Ten Non-status Algerians Continue To Occupy Immigration Minister's Office

OTTAWA OCCUPATION UPDATE -- May 29, 2003, 5:30pm

Ten non-status Algerians continue to occupy Immigration Minister's office

Action Committee vows to stay the night until a face-to-face meeting with Coderre

[This update is based on firsthand reports, by cell phone, from members of the Action Committee of Non-Status Algerians, as well as supporters from the No One Is Illegal Campaign of Montreal, inside the occupation in Ottawa.]

At least ten non-status Algerians continue to occupy the offices of
Immigration Minister Denis Coderre in Ottawa today. They arrived this
afternoon, with other committee members and supporters, after a short trip
in two vans from Montreal. A delegation of non-status Algerians proceeded
to enter the main Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) building in
Ottawa, and walked past various security guards to enter the supposedly
"secure" reception area of Denis Coderre's offices, where they have
remained since approximately 2:30pm today.

The two principal demands of the Action Committee is a face-to-face
meeting with Minister Denis Coderre, and tangible, real answers concerning
the situation of non-status Algerians in Canada. These demands are in
addition to the core demands of the Action Committee, which they have
presented publicly since last fall: an end to all deportations; a return
of the moratorium on removals to Algeria; and the regularization of all
non-status persons.

At present, members of the non-status Action Committee are negotiating
with various liaison officials for the Minister, in the presence of RCMP
and Ottawa police officers (one of whom was patently racist against
Muslims, according to a direct report from inside the occupation).

According to a direct report inside the occupation, one official is
indicating that the Minister might meet with the non-status Algerians, but
only with 2 members. At previous delegation visits -- and there have been
at least a dozen organized since last fall -- the Action Committee has
refused to be divided, and have insisted on direct meetings involving all
concerned non-status people who are part of the delegation.

The focus of today's delegation to Coderre -- as outlined in a letter they
intend to present to him in person -- are the various non-status persons
excluded from consideration for immigration to Canada or Quebec. These
"excluded" include people with criminal records, who suffer a "double
penalty": punishment for their crimes (often crimes of poverty or charges
based on racial profiling) as well as deportation back to Algeria (a
potential death sentence for some). Other "excluded" include older
persons, people who can't afford immigration processing costs, and others
who have been arbitrarily declared outside the "special procedures" set up
the Immigration departments of Canada and Quebec.

[The unprecedented "special procedures" were hard won by the non-status
Action Committee, after a intense campaign of public awareness, delegation
visits to Immigration officials (including Coderre's riding office in
Montreal), self-organizing, petitions, letter-writing and direct action.
The crucial step was the decision of a non-status Algerian family to
publicly defy a deportation order and take refuge in a church. They, and
several other formerly non-status persons, are now in the process of
becoming landed immigrants.]

The morale of the occupiers in Coderre.s office is good. When asked, by
cell phone, if they intended to stay, the resounding roar by the occupiers
was "OUI!" The occupiers -- ten non-status Algerians and two members of
the No One Is Illegal campaign -- do not have access to toilet facilities
(although, an Immigration Canada closet has become an improvised rest
stop). Moreover, police and security officials are not permitting the
delivery of food or water.

In the lobby of the CIC building downstairs, as well as outside,
supporters are gathering, and there is a vigil of members of the
non-status Action Committee who did not make it upstairs, past security,
for the occupation. Supporters include members of Direct Action Casework
Ottawa (DACO), Anti-Capitalist Community Action (ACA), the NOWAR
coalition, and other groups and individuals. There is also a constant
media presence, as well as more and more police officers gathering. Some
Action Committee members feel the presence of media and supporters outside
will prevent immediate arrests, and lend tangible support to their
demands.

---> IF YOU LIVE IN THE OTTAWA-AREA, your solidarity presence at the CIC
building is requested. The building is located at the corner of Laurier
and Kent.

To send messages of support and solidarity, please e-mail
nooneisillegal@tao.ca and your messages will be passed on.

The Action Committee of Non-Status Algerians can be contacted at
cassdz@yahoo.fr. Background information to the case of non-status
Algerians is available at http://www.tao.ca/~cass (the website has not yet
been updated).

[Report by member of No One Is Illegal in Montreal. Audio reports are
forthcoming.]