WE are happy to report some good news. We got a stay of removal from the Federal Court late this afternoon. This does not mean Mr. Ramadan's problems are over, but it does give us some breathing space, thanks largely to the public pressure of people like yourself. We CAN make a difference, and we will continue to follow Mr. Ramadan's case, one of the thousands of people (well over 13,000 now) subject to deportation to an uncertain fate every year in Canada. His case highlights the renewed need for a refugee appeal division and, in the interim, stronger measures such as the offer of church sanctuary, to pressure a government which is finding it all too easy to ignore us as it continues its daily, bureaucratic "removal" of human beings.
Please see below for more information...
Stop a Christmas Deportation to Torture:
Demand The Canadian Government Offer Protection to Syrian Refugee Ahmed Abou Ramadan and Halt A Deportation Scheduled for Thursday, December 22
WE NEED FOLKS CONCERNED ABOUT STOPPING A DEPORTATION TO TORTURE TO IMMEDIATELY CONTACT THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS, ANNE MCLELLAN, AND IMMIGRATION MINISTER JOE VOLPE AT THE NUMBERS BELOW, WITH A QUICK NOTE DEMANDING THAT THEY STOP THE DEPORTATION AND GRANT PROTECTION TO A SURVIVOR OF SYRIAN TORTURE
"Amnesty International believes that as a failed asylum seeker, with an expired passport who reports a period of previous incarceration for his political views Mr. Ramadan has reason to believe that he will be detained and possibly tortured if he is forcibly removed to Syria." Dec. 12, 2005
While politicians have said they will not violate the sanctity of the holiday season by campaigning for election over the Christmas break, the Canadian government has made no similar promise with respect to deportations to torture, where the grind of business as usual continues unabated.
Currently, the Government of Canada is preparing to deport on Thursday, December 22 Ahmed Abou Ramadan, a 68-year-old survivor of six years of detention and torture in Syria. Mr. Ramadan suffers epileptic seizures as a result of having had his head repeatedly smashed against Syrian prison walls. He frequently and without warning can blackout as a result.
That Canada would continue pursuing deportations to Syria in light of that regime's dismal human rights record as well as the revelations of Maher Arar, Ahmed El-Maati, Abdullah Almalki, Arwad Al-Buchi, and Muayyad Nureddin -- all Canadians tortured in Syria -- is reprehensible.
Mr. Ramadan says that he is a devout Muslim who was critical of the brutal Syrian regime both within and outside that country. In October 1985, he was arrested, tortured, and detained without charge or trial for six years. After his release, Syrian intelligence demanded that he act as an informant, but he refused. He was eventually able to find the right political connections to leave the country, and moved to the U.S. to stay with his oldest son. When Mr. Ramadan heard that Syria had declared an amnesty for, and released, many political detainees, he decided to return home. However, he was immediately arrested and punished for leaving without permission. He was jailed an additional two months, and upon release was often taken in by intelligence for questioning.
Fearing that the surveillance and harassment at the hands of Syrian authorities would never end, and that he might be arbitrarily imprisoned, Mr. Ramadan decided to leave Syria for good and came to Canada in 1999. Unfortunately, the government of Canada has come to the remarkable conclusion that Mr. Ramadan does NOT qualify as a Convention refugee (the acceptance rate for refugee claimants has gone from a high of over 80% to less than 40% over the past few years). The lack of a merit-based appeal process (promised in the last immigration act but still not established almost four years later) makes it even harder for folks like Mr. Ramadan.
In the opinion of groups such as Amnesty International, Mr. Ramadan is at risk of serious human rights abuses if returned to Syria.
The government of Canada is hoping to wash its hands of direct complicity in the matter by deporting Mr. Ramadan first to the United States, where he would likely be placed in detention for many months before acquiring the necessary paperwork for a return to torture. (The U.S. deported Canadian Maher Arar to torture in Syria). Conditions of immigration detention are miserable, and for a 68-year-old man with seizures which cause blackouts, it is a situation that is described by the Vermont Refugee Assistance and Vermont Immigration Project as "life threatening" for Mr. Ramadan. Indeed, a recent report broadcast on National Public Radio revealed immigrant detainees often suffer harsh conditions and abuse (in one immigration jail, for example, guards ordered dogs to attack immigrant detainees while at another detainees were handcuffed and beaten). The kind of medical attention required for someone of Mr. Ramadan's age and condition is simply not available there.
We are calling on Canada to stay the deportation pending consideration of a new pre-removal risk assessment, an application for which clearly shows that Mr. Ramadan is in need of protection and would likely face arrest, detention, torture, and possibly death if returned to Syria. Mr. Ramadan currently lives in Windsor with his daughter
In a document filed with the Federal Court, Mr. Ramadan says, "I cannot go back to Syria. If I am returned there I will be imprisoned for the rest of my life. Prison life in Syria is horrifying. I consider myself fortunate for surviving, but I do not want to experience Syrian Intelligence brutality again, not even for a moment."
1. Please write a letter to the following politicians and demand that they stop this deportation. Please cc firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you have written or called. Calls may work during this period since time is of the essence.
Anne McLellan, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (also in charge of the Canadian Border Services Agency), House of Commons, 306 Justice Building, Ottawa, K1A 0A6, (613) 992-4524, Fax: (613) 943-0044, McLellan.A@parl.gc.ca
Joe Volpe, Immigration Minister, Rm 658, Confederation Bldg, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6, (613) 992-6361, Fax: (613) 992-9791, email@example.com AND Minister@cic.gc.ca
Please CC Paul Martin at : firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Fax Removals Officer Placide Kalisa and politely, diplomatically, request that the removal be stopped until a proper assessment which will hopefully lead to protection is completed. Her fax is (519) 985-4756
Why is there no room at the Inn this holiday season? I am shocked to hear that a 68-year-old man who suffers from epilepsy -- a result of his six-year detention without charge or trial and torture at the hands of Syrian authorities -- is to be deported from Canada on Thursday, December 22.
According to Amnesty International, Syrian refugee claimant Ahmed Abou Ramadan "has reason to believe that he will be detained and possibly tortured if he is forcibly removed to Syria." Given that the deportation of Mr. Ramadan will mean he is soon back in Syrian hands violates Canada's commitment under international law never to return someone to torture.
Why would we deport a man who lives happily with his grown daughter and who has family ties here in Canada? There is nothing left for him in Syria other than shackles, detention, and torture.
Last week. Prime Minister Paul Martin stated that "there is such a thing as a global conscience." Increasingly, the use of torture and deportation to torture is condemned by the courts of civilized nations, yet Canada continues to engage in this cruel and heartless practice.
I urge you to reconsider the decision to deport Mr. Ramadan and to provide him with the protection that he so richly deserves.
(This appeal issued by Toronto Action for Social Change, PO Box 73620, 509 St Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0, email@example.com, (416) 651-5800, www.homesnotbombs.ca)
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