Toronto: Immigration Canada Cowers Behind Plexi-Glass

A large delegation of members of various community organizations,
including Project Threadbare and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty,
went today to the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre (GTEC) to demand a
meeting with Chris Raymond, the Manager of Removals directly responsible
for deportations of several men swept up in this summer's 'Project Thread'
set to take place tomorrow.

Deportations of Sagit Ahmad, Mohammed Asif, and Mohammed Imran, (the
latter two are still being held in maximum security prison at Maplehurst)
are set for Tuesday, October 28th. It has also been reported that an
unknown number of released detainees have been removed from the country
and that this trend will continue.

This past August, after having apartment doors kicked in and belongings
trashed, after being asked, "Are you Pakistani? Are you Muslim?" the men
were thrown into jail. None of the men have ever been charged.
Allegations of 'terror' have since been flatly dismissed by the RCMP and
remain notably untouched by Immigration Canada. The men were and are now
being held on immigration 'violations', despite the fact that many have
student visas that are still valid or are seeking refugee status.

The men, all of whom are South Asian and Muslim, have spent months in a
maximum security prison (at least one man in segregation), taunted by
guards and inmates, denied the right to a diet which is in accordance with
their faith, ill-informed about the reasons for their imprisonment and
shackled by extremely limited opportunity to access critical legal and
moral support.

Many of the men had valid documents issued by competent Canadian
authorities. Their visas were not only officially issued but were also
officially extended. The international scope of this spurious
investigation means the names and faces of the men detained are widely
known, and still with the smear of never substantiated allegations of
'terrorism'. The consequences of this illegitimate publicity for those
facing deportation and their families in Pakistan are potentially very
grave.

Ominously, there are reports of Immigration Canada officials misleading
some jailed detainees about their rights to a PreRemoval Risk Assessment,
to which all people are entitled before deportation takes place, and which
is a mechanism to assess whether or not a person faces risk upon return to
their country of origin. There are reports of detainees being pressured
to sign paperwork without their legal counsel present, the consequences of
signing not properly explained, save assurances that their signatures
would mean imminent 'release'. Immigration Canada is lining up speedy
deportations as part of their contribution to a growing trend in North
America - people predominantly of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent
being rounded up on threadbare evidence, jailed, and often deported to the
very place they have chosen to leave because of fearing for their lives,
because of civil unrest, because of extreme poverty.

Mr. Raymond, who is overseeing the speedy deportations of the three
deportees tomorrow refused to answer to the angry crowd, hiding behind the
PlexiGlass windows of Immigration Canada's hub of detention and
deportation.

As a person who is directly able to deal with the following, Mr. Raymond
is in a position ensure that to any and all remaining detainees, as well
as those released, who are and were jailed as part of the unsubstantiated
hysteria of 'Project Thread' be given fair and free access to the
Immigration channels to which they are entitled. Specifically, anyone who
has signed a voluntary departure order or a waiver of the PreRemoval Risk
Assessment under duress must be allowed to rescind their decisions, and
given due process - the right to decide their legal strategy free of such
duress.

If deportation occurs, the deportees must - at the absolute least - be
accompanied with written documentation that clears their names of the
potentially deadly allegations that have been made by the Canadian state.
Given the current climate in Pakistan, with increasing sectarian violence
and curfew imposed in the country's capital, fear is running high amongst
members of the non-status Pakistani community in Canada who are facing
deportation.

Given that the detentions and deportations of people who have not had fair
chance to apply for safe and secure landed status in Canada is abhorrent,
it is imperative that all detainees still imprisoned as a result of
'Project Thread' be released and their deportations stayed. Enforcement
officials consistently distance themselves from any responsibility for the
danger their actions of their Ministry place people in. They must be held accountable.

For more information, contact:

Stefanie Gude, OCAP, 416.925.6939
Project Threadbare, 416.801.2923