Letter from Chinese Canadian Redress Alliance

Mr. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister
Government of Canada
House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

February 6, 2007

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

Last year, your government took the historic decision to give partial redress for the Head Tax and Exclusion Acts, laws that your government recognized as harmful and discriminatory against the Chinese Canadian community. More recently, your government also took the correct and just initiative to compensate Maher Arar for what he suffered as a result of decisions of Canadian government officials.

Since we believe that you are able to recognize the vulnerability of Canadian residents and naturalised Canadians to acts of discrimination and racism by the state and its agents, we are writing to express our solidarity with 3 Canadian residents who have been on hunger strikes for over 2 months at Canada's prison for detainees under the security certificate.

The three detainees - Mahmoud Jaballah, detained since August 2001, Hassan Almrei, detained since October 2001, and Mahmoud Jaballah, detained since June 2000 - are held on vague charges of terrorism, without being allowed access to any of the proof against them, a procedure that has been denounced by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, as well as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Since security certificates are issued only to permanent residents (as opposed to citizens), these procedures constitute discrimination on the basis of national origin, and their application can be argued to include discrimination on the basis of religion, race, colour, and ethnicity.

We are writing to support of the demands of these political prisoners for minor improvements to their conditions of detention, which include access to an independent ombudsman to receive complaints (something which exists at other prisons in Canada). We are also writing to express our alarm at your refusal to give these men the standard daily medical monitoring that is the norm in hunger strikes.

We hope that being sensitize to the historical injustices perpetuated on non-citizens, your government will act quickly to prevent these injustices from being practised in the present.

In general, we urge you to do the following:

1) Act immediately to find a solution to the hunger strike before the men die;
2) Release the three men who are currently subject to "security certificates", or charge them and provide them a fair and open trial; and
3) Close the new Kingston Immigration Holding Centre ("Guantanamo North"),abolish security certificates, and end deportations to countries that practise torture.

Sincerely yours,

May Chiu
Chinese Canadian Redress Alliance