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April 14, 2010

Harper still hounds Abdelrazik

Reuel S. Amdur

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Well, in spite of all the deviousness and outright lies of the Tory government and then-Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, the pressure of concerned citizens and a court order by Justice Russel Zinn prevailed.

Canada finally arranged Abousfian Abdelrazik’s return from Sudan on June 27, 2009.  A victory for human rights.  Aside from his law suit against the Canadian government and Lawrence Cannon, that should be the end of the story, right?  Wrong.  Let me explain.

As you may remember, Abdelrazik was stranded in Sudan since he went to visit his sick mother in 2003, arrested at Canada’s request on two occasions, when he was tortured. 

It was alleged that he was connected to terrorism.  He ended his stay in Sudan living in the Canadian embassy.  Various Canadian officials visiting Sudan, including then-Prime Minister Paul Martin, would not return him with them.

 One alibi that Canada used in refusing to assist him to return, or even to give him a new passport or a travel document, was that he would be unable to get a flight because his name was on the list under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267, which would, it was thought, prevent any airline from taking him. 

His lawyer Yavar Hameed found an airline that would do so, thus blowing Canada’s alibi.  While Lawrence Cannon was not through with his slippery maneuvers, his game was up, and the judge made the Tories yield and bring him back. 

However, Resolution 1267 still hangs over his head.  That document continues to list him as a terrorist suspect. 

While Canada did request his removal from the list in 2007, after his name was cleared by both the RCMP and CSIS (Canadian Security and Intelligence Service), the Security Council did not give unanimous approval, and therefore his name stands. 

It is generally believed that the United States prevented the removal of his name. 

Interestingly, even after Canada’s request to remove his name, Canada continued to keep him stranded in Sudan.  And when he was prepared, with ticket in hand, to leave Khartoum, Cannon at the last minute refused him a travel document on grounds that he was a security threat.  Strange. 

Abdelrazik is back in Montreal with his family, which is all well and good.

 However, he still feels the full weight of 1267.  It means that he is forbidden to fly or own firearms, and his assets are frozen.

Flying is not a pressing problem, now that he is home in Montreal, and he has no need for weapons.  However, the assets freeze is another matter.

The freeze means that it is illegal for anyone to collect for him or provide to him any funds, or to facilitate any property transactions. 

In concrete terms, that means no bank account and no job.  Technically, even help from his family is illegal.  In short, the provisions of 1267 would, if fully implemented against him, leave him to starve to death in the street.

Justice Zinn had this to say about 1267. 

It is “a denial of basic legal remedies and . . . untenable under the principles of international human rights.  There is nothing in the listing or de-listing procedure that recognizes the principles of natural justice or that provides for basic procedural fairness.” 

So does 1267 bind Canada from providing Abdelrazik any relief? 

To answer that question we need to look at what happened to another man whose name was on the list.

Liban Hussein, a Somali-born Canadian, was arrested in Canada on November 7, 2001, at the request of the United States. They suspected that his money transfer business was in some way linked to al-Qaeda.  His name was added to that same list.

Some months later, Canada found that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by Hussein, and charges were dropped, both in Canada and in the United States, and his name was removed from the list—after his businesses had been ruined, incidentally. 

However—and this is where his case becomes pertinent to Abdelrazik’s situation—even before Hussein’s name was removed from the list, Canada exempted him from the regulations implementing 1267. 

So there is nothing preventing the government from exempting Abdelrazik. 

Project Fly Home is the movement that collected the money—illegally, since Abdelrazik was on the list—to buy an airplane ticket to bring him back to Canada. 

Now Project Fly Home is organizing a “Sanctions-Busting Telethon” on April 28, to raise funds for a court fight to make the Conservatives allow him to work, earn, and bank. 

To take part in the telethon, call 1-877-737-4070 on April 28, from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. 

If you are in Montreal, you can also attend a sanctions-busting spaghetti dinner at the Georges Vanier Cultural Centre, 2450, Workman St., at 6 p.m. that day. 

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