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No One Is Illegal

The No One is Illegal campaign is in full confrontation with Canadian colonial border policies, denouncing and taking action to combat racial profiling of immigrants and refugees, detention and deportation policies, and wage-slave conditions of migrant workers and non-status people.

We struggle for the right for our communities to maintain their livelihoods and resist war, occupation and displacement, while building alliances and supporting indigenous sisters and brothers also fighting theft of land and displacement.

contact NOII-Van:
email: noii-van@resist.ca
tel: 604-682-3269 +7149

 
 

Deportation Halted

By Charlie Smith

Georgia Straight
Publish Date: 13-Jan-2005

A Toronto immigration lawyer has suggested there could be far-reaching implications to a January 10 Federal Court decision "staying" a deportation order issued against Ali-Reza Monemi. After the 27-year-old North Vancouver resident was taken into custody on January 7, his brother, Mohammed, and other supporters went on a hunger strike in subzero temperatures outside the downtown immigration office at Library Square.

Lorne Waldman, one of Monemi's lawyers, successfully argued in Federal Court on January 10 that the deportation order should be stayed pending Monemi's application for judicial review of the enforcement officer's refusal to defer his removal. Waldman told the Straight that he argued in court that the officer didn't take into consideration new evidence arising out of last month's deportation of another Iranian refugee claimant, 30-year-old women's-rights activist Haleh Sabha. Sabha's friends have claimed that upon her return to Iran in early December, she was detained for 26 hours and charged because she didn't have proper travel documents.

"We shouldn't be deporting people back to countries if the process of deporting them is going to put them at risk," Waldman said. "Ultimately, I think this is the significance of this case."

Waldman also represents Ottawa resident Maher Arar, who was deported from the U.S. to Syria, where Arar claims he was tortured. Waldman acted for Monemi on a pro bono basis. "If we were dealing with people who posed a threat to security, then one could understand the zeal that was shown in this case to try to get rid of a person," Waldman said. "But there's nothing of that here in Ms. Sabha's or Mr. Monemi's cases."

Citizenship and Immigration Canada did not return a call from the Straight.

Another chance for freedom

Refugee claimant fears flogging in Iran; won’t be sent home yet

by Ian King

Terminal City
Jan, 13 2005

An Iranian man who says he was flogged in his home country because of his friendship with a married woman won another chance to stay in Canada.

On Monday, a federal judge granted 28-year-old refugee claimant Alireza Monemi a temporary injunction barring his deportation, and sent his case back to the Immigration and Refugee Board for further review. The board had previously turned down Monemi’s claim. Monemi’s reprieve came on the day before he was scheduled to be deported.

Monemi, who has been living in North Vancouver for the past six years, claimed he would face a potentially fatal flogging if he were sent back home; his supporters congregated downtown this past weekend to stage a hunger strike and bring attention to the conditions that deportees face on their return to Iran.

Monemi ran afoul of Iran’s strict morality laws in 1998. His purported offence would be considered unremarkable in the Western world.

Monemi was arrested for allegedly carrying on a relationship with a married woman. The relationship is not what most Westerners think when they imagine such a relationship. Monemi says that he was prosecuted for a platonic friendship, not a sexual one.

“Oh, no, no, no,” he said when asked if he had committed adultery. “I met her in a park; we would talk and hold hands. That is it. That was what I was arrested for. They then charged me, put me on trial, and whipped me.”

An Iranian court found him guilty of conducting “unethical sexual relations” with the woman. In the Islamist theocracy of Iran, this is an offence punishable by extensive flogging or worse. For violating of Iran’s moral codes, Monemi received more than 60 lashings. Shortly thereafter, he fled.

Monemi arrived in Canada in 1999 and claimed refugee status upon his arrival. Since that time, he has been living with his family in North Vancouver and working various jobs to support himself. He has since made extensive connections in the North Shore’s large Iranian expatriate community.

“He’s become a part of the community since he arrived in Canada,” said supporter Saba Hamed, at the rally to protest his deportation. “He works—pays taxes like everyone else–—and they want to deport him.”

After he left Iran, a court convicted Monemi in absentia of further moral offences and sentenced him to an additional 84 lashes, three months in prison, followed by a year of exile in a remote part of the country, all of which he would serve upon his return.

The Immigration and Refugee Board denied Monemi’s refugee claim at a hearing last March, disagreeing with Monemi and lawyer Peter Larlee’s claims that Monemi would face cruel and unusual punishment on his return to Iran. At the hearing, Larlee presented as part of the evidence a series of photographs of Monemi’s scarred back, and a doctor’s deposition that the marks were consistent with the beatings that Monemi claimed to have received at the hands of Iran’s morality squad.

Monemi’s brother Mohammed feared that deportation would mean death. “If he goes back to Iran, the lashings may kill Alireza,” Mohammed Monemi said. “The Iranian government is cruel to those who leave and are sent back.”

On January 7, Monemi’s final appeal was denied by the board and he was ordered to be deported on Tuesday, January 11. He was detained until his deportation after the board determined he was a flight risk.

On the day of his appeal denial, Monemi’s family and supporters began a hunger strike in front of Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s downtown offices to protest his pending departure.

Monemi’s supporters settled in for a weekend-long camp-out downtown. In the next two days, the protest grew from roughly a dozen people to over 30. The original crowd was joined by a number of Iranian expatriates and members of the No One Is Illegal activist group.

Larlee applied to the Federal Court for an injunction to stop the deportation. He was granted a hearing for the following Monday, the day before Monemi was to be put on a plane to Tehran. Even after he learned that his brother had one last chance to remain in Canada, Mohammed Monemi was not optimistic about Alireza’s chances after their previous experiences in front of the refugee board.

“They didn’t believe any of his case. Whatever we said, whatever we warned about the lashings Alireza would face in Iran, they wouldn’t accept it.”

Mohammed Monemi was wrong. The judge granted Alireza Monemi a temporary injunction against the deportation, ordering the refugee board to re-evaluate the order in light of the treatment he would face if he were to return to Iran. That same day, Monemi was released to his family on a $3,000 bail bond.

Although Monemi can remain in Canada for now, the judge’s ruling did not overturn the refugee board’s original decision. Monemi expects that the board will finish its re-evaluation within the next month.

Interview with Tammy Sadeghi

SEVEN QUESTIONS: Tammy Sadeghi

Seven Oaks Magazine
January 11, 2005
Derrick O'Keefe

Ali Reza Monemi is an Iranian refugee facing deportation from Canada on Tuesday, January 11. Over the weekend Monemi was detained by Immigration Canada, while his family and supporters waged a hunger strike and rallied outside the government offices and detention center, campaigning for his release and for his right to stay in Canada.

Tammy Sadeghi spoke with Seven Oaks about Monemi’s case and the ongoing struggle of refugees against deportation. Sadeghi works with the Vancouver coordinator of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees, which, together with the Coalition to Defend Iranian Refugee Rights and No One Is Illegal, has been working to defend the rights of refugees in Canada.

1. Could you tell us about Ali Reza Monemi?

Ali Monemi has been here for six years. His family has been here for ten years, and they are Canadian citizens who have all been working since they came here – even Ali. He was working at Sportmart, and he had a cleaning business, and he was a really good painter. He was working hard and being a good citizen.

2. And under what circumstances did he come from Iran to Canada?

When his family left Iran, he couldn’t leave because he was eighteen years old, and in Iran there is a rule that when you are eighteen you have to serve in the military for two years. They did not allow him to leave the country. After he finished his military service, his father tried to sponsor him and bring him here but his file got rejected.

3. Just last month, there was the case of the deportation of Haleh Sahba from Canada, who was jailed upon arrival in Iran. Could you explain Haleh’s case?

Haleh Sahba was here for six years. She was working. All her family is here, they are citizens – her parents, her sister, brother, everybody. But they deported her to Iran, and she was in custody until her family paid her cash bail to release her from custody. She’s now waiting for her trial in Iran. Now a similar case is happening here, with Ali, and he’s going to be deported tomorrow. He doesn’t have travel documents, which, by itself, endangers his situation if he goes back to Iran. And we don’t know what’s going to happen to him.

4. And Ali has faced torture before in Iran?

Yes, he got lashes before, 60 lashes, just simply for having a relationship with a woman. If he goes back, we don’t what’s going to happen. Lashes are a minimum thing you can get in Iran.

5. What do you think of the Canadian government’s role, which on one hand denounces the government of Iran for violating human rights, yet continues to deport people there?

I think this is a double standard. On one hand they condemn Iran for violating human rights, while they continue to send refugees back to that country. On the other hand, they easily allow entrance to Iranian government members, because they bring money here. And they get their landed immigrant status so easily. We see a lot of them here, they have mansions in West Vancouver or in Coquitlam.

6. As an exile yourself, what kind of social and political change do you hope to see in Iran, and how to think it is going to come about?

I feel that Iran is facing another Revolution. If you follow the news in Iran, you see that workers are on strike, students are rising up, and people are upset about this brutal government that we have there.

7. What are you encouraging the public to do, to protest against this deportation and others like it?

I think that, first of all, people should educate themselves about how racist the Canadian immigration system is. And secondly, we hope that people will please write to, or call, their MP, support Ali and his family to put pressure on Immigration Canada to stop this terrible deportation to Iran.

 

Iranian man wins reprieve

CBC News
Jan 10 2005 07:32 PM

VANCOUVER - A Federal Court judge has granted a stay of the federal Immigration deportation order against a 27-year-old Iranian – while officials assess the risk if he were sent back.

Ali-Reza Monemi came to Canada six years ago, claiming refugee status. On Friday he was told his refugee claim was denied and that he would be deported on Tuesday. Immigration then decided to jail him over the weekend as a flight risk. His friends and family then began a hunger strike to bring attention to his cause.

On Monday morning, the judge ruled that he should be released into the custody of his family on a $3,000-bond for his last 24 hours in Canada.

Monemi claims that if he goes back to Iran he will be in great physical danger, so he is appealing on humanitarian reasons. He worries that he still faces three months in prison, a year in exile and 84 lashes for what an Iranian court called "unethical sexual relations" – holding hands and talking with a married woman.

He and his family are afraid he will face the same treatment as Haleh Sahba, a women's rights activist, deported back to Iran from Vancouver last month. She was detained for 26 hours in an Iranian jail upon arrival.

His lawyer, Peter Larlee, argued that Monemi would be at risk. And that officials have to look at what's happened to other people deported to Iran. "Failed refugee claimants who are sent back to Iran are treated very harshly," he says. "And we also know that the immigration department is sending people back without proper travel documents. "And this brings the returnees, the failed refugee claimants, clearly to the attention of Iranian authorities."

* INDEPTH: Refugees in Canada: Fact & Fiction

* INDEPTH: Refugee statistics

Victory for Refugee in Vancouver

Indymedia - Victoria
by r_
Monday January 10, 2005 at 06:21 PM

    In a surprise last minute decision, Citizenship and Immigration Canada decided to cancel the deportation Ali Reza Monemi scheduled for Tuesday. Supporter rallied outside CIC offices at 5 PM Monday afternoon and called it an important victory for refugee rights in Canada. CIC has been increasing hostile to legitimate refugee claimants in the last few years.

In a surprise last minute decision, Citizenship and Immigration Canada decided to cancel the deportation Ali Reza Monemi scheduled for Tuesday. Supporter rallied outside CIC offices at 5 PM Monday afternoon and called it an important victory for refugee rights in Canada. CIC has been increasing hostile to legitimate refugee claimants in the last few years.

Mr Ali Reza Monemi received a deportation order on January 7, 2005 back to Iran on Tuesday January 11. He pleaded with Immigration officials to receive more time to arrange his affairs before his deportation but his request was refused and he was promptly detained. Mr. Ali, like many other Iranian refugees, is facing deportation to a country despite grave danger to his life. According to medical reports, Mr Monemi has already suffered sixty lashes at the hand of the Morality Police and he has been sentenced to 85 more lashings, imprisonment and excommunication within Iran. He also faces the possibility of death for fleeing the country in 1999 before his punishment could be carried out and for making a refugee claim in Canada.

Immigration Canada in the past has claimed that they have no evidence of any danger inflicted upon anyone who was deported to Iran, but the recent highly-publicized case of Haleh Sahba (a womens rights activist deported from Vancouver exactly one month ago on Dec 7) has proven otherwise. It has been widely reported that Haleh was detained for 26 hours. Like Haleh Sahba, Ali is being sent back to Iran without adequate travel documents.

On November 5, 2004 Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew announced that Canada tabled a resolution at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly, on the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran and the Canadian government maintains a travel advisory to Iran for Canadians. Meanwhile, Immigration Canada is sending Iranians back to serious danger

With new immigration and security laws introduced after 9-11, the regressive nature of Canada's immigrant and security laws have increased. New laws and policy changes are transforming Canada and the US into Fortress North America. The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act has made it more difficult to obtain status in Canada -- whether as an immigrant or refugee -- while making detentions and deportations easier.

The"safe third country" agreement, implemented on December 29, 2004, will allow the immediate removal of any refugee claimant who enters Canada via the United States. This accounts for up to 40% of all refugee claimants. The Anti-Terrorism Act provides unprecedented powers to police and government officials, including detention without trial and secret evidence. Instead of providing a fair hearing to refugee claimants, the IRB acts as a confrontational tribunal, populated by judges notorious and even charged for their incompetence, political partisanship, and in many cases, corruption.

Moreover, the new refugee determination system has no appeal process for a rejected claim, although Minister Coderre promised that the Refugee Appeal Division would be implemented in Canada by June 2003. Meanwhile, all the other avenues such as the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment process are deeply flawed, as statistically over 95% of refugees are unable to obtain a positive PRRA decision and refugees are allowed to be deported while still waiting for a decision on a pending Humanitarian and Compassionate claim.

Iranian man to remain in Canada to fight deportation order

CKNW
Jan, 10 2005 - 6:00 PM

VANCOUVER(CKNW/AM980) -- A four-day hunger strike in Vancouver was not in vain.

The supporters of an Iranian man facing deportation from Canada cheered when they heard Ali Reza Monemi now has up to 8 months to prove he shouldn't be deported back to his native country.

A federal court judge in Ottawa has ruled Monemi's life may be in danger if he's sent back to Iran this week.

Outside the Citizenship and Immigration office where Monemi's refugee status was rejected last Friday, his brother Mohammad thanked all his supporters for taking part in a hunger strike.

Monemi contends he'll face persecution upon his return for holding the hand of a married woman -- which is against Islamic law.

Hunger strike continues over latest deportation to Iran

The Province
January 9, 2005

Yesterday's steady snow and temperatures hovering around the freezing point didn't shake the resolve of the supporters of Ali Reza Monemi.

It was Day 2 of a hunger strike aimed at drawing attention to Friday's order by Immigration Canada to deport the 27-year-old North Vancouverite back to his native Iran.

Monemi's brother Mohammad, the lone hunger striker among about 15 supporters camped out in front of the CIC offices at 300 West Georgia yesterday, said the weather was nothing compared to what Ali was facing.

"It's pretty cold out here but compared to Ali being in jail and being sent back to Iran, it's not even comparable," said Mohammad, 22.

Ali Monemi, who has lived in Canada for five years, received a deportation order for Tuesday but will have a review hearing tomorrow.
© The Vancouver Province 2005

Man On Hunger Strike

CTV
January 8, 2005

The snow and freezing temperatures left many people looking for a place to stay warm. But one Vancouver man spent the day shivering on the steps of the downtown Vancouver immigration offices.

It's one a.m, and as the snow falls in downtown Vancouver, Mohammed Monemi paces to keep warm.

Late this morning, Mohammed is still camped out in front of the immigration office.

He says he won’t eat anything or go anywhere until his brother is allowed to stay in Canada.

Twenty-eight-year-old Aliraza Monemi came to BC six years ago, after he was lashed 80 times by the Iranian government for holding hands with a married woman. He found a job and had hoped to stay here with his parents and brother who are Canadian citizens.   But yesterday, Ali was ordered deported.

Last night, Mohammed, his parents and supporters began a sit-in and hunger strike as a last ditch attempt to delay Ali's deportation scheduled for Tuesday.

Dozens turned out to support the Monemis, including Ali's MP, Don Bell.

Mohammed says that kind of support kept him going through the cold night.

The Monemis hope publicity from the sit-in and hunger strike will convince a federal court judge to grant Ali a stay on Monday. If he's deported, Mohammed fears he'll never see his brother again.

Iranian maybe deported

News 1130
January 07, 2005 - 8:37 pm


By: Kate Forman/Claudia Kwan


Relatives and family of an Iranian man are worried he will face persecution if he's deported from Canada. Ali Monemi is in jail, waiting for a last ditch hearing on Monday on his immigration case. Now his loved ones are on a hunger strike. His friend Harsha Wahlia says he doesn't have a passport, which will land him in jail back in Iran. His family are all Canadian Citizens. He's facing whipping and jail time in Iran for a criminal conviction. That's the basis of his refugee claim, which has been denied. Monemi was also turned down for permanent residency when he applied outside of Canada five years ago because his parents can't sponsor him. Immigration Canada can't comment specifically on his case, but say due process is being followed here. As for claims deportations to Iran are unsafe, Immigration says 40 people have been deported there from the BC-Yukon region without any reports of mistreatment. 

Iranian Man Told To Leave Canada

CTV
January 7, 2005

An Iranian man fighting to stay in Canada has been arrested. Ali Reza Monemi has lived in the country for six years with his family, who are all Canadian Citizens. But now, he's been told he must leave by Tuesday. His family became emotional at the Immigartion office today, after they took the 28 year old away. Monemi left Iran six years ago. He says he had been lashed 60 times after he was found sitting with a married woman in a park. His family says he will face torture again if he returns to his homeland. Immigration officials arrested Monemi because they were afraid he would flee. He will have a detention hearing on Monday.

Refugee claimant faces lashing in Iran

CBC News
Posted Jan 7 2005 01:19 PM PST

VANCOUVER - An Iranian man who says he was flogged by Iranian officials for talking to a married woman has been taken into custody by Canadian Immigration officials and is facing deportation.

Ali Reza Monemi was ordered out of the country last March, and then granted a temporary reprieve.

Monemi has been in Canada for five years seeking refugee status.

He was arrested on Friday when he showed up for an interview with immigration officials.

Monemi's mother says she expects he will be sent back to Iran next week. There he faces three months in prison, a year in exile and 84 lashes for what an Iranian court called "unethical sexual relations."

Family spokesperson Tammy Sadeghi says Monemi will likely walk straight into the hands of Iranian security officials.

"He doesn't have travel documents and he was a refugee,"she says. "And we know that's dangerous for refugees who go back to Iran, we don't know what's going to happen to the#m"

Last year, Immigration Canada ruled that the treatment Monemi could face doesn't amount to unusual punishment. But Sadeghi says many people who are sent back to Iran under similar circumstances are never heard from again.

Last year, an Iranian man who had been granted refugee status in Canada was lashed by Iranian officials before the could leave the country. He died a short time later.

North Van man faces lashing if deported

CBC.ca
March 5, 2004
 
VANCOUVER - A 27 year-old Iranian man who says he was flogged by Iranian officials is being deported back to his native country where he has been sentenced to another severe lashing.
 
Ali Reza Monemi has been living in North Vancouver with his parents and brother since escaping to Canada four years ago.

He says he was whipped more than 60 times without a trial for talking to a married woman in a public park.

The Iranian courts have since found him guilty of "unethical sexual relations" – and sentenced him to three months in prison, a year exiled to a remote region of Iran plus 84 more strokes with the whip.
 
Monemi worries that could be a death sentence.

But Immigration Canada officials have ruled that Monemi will not face unusual treatment or punishment if returned to Iran – and have ordered him deported within the next two weeks.

His lawyer, Peter Larlee says a doctor who specializes in analyzing torture victims, has confirmed that the scars on Monemi's back came from lashings.
 
Larlee points to the recent case in which the brother of three women living in Richmond died after being flogged 80 times in Iran.

"There we have a situation where a young man was lashed to death, and my client was very nearly lashed to death," he says. "And we believe if he goes back to Iran, he very well could be lashed to death."

Larlee says he plans to appeal the Immigration ruling in the courts.