Friday, January 18, 2008

In November 2005 Abelkader Belaouni (Kader) was told that his application to stay in Canada was rejected and that he would be deported. Kader's refugee claim was rejected by an Immigration and Refugee Board Commissioner, Laurier Thibault, who refused 99% of the cases before him in a two year period. Later decisions by Immigration Canada failed to take into account the fact that Kader is blind, and, as such, experiences significant discrimination and barriers, in particular when it comes to finding stable employment.
Kader's life has already been uprooted twice. The first time by the brutal civil war in Algeria, which saw hundreds of thousands of civilians die; the second time by the post September 11th Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) "special registration" program in the United States which applied to all men born in Muslim-majority countries living in the United States. Facing deportation from Canada Kader took the courageous decision to stand up for his dignity as a human being and insist on his right to stay.
His struggle mirrors that of many other refugees and migrants in Canada, and around the world ,who are uprooted, denied the right to seek a life of security and dignity, economically marginalized, forced to live in precarity, imprisoned and threatened with deportation. Kader's decision to stay in Canada has met with an outpouring of support from his friends, as well as individuals and organizations across Quebec, Canada and even internationally. Over 70 organizations and networks, representing over 250 groups in Quebec alone, support status for Kader, including community organizations from his neighbourhood, student organizations, disability rights groups, migrant-justice groups, faith-based organizations and human rights organizations such as Amnesty International.
Two years is two too many !. The Minister of Immigration of Canada, Diane Finlay, has the power to act at any time to regularize Kader's status. Since January 1, 2006 Kader has been in sanctuary at St. Gabriel's Church in Montreal. His supporters are asking that you call the offices of Minister Finlay today (phone # 613-996-4974) to tell her that
A. You understand that Mr. Belaouni's refugee claim was rejected by an adjudicator who had rejected 99% of the claims he heard over a two year period !
B. Mr Belaouni has made a life for himself here, and has the support of over 70 organizations. He faces danger in the country of his origin, Algeria, as a result of his blindness and would face undue hardship if deported !
C. He has been forced to live in Church sanctuary for two years- too long !
More background on this case can be found at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for getting the word out about this important issue. Immigrant's rights and dignity are an important issue for me because immigrants are the canary in the coal mind in terms of civil liberties.

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