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Detainees Being Deported, Project Threadbare Discovers During Hearing

The exact number of people deported was not known, nor whether other deportations took place before this weekend.

Project Threadbare also learned during the hearing that 2 of the 21 men initially detained were actually arrested on May 15, 2003. "This makes it almost five months of incarceration," said Project Threadbare member Govind Rao. "It's incredible that we're only hearing about this now. I think the public has a right to know these things, but I get the sense that the Ministry is deliberately keeping the public in the dark," he said.

In a hearing full of surprises, detainee Mohammed Asif Aziz was denied release on grounds of a "lack of credibility." While the government's case was "weak and without much relevance to any question of links with terrorism or threats to security," said Rao, "it was clear from very early on that there was never any intent to release Aziz."

Lawyer Tariq Shah, who represents a number of the 21 men, gave a passionate performance arguing Aziz's case, but to no avail. The next hearing for Aziz has been scheduled for November 9, 2003. It will take place either at Maplehurst Detention Centre in Milton, Ontario, the Metro West Detention Centre or at the Immigration and Refugee Board offices at 74 Victoria Street in downtown Toronto - where today's hearings were held.

Aziz was the only person to have his case heard before members of the public today. Two others, due to being refugee hearings, were closed to members of Project Threadbare or any other party directly involved in the case.

Project Threadbare is a city-wide coalition in Toronto, Ontario that came together in response to the arrest and detention of twenty Pakistani men and one south Indian man in August 2003. Three have been released on bail. None have been charged.

Project Threadbare alludes to the RCMP investigation called "Project Thread" which, although it has produced no hard evidence of any wrongdoing by any of the men, is the basis on which they've all been held. We are made up of members of the Pakistani and south Asian communities, cultural organisations, immigrant and refugee groups, anti-poverty organisations, political groups, faith groups, trade unionists, students, and concerned activists and individuals.

Contact: Govind Rao (416) 801-AZAD (2923)
Source: Frank Saptel

For more information or to endorse the campaign to free the detainees, please phone 416.801-AZAD (2923) or e-mail project_threadbare@yahoo.ca

Note: Punching Out (NEFAC-Toronto) is a member of the Project Threadbare Coalition