* winter morning blues
Listen to an audio statement from Abousfian Abdelrazik on April 1st, 2009 by clicking the play button below. You can download the MP3 here.
On Thursday July 23rd, 2009 AbouSoufian Abdelrazik held his first press conference since his return to Canada.
In a crowded press gallery in Parliament, Abdelrazik spoke for about twenty minutes, recounting to some thirty journalists the story of how he had come to learn that the name of the mukhbarat in Canada was CSIS.
Mukhabarat, he began by explaining, literally means "security intelligence agency" in Arabic. But to Arabs, the word evokes torture, a long time in prison without trial, death and other horrible things.
He went on to describe how, after September 11th, CSIS had offered his wife better treatment for her cancer and payment of her debts in exchange for information on her husband. Though she repeatedly told them that she had no information against her husband, they continued to harass her, even visiting her in the hospital.
He recalled how a CSIS agent who visited him in Montreal, just days before he left for Sudan, had told him, "You will see". And how this same CSIS agent showed up in the first months of his imprisonment in Sudan to interrogate him, greeting him with, "Do you remember I told you that you would see? Now, you will see."
He described some of the abuse he was subject to in four different detention centres: Intelligence Headquarters; the security wing of Kober Prison; the Office for Crimes against the Republic; and Dabak prison (a notorious prison which was eventually shut down under UN pressure). How he had been beaten, tied to a door frame, kept in isolation for months; how he had contracted malaria, typhoid and a severe depression; how he gone on hunger strike; how he had witnessed a fellow prisoner emerge from a toilet bleeding after cutting off his own genitals in an act of hopelessness and despair.
He recounted a meeting with Deepak Obhrai and two other Canadian officials in the sixth year of his forced exile, in which he showed the three men the scars on his chest and his back he had received from torture in prison, and asked for their help in returning to Canada. But instead of receiving the help he had expected, he had been questioned about his personal opinions - about Israel, Hamas, September 11th and Osama Bin Laden.
The process of compressing twelve years into a 20-minute media story was painful and difficult, and Abdelrazik plans to spend time over the coming weeks recording all the details of what he and his family have survived, to create a permanent record so that others in Canada can hear his full story. He is also planning to travel in the early fall, to meet people in different parts of the country and tell them his story in a series of community gatherings.
Abdelrazik ended his press conference by reminding journalists that his struggle is not over,
"Now I'm here, I'm physically here. But the difficulty is still there, because my name is still on that 1267 list, which makes barriers for me everywhere. I'm not allowed to receive medical care, to apply for a job, even I cannot receive a small gift from my own family. ... I need my name as soon as possible to be removed from that list; to live my life like a normal person, a human being, a normal Canadian. And i want those people who played a role to face justice because I don't want this to happen to another person."
I am Abousfian Abdelrazik. I am Canadian. For about the last year, I have lived inside the Canadian Embassy in Sudan. For the last six years, I have been in Sudan against my will, because the Government of Canada will not let me go home to Montreal to see my children and my friends. The Government of Canada does not let me go back home because it falsely accuses me of being a terrorist.
In 2003, I traveled to Sudan to visit my sick mother. Without telling me, agents from CSIS recommended to Sudan that I should be arrested. I was thrown into prison because Canada asked; I was imprisoned and beaten and almost died. I was tortured. The Canadian government knows that Sudan tortures its prisoners, but it did not help me. Instead the Canadian government sent CSIS agents to interrogate me in prison. My lawyers have documents to prove all this.
For six years I have tried to go back home to my children, but the Canadian government took my old passport and will not give me another one. Without a passport, I cannot travel.
So I have been in Sudan against my will for six years now. I have been imprisoned and tortured. I am safer now because I live in the Canadian Embassy. But I miss my children in Canada; they grew up, and my ex-wife died. My teenage daughter is an orphan now, and still the Harper government does not let me to go home.
All this happened to me because the Harper government says I am an “Islamic extremist”. This is a lie. I am a Muslim, and I pray to my God, but this does not make me a terrorist or a criminal. My lawyers have letters from both RCMP and CSIS that say I am not involved in any criminal activity. Why would Canada’s police say I am not involved in criminal activity if I were a terrorist? Would the Canadian government let me live and sleep inside the walls of the Canadian Embassy if I was a terrorist?
Let me tell you a story: In March 2008, Mr. Deepak Obhrai, the Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, came to Sudan to talk to me. I pleaded with him that I wanted to come home to Canada to see my children. But Mr. Obhrai and the Prime Minister did nothing. In March 2008, Mr. Obhrai personally inspected my wounds from being tortured in Sudanese prisons. I showed Mr. Obhrai the scars on my body and back from being beaten. He saw that I was tortured, but he did not help me.
I understand Mr. Obhrai and the Prime Minister refuse to discuss my case and many other cases of Canadian Muslims in trouble now. Do they think we are not “real Canadians”? I tell you, I am Canadian, and so are my children; they are born in Canada. The Prime Minister has blue eyes and white skin, and the Governor General is a black lady. Is one of them more “Canadian” than the other?
I know many Canadians of all colors and religions are trying to help me. I pray for you and I want to thank you so much. My lawyers have worked for free for over a year. Almost 200 people have given money and bought me a ticket to come home. Many people have sent me letters to the Embassy, which are full of love and hope. You have never met me, but I thank you in my prayers every day. I want to fly home on April 3 and celebrate with you, InShahAllah.
All these gentle people who are helping me come from all colors and all religions. They belong to churches and teach in schools. But the Harper government threatens to charge them for aiding terrorism just because they bought my plane ticket to return home. Shame on you! Shame on you! Why would you want to charge Canadians who just want to help, when the Canadian police say I am not a terrorist? Do not be cruel this way.
It is very lonely to live in the embassy and I am sick and suffering. I hope to fly home on April 3, but if I am denied a passport, I will wait so my case goes to Court. I know that my fellow Canadians are not to blame for my situation, and even the RCMP say I am innocent. It is only Mr. Harper and his officials who do not let me go back to Canada.
But for my fellow Canadians who understand that I just want to go home, I want to say: thank you, thank you so much for helping me. When I am finally allowed to return to Canada, I hope I can meet all of you and say thank you for the love and support that you given me with your kindness and good wishes. You are always in my prayers.
Contact the People's Commission Network: QPIRG Concordia - Peoples's Commission Network c/o Concordia University 1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest Montreal, QC, H3G 1M8 email@example.com
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