and international obligations, as well as outlining the campaign for regularization of status.
This is an appeal to support RARP financially through a donation or by offering photocopying resources to produce this package. RARP and NOII are both grassroots organizations with absolutely no current funding. We are aiming to raise 600$ to cover copying costs.
In the past few months, RARP and NOII have been working intensively on legal advocacy. Due to the legal aid cuts (only in the past few months has some limited tokenistic funding been restored), organizers and members of RARP and NOII have engaged in politically-conscious legal advocacy work and been drafting legal submissions and sharing legal information to support other refugees. At present, all submissions have been completed, yet the filing costs of each individual claim is over 550$. While most are struggling to pay this (which for one family can total over 2000$), others are completely unable to meet the costs by the deadline. Any support for this legal work is also deeply appreciated. Legal defense is certainly a practical and tangible means of supporting those who face violent and volatile situations if deported.
If you can donate, please send a cheque to "Harjap Grewal" to the following address: No One is Illegal c/o Palestine Community Center 1874 Kingsway Vancouver, BC Canada, V5N 2S7
Please indicate "RARP" in the memo line of the cheque. Please also let us know if you are able to offer photocopying resources or if you're sending money.
In solidarity and struggle, No One is Illegal-Vancouver
SUPPORTERS OF REFUGEES AGAINST RACIAL PROFILING:
Palestine Community Center, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, Anti-Poverty Committee Vancouver, Downtown East Side Residents Association, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, No One is Illegal-Montreal, No one is Illegal-Toronto, Project Threadbare, Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Montreal, Students Taking Action in Chiapas, Justice for Adil Charkaoui, Homes Not Bombs Toronto, Campaign Against Secret Trials in Canada, No One is Illegal-Winnipeg, International Solidarity Movement-Vancouver, Palestine Solidarity Group-Vancouver, Rainbow Refugee Committee Vancouver, Salaam Vancouver,
INTERVIEW WITH A PALESTINIAN REFUGEE,
MEMBER OF REFUGEES AGAINST RACIAL PROFILING:
A Palestinian refugee living in Vancouver was recently denied refugee status. The Immigration & Refugee Board (IRB) member ruled that he was Jordanian and therefore could return to Jordan without any risks, despite the fact that all his documents prove that he is Palestinian.
Q: Describe the living conditions in Qalquilia under occupation, during the first uprising. What kinds of dangers were you facing?
A: Living under occupation was tough before the uprising. After the start of the uprising, the violent oppression from the Israeli army was worse. My life was turned upside-down. We were under constant curfews, without electricity, without water and without phones. I remember the longest curfew, when I was there, was 27 days. Every four days we had two hours to go out shopping and there was still no guarantee that you would be safe. If one stone were thrown at the Israeli soldiers in that time, curfew would be immediately enforced again with arrests, beatings and shootings. One day during curfew, we heard a bang at the door from the Israeli army. My brother and I knew what was going to happen, because we had seen it many times before. They took my brother and I to the station a kilometer away and beat us there. While we were at the station, we witnessed the most horrifying beatings by the Israeli army, against seven Palestinian men. It’s the scariest thing in my life, the soldiers were beating them so hard that the batons were breaking upon impact. We spent a day and a half there until they released us in the middle of the night. Being seen on the street during curfew, a lot of the times meant being shot at by the army. It was dangerous. My life totally changed after that, nine months into the first uprising. It was the most horrible time. I still suffer from that. There is no way to describe the fear and the horror when there’s nothing you can do.
Q: What are the steps you have gone through in the refugee process in Canada?
The first step is the hearing, where they determine if you are a refugee or not. Unfortunately, the member of the IRB was not satisfied with any of my official documents. Really, she has no basis. I have all my original documents, official documents, by the Jordanians, by the Palestinian Authority, by the Israeli authorities and the United Nations (UNRWA). I am Palestinian. I am not Jordanian.
Q: What changes should be made to the refugee process?
A: There is no doubt in my mind that it is fair and just that Palestinians need to be recognized as refugees, because we are recognized by the Geneva Conventions as refugees and because of what is happening there. It has ruined my life. I am always living in fear. I can’t get rid of this fear.
Q: What do you think people can do to specifically help your case?
A: I think if more Canadian citizens became aware of what is happening, about the process a refugee is going through, they might support a more just process. People were protesting that there should be an appeal process, because it is a fact that some people will be unfairly denied. “No One Is Illegal” is giving me a lot of support, by trying to show people that regardless what the judge decided, that I am Palestinian. I admire that and I appreciate their work.
Q: If Canada decides to deport you, where will they send you?
A: That’s the thing. They have to arrange things with the Jordanians. The Jordanians are going to say, “This guy is not Jordanian, he’s Palestinian.” One thing that I am worried about is if the Jordanians take me and try to send me to the West Bank. I don’t want to go back there, under the circumstances. If the Canadians want to cut it short, they could send me back to the US. It’s a never-ending cycle. I’m exhausted mentally and physically. Where can I go? I don’t know. It’s tough. Not knowing what might happen is the worst thing.
Interview by Johanna, a Vancouver resident and an activist with the International Solidarity Movement. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org