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(Toronto) Being Pakistani Is NOT A Crime! Rally Sat., Sept. 27

>>>>>>>>>>PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY!<<<<<<<<<<

Community rally
Saturday, September 27
Immigration & Refugee Board offices
74 Victoria Street
(east of Yonge, north of Adelaide)

Join us as we gather together to oppose the arrest and
detention of our south Asian brothers and to
demonstrate our support for their release. This
peaceful community rally will include speakers from
various communities and a short march. Spread the
word (e-as to follow). All welcome.

In solidarity,
Project Threadbare Coalition.

For more information or to endorse the campaign to free the detainees, please phone 416.579.0481 or e-mail project_threadbare@yahoo.ca

Who we are:

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. None of the men have committed a crime and 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. Our aim is to win the release of all the men by building a mass campaign in communitites across the city. We also seek to raise awareness about the government's attacks on civil liberties in general and on immigrants, refugees, and non-status persons in particular. 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. Join us! STOP THE DETENTIONS NOW! DEFEND CIVIL LIBERTIES!

Backgrounder to the case:

Nineteen men were arrested in pre-dawn raids in the Toronto area on August 14 on the 'grounds' that they might pose a threat to national security. Two more men have since been arrested. But neither the Department of Citizenship and Immigration nor the RCMP - the bodies which jointly carried out the arrests - have produced one shred of hard evidence to warrant holding the men. Under the so-called Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the federal government can detain indefinitely (and without laying charges) any landed immigrant or foreign national who is considered to be a threat to national security. Not one of the men has yet been charged with a crime.

Among the 'evidence' produced so far is the fact that the men lived in "clusters of four or five" and kept a "minimal standard of living" (hardly shocking behaviour among students). One of the men was enrolled in flight school to become a commercial pilot (again, not exactly shocking behaviour for someone studying to become a pilot).

A document produced by the RCMP refers to the men's place of origin as a factor in making them terror suspects: "the Punjab province in Pakistan is noted for Sunni extremism".

But as Tarek Fatah wrote in the Toronto Star, "Does this make me, a Sunni Muslim from Punjab, a suspected terrorist? Any student of Pakistan would know that suggesting Punjab is a hotbed of Sunni extremism is totally false, baseless, mischievous, and amounts to the dangerous racial profiling of a people. Historically, Punjab has been a thorn in the side of Islamic extremists as it is home to a more Sufi stream within Islam. Since the early 1900s, the Islamic parties have failed to make any impact in Punjab. Even during the last elections when the neo-Taliban parties won elsewhere, Punjab proved barren territory for them."

Twenty of the men are from the Punjab province in Pakistan and one is from southern India. Most of the men, between the ages of 19 and 33, are being held without bail in the Maplehurst Correctional Centre. Although two of the men have been released - on the orders of government adjudicators who argued that there's no evidence to hold them - and one has been released on bail, the rest remain in custody and still face no charges. One government lawyer went so far as to say that the men could be part of an Al-Qaeda terrorist sleeper cell.

But despite what 'evidence' authorities have presented, even RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli has said "there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that there's any terrorist threat anywhere in the country related to this investigation."

This is a clear case of racial profiling and an attack on civil liberties. The police have only targeted these men because they're Muslim and/or from Pakistan or India - they have done nothing else to be accused of being terrorists. But being Pakistani is NOT a crime and Islam is NOT our enemy. Release all of the men now, stop racial profiling, and defend civil liberties!