Abousfian Abdelrazik: Project Fly Home

winter morning blues

Listen to:
* winter morning blues
for Abdelrazik

saxophone — Matana Roberts
piano — Stefan Christoff
recorded by Thierry Amar @ Hotel 2 Tango

Statement from Abousfian

Listen to an audio statement from Abousfian Abdelrazik on April 1st, 2009 by clicking the play button below. You can download the MP3 here.


April 29, 2013

Supporters and Abdelrazik deliver letter to the Ambassador of Sudan and Prime Minister of Canada. The letter demanded answers, an apology, reparations. It is five years since Abdelrazik entered the Canadian consulate in Sudan and refused to leave until he was allowed to return to Canada. No one has been held accountable for the crimes committed against him.

November 30, 2011

Abousfian Abdelrazik's name was removed from the UN blacklist.

August 4, 2011

La Presse ran a smear article against Abousfian Abdelrazik and others, based on a leaked secret CSIS document. The illegal leak of the CSIS document was strategically-timed — Abdelrazik’s application to be removed from the Security Council’s 1267 Blacklist was being studied at the United Nations, with the Ombudsperson in the process of writing her final report on whether or not to delist him.

Read Project Fly Home's response to this disgusting attack

June 17, 2011

The Security Council passed two resolutions on June 17th. As part of a move towards a political deal in Afghanistan, resolution 1988 created a new list for the Taliban and removed Taliban members from the 1267 List. This new list is more blatantly a tool of political control and essentially lists and delists people on the basis of whether they cooperate with the western-backed Karzai government. Resolution 1989 makes some very minor reforms to the 1267 delisting process, nothing that makes any substantial moves towards a fairness.

Read press release by FIDH reacting to "reforms" to 1267 regime Read resolution 1988 Read resolution 1989

6 April 2011

Eleven states write to the President of the Security Council, calling for fairer procedures for the 1267 Regime. While the proposed reform is far from the heart of the matter, the move shows that some states are beginning to recognize that reforms must be made to save the regime. Especially notable that Peter Wittig, the German Ambassador to the United Nations, and current Chair of the 1267 Committee, is one of the co-signatories.

25 January 2011

Abdelrazik submitted an individual delisting application to the "1267 Committee" (essentially, the United Nations Security Council) through the new ombudsperson. This set in motion a review process that could take between six and ten months. That is, Abdelrazik will get a response on his bid for freedom any time between 25 July 2011 and 25 November 2011.

11 December 2010

Around one hundred people marched in Montreal in solidarity with Abousfian Abdelrazik to various institutions complicit in the UN 1267 blacklisting regime. Rallies were also held in Saskatoon and Regina.

10 December 2010

The Canadian Labour Congress invited Abdelrazik to speak at their Rise up! conference in Ottawa. Hassan Yussuff presented Abdelrazik with a "sanctions-busting salary". The five hundred and forty labour activists from across Canada then joined in by contributing to the Just Work fund. In total, almost $6000 was handed over to Abdelrazik to provide financial support for his efforts to make other Canadians aware of his story.

22 November 2010

Abdelrazik and a dozen supporters from Calgary visit Stephen Harper's home office in Calgary South. Abdelrazik delivered a letter which he was promised would be delivered to Harper without fail.

Read letter here.

17 November 2010

Abousfian Abdelrazik embarks on a five-city speaking tour that takes him from Saskatoon to Vancouver. It is the second part of a speaking tour that had begun the previous year, just months after his return to Canada, which took him by car from Halifax to Winnipeg. In this second part of his tour Abdelrazik spoke in Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. Events were organized by a diverse range of groups, involved in migrant justice struggles, Palestianian solidarity, labour movement, human rights, academics, journalism, and anti-racist action.

August 30, 2010

In a strong judgement, the Federal Court of Canada found in favour of Abdelrazik, allowing him to sue Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon for the personal role he played in the Abdelrazik affair (see April 30 and April 12 updates below).

Read the decision here.

August 6, 2010

On August 6th, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of human rights while countering terrorism issued a report concluding, among other things, that the Security Council had gone beyond its mandated powers in setting up the 1267 regime in the first place.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (see page 16)

June 7, 2010

Lawyers for Abousfian Abdelrazik filed a constitutional challenge to the 1267 regime in Federal Court. The application seeks to strike down the Al Qaeda and Taliban regulations, which implement the 1267 regime in Canada.

Also:Canadian lawyer Kimberly Prost appointed as UN ombudsperson to screen delisting applications. The appointment is described by Ottawa University Professor Amir Attaran as a "face-saving" effort to respond to rising criticisms of the 1267 list.

Constitutional Challenge to the 1267 List

Press Release about the Constitutional Challenge

May 18, 2010

On May 18th, Canwest quoted Mr. Cannon as saying:

“Recently there was a request that we supported to allow the Quebec government to pay an amount to support Mr. Abdelrazik and we did not object to that.”

… That said, the department maintains it's incumbent on Abdelrazik and his lawyers to get him off the list. …

“All I can say is that in the past I tried to make sure that Mr. Abdelrazik had the support he needed to be removed from the UN list. That attempt, unfortunately, failed.”

(Tobi Cohen, Canwest, “Labour leaders defy UN Sanctions”, 18 May 2010)

Read this Reality Check to find out how Mr. Cannon's statements are disingenuous and misleading.

Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Canadian section of the International Machinists and Windsor Labour Council announced that they are hiring Abdelrazik, in conscious violation of Canadian law implementing the 1267 regime in Canada and in order to support his right to earn a living in freedom and with dignity.

Listen to the "As it happens" interview with Hassan Yussuff.

April 30, 2010

Abdelrazik's lawyers in court again to argue against a government motion to strike parts of the lawsuit against Cannon and government agencies responsible for his imprisonment, torture and exile. The Federal Court will consider the arguments and render a decision in the next months.

April 28, 2010

Over 160 people responded to a two-hour Sanctions-busting Telethon in Montreal, calling in to make a donation in defiance of the 1267 sanctions.

April 22, 2010

Mr. Abdelrazik received word that his lawyers were able to obtain an exemption allowing him a monthly stipend from his bank account. Though this represents no more than a window in the 1267 prison for Mr. Abdelrazik, when it enters into effect, it will provide some immediate relief for Mr. Abdelrazik and it reflects the degree to which the government already feels public pressure on this issue.

April 12, 2010

Federal court heard government arguments that parts of Abdelrazik's lawsuit should be thrown out, including the specific suit against Lawrence Cannon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs who refused to give Abdelrazik a temporary passport so he could return to Canada. Abdelrazik's lawyers defended the suit. The hearing will continue on April 30th before any decision is made.

Abdelrazik's lawyers pressing court to hold Cannon accountable (Globe and Mail)

29 March 2010

Abdelrazik receives letter from his bank informing him that the account had been frozen because of sanctions imposed in Canada under the UN 1267 regime. The bank account contained Mr. Abdelrazik’s sole savings, from a modest entitlement left to him by his deceased wife.

March 4, 2010

Swiss Parliament requests withdrawal from UN 1267 sanctions regime

On 4 March, the Federal Assembly approved a resolution inviting the Federal Government to communicate to the UN Security Council that the Swiss Confederation will not implement UN terrorism sanctions if the person concerned had been on the UN list for more than three years without having been brought to justice; had no possibility to access a remedy before an independent authority; had not been charged by any judicial authority; and had no new evidence produced against him or her since being included on the list. The resolution also recommends that the Government make clear that a democratic country based on the rule of law cannot implement a sanctions regime which suspends the most elementary fundamental rights for years and without democratic legitimacy.

Read the Resolution

February 5, 2010

Project Fly Home launches six-month campaign, "DELIST NOW!", leading up to the first anniversary of Abdelrazik's return to Canada. The campaign demands that domestic sanctions on Mr. Abdelrazik be lifted immediately and that Canada actively lobby UN Security Council members to delist Mr. Abdelrazik from the UN 1267 List.

Read full call out here

February 3, 2010

Abdelrazik was invited to testify before the Foreign Affairs Standing Committee in federal Parliament about life under the 1267 list. Abdelrazik explained that the listing had been used to delay his return to Canada for four years and described how it had affected his daily life since he returned to Canada; for example the Royal Bank of Canada refused to open a bank account for him on the grounds that he is on the 1267 list. Amir Attaran, a law professor at Ottawa University, also testified as an expert on the 1267 regime. He argued that describing it as an unjust legal regime is to give it undue legitimacy - it is best understood as a diplomatic regime which serves political purposes. Attaran called on the government to immediately repeal domestic regulations implementing 1267 in Canada. Members of the three main opposition parties, including the three Foreign Affairs critics, then posed questions as they sought to understand what position they should take on the issue.

Watch a video of the hearing

See media coverage

January 27, 2010

The UK Supreme Court struck down legislation in the UK that implemented the UN's 1267 list. They ruled that it violated fundamental principles of common law, such as the presumption of innocence.

Read the ruling

December 12, 2009

To mark International Human Rights Day, a rally was held in Montreal in solidarity with Abousfian Abdelrazik, still "imprisoned" by the United Nations 1267 list. People travelled for two days from Sioux Lookout, where Abdelrazik spoke in October as part of his cross-country speaking tour, to join in the demonstration of public support for Abdelrazik and opposition to the ongoing violence of the so-called "war on terror".

Excellent video by Stephan Kazemi, "Abousfian's International Human Rights Day in Montreal" featuring inspiring speeches by Tatiana Gomez and Gaynde Djibril

Photos by Shahrzad Arshadi, with more quotes from the rally

December 1, 2009

On December 1, 2009, Abousfian Abdelrazik finally received a care package that supporters in Montreal had sent to him on 22 April 2009 when he was still trapped in the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan. The box was returned to the sender bearing the words, “The name is unknown at Embassy”. Abdelrazik had been living in the Embassy for more than a year at the time.

Though excited that he finally got to open the box, which contained, among other things, an Arab-French dictionary, DVDs and letters of encouragement and support, Abdelrazik and his supporters are focusing on the struggle to get his name removed from the UN 1267 list.

Read the press release here.

September 24, 2009

On 21 September 2009, Abdelrazik launched a lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada, and Lawrence Cannon personally, on the basis of: false imprisonment and breach of section 7 of the charter; breach of the prohibition against torture and section 12 of the charter; breach of section 6 of the charter; misfeance in public office; intentional infliction of mental suffering; breach of fiduciary duty and negligence.

Read statement of claim here.

July 23, 2009

Abousoufian held his first full press conference in the parliamentary press gallery in Ottawa on 23 July. He spoke eloquently about a few of the many horrific things that have happened to him over the past six years, though it is of course impossible to summarize everything in twenty minutes.

The request for a meeting with Cannon and Van Loan was again repeated in the press conference. But when Abdelrazik's lawyers returned to their office after the press conference, they found that Ministers Peter van Loan and Cannon had both sent letters refusing to meet with Abousoufian. He had asked them to meet to discuss accountability and their role in getting him off the 1267 list. Their letters gave no reason for refusing to meet him.

Abdelrazik is now considering his next steps in light of the Ministers refusal to meet with him.

July 21, 2009

The Globe and Mail published a series of exchanges between top Foreign Affairs officials in Ottawa and Canadian consular staff in Khartoum revealing that Ottawa was warned in March 2006 to act quickly to repatriate Mr. Abdelrazik because a branch of the Sudanese government was considering a "permanent solution" to his case.

In light of this news, Abdelrazik immediately renewed his request for a meeting with Cannon and Van Loan to open a discussion about the serious abuses that took place in his case.

July 7, 2009

On 7 July, Abousfian appeared before Russel Zinn, the Federal Court judge who had ordered the federal government to bring him home. After noting that he believed the government had acted in bad faith, Zinn convened a hearing on 7 July whose purpose was simply to verify that AbouSoufian had indeed arrived home.

Abousfian was very eager to thank Justice Zinn for his part in bringing him out of an intolerable situation. However, Zinn denied his request to speak, saying that it would be inappropriate for AbouSoufian to thank the court as he simply had been treated as everyone should be, according to his rights. The court order to bring him home had been no more than his due.

Zinn did think it appropriate to then turn to the government lawyers - the same people who had been deeply involved in violating AbouSoufian's rights for years - and thank them for following his ruling and for going the extra mile by providing an RCMP escort.

Zinn, who no doubt came under pressure in the Ottawa dining circuit because of his strong judgement, also directed some remarks to AbouSoufian, advising him to leave the past behind and look to the future. AbouSoufian should become the hero of his own life! Even if Abousfian had read the 19th century English novel alluded to, it seems unusual advice to offer a man who has, for the past six years, had the steering wheel of his life ripped out of his hands, and who still lives under the boot of the 1267 list.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Abousfian said, "I want those people who played a role in this matter to face justice, not because I seek revenge, because I don't want this to happen to any Canadian citizen anymore."

Abdelrazik took the first step in the new phase of his campaign on 7 July by sending a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and Pubic Safety Minister Peter Van Loan requesting a meeting to discuss just and appropriate responses to the serious abuses he has suffered and Canada's role in having his name removed from the UN 1267 list.

June 27, 2009

After six years in exile Abousfian Abdelrazik finally returned to Canada! He landed in Toronto where he was greeted by friends and supporters, and then proceeded to Montreal where another rally awaited him.

See photos and details of his arrival in Toronto and Montreal!

June 26, 2009

Accompanied by his lawyer, Yavar Hameed, Abousfian boards flight in Khartoum. On his way home at last!

June 24, 2009

Lawyer Yavar Hameed leaves to accompany Abousfian home. Abousfian will arrive in Toronto on Saturday, 27 June at 4:40 pm.

June 18, 2009

With only one day left before the court-issued deadline to provide travel arrangements, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson responded to opposition questioning that the government would comply with the court order.

June 12, 2009

The government once again failed to issue the travel document that Abousfian needed to board a flight scheduled to leave Khartoum at 3:45pm today (this morning, Montreal time). Abousfian remains in the embassy.

Using the paid-for and scheduled ticket - bought for Abousfian by over 250 people across Canada, at the risk of criminal charges - would have been a cost-effective, simple and quick way of complying with the June 4th Federal court ruling directing the government to bring Abousfian home. It was a golden opportunity for the government. In its June 4th ruling, the Federal court actually suggested that such a plane ticket would be the most straightforward way for the government to comply with the Court's order to bring Abousfian home, "There is any number of ways available to him to return to Canada. He once secured an airline ticket and may be able to do so again. In the Court's view that would cure the breach and be the least intrusive on the role of the executive."

In response to a call from CBC News Friday, the office of Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said: "The government is reviewing the federal court decision and is unable to comment further at this time."

In response to a question put to him in Parliament, Cannon simply refused to respond. The junior justice minister answered in his place, saying that a decision would be made at some point.

In any case, the government still has to bring Abousfian home by July 3rd, and they have to have their plan in place to do that by June 19th. Today's failure has simply - meaninglessly, pointlessly, cruelly - prolonged Abousfian's six year exile.

June 11, 2009

A letter co-signed by over 200 union activists from dozens of unions and every part of Canada was sent to Minister Cannon this morning. Qualifying the government’s actions in Mr. Abdelrazik’s case as “disgraceful”, the letter demanded that the Minister respect the Federal Court ruling and urged him to make use of a plane ticket already purchased for Mr. Abdelrazik by people from across Canada, for a flight scheduled to leave Khartoum tomorrow afternoon (local time), June 12th.

Read the letter here.
Read the press release here.

June 4, 2009

Federal Court orders the Federal government to "issue (Abousfian Abdelrazik) an emergency passport in order that he may return to and enter Canada" and to "arrange transportation for (Mr. Abdelrazik) from Khartoum to Montreal, Canada such that he arrives in Canada no later than 30 days from the date hereof." The goverment has 15 days (June 19) to provide travel arrangements.

Read full decision here.
Read choice quotes here.

May 27, 2009

Abousfian's lawyers announced that he has scheduled a flight home for 12 June, in order to in order to appear at the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs before Parliament adjourns for the summer. Abousfian has requested that the government issue the travel document he needs to board the flight .

At the same time, Denis Lemelin, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director of CAIRCAN, announced that their organizations are preparing to help send a civil society delegation to Sudan to accompany Abousfian Abdelrazik home on 12 June.

May 25, 2009

During an exchange between Paul Dewar and Lawrence Cannon in the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs on 25 May 2009, Lawrence Cannon stuck to the line that the fact that Abousfian's name appears on the 1267 list means that Canada cannot bring him home. When Dewar pointed out that the coordinator of the UN committee which monitors the list had stated publicly that there was a clear exemption made to allow people to fly home, Cannon did not clarify his position. When Dewar pointed out that Canada had in any case already asked for (and received) an exemption from the UN 1267 committee (to allow Abousfian to live in the Embassy and receive a living allowance of $100 / month), Cannon appeared downright confused.

May 9, 2009

Court hearing closed after two days. Abousfian's lawyers asked the Federal Court to order the bring him home immediately, using any safe means at their disposal. During the course of the government's argument about why they should not act to bring Abousfian home, the federal government lawyer parrotted Lawrence Cannon's statement that Abdelrazik should get himself off the UN list. Federal Court Justice Zinn replied, according to the Ottawa Citizen, "It's like Kafka, isn't it? How can you respond, when you have no idea why you're on the list in the first place, other than that you're an associate of al-Qaida, whatever that means?" The Judge could take several weeks to render his decision. More details forthcoming.

May 6, 2009

On Monday, April 27, the MP for Ottawa Centre Paul Dewar, presented the following motion to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in Parliament: "That Abousfian Abdelrazik be asked to appear before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs". The Foreign Affairs committee decided on Wednesday, 29 April to move this motion ahead of other motions in the line up, thus sending a strong message to the government about the importance of the issue. The committee is also seeking legal analysis to see how the motion would affect Mr. Abdelrazik's status and what the process would be for repatriating him to Canada to appear before the committee. The committee will begin debating the motion on Monday, 4 May, and hopefully will vote on it.

The motion passed on May 4th. Tories abstained. The motion mandates the committee to make arrangements for Abdelrazik to appear before it, in Ottawa.

On 6 May, the government issued a statement in response to the standing committee motion. Once again they said they would not bring him home, citing the fact that Abousfian's name appears on the UN "blacklist" as a reason to refuse him the travel documents he needs to return to Canada. His name was placed on the blacklist by the Bush administration in 2006.

But just hours later, the Globe and Mail ran an article quoting Richard Barrett, who heads up the UN body which oversees the blacklist, as saying, "Whether it is Abdelrazik or anybody else, it is up to the state in question whether they want to allow the person to come back or not." According to the Globe, Barrett "said that the travel ban exemption allowing for the return of a citizen is so clear in the UN resolutions that governments need not - and most don't - even apply for permits."

April 27, 2009

On Monday, April 27, the MP for Ottawa Centre Paul Dewar, presented the following motion to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in Parliament: "That Abousfian Abdelrazik be asked to appear before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs". The Foreign Affairs committee decided on Wednesday, 29 April to move this motion ahead of other motions in the line up, thus sending a strong message to the government about the importance of the issue. The committee is also seeking legal analysis to see how the motion would affect Mr. Abdelrazik's status and what the process would be for repatriating him to Canada to appear before the committee. The committee will begin debating the motion on Monday, 4 May, and hopefully will vote on it.

April 3, 2009

On April 3rd, just before Abousfian's plane was due to leave, his lawyers in Ottawa received a fax stating without explanation that Lawrence Cannon had refused the passport. Read letter here. Media quoted Cannon from the NATO summit in France, stating that the passport was refused on "national security" grounds. At 3:45pm, the plane left Khartoum and Abousfian Abdelrazik remained in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum.

March 27, 2009

On March 27th, 2009, with no travel document issued yet, Minister Cannon said:

"It's my understanding that this individual is on the 1267 UN list, and it would seem to me that he would, first and foremost, have to be able to get himself off that list before... posing any other gesture or move on his part."

This is how Minister Cannon is wrong:

  • Mr. Abdelrazik is a Canadian citizen seeking return to Canada.

  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom states that

    “Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada” (section 6).

  • UN Resolutions clearly states that the travel ban does not apply in case of repatriation to one’s own country. It demands that States enforce a travel ban on listed subjects and by the same token indicates,

    "...that nothing in this paragraph shall oblige any State to deny entry into or require the departure from its territories of its own nationals”. (UN Resolution 1390 and subsequents).

  • Listed subjects have been repatriated or deported at least 18 occasions. Make a search in the Consolidated List and see UN Report S/2007/677.

  • By the Department of Foreign Affairs’ own admission, in documents dated January 2008 obtained through the Privacy Act:

    “Mr. Abdelrazik is subject to an assets freeze, arms embargo and travel ban. Note, however, that as for all Canadian nationals, Mr. Abdelrazik retains the right to return to his own country of nationality. International law expressly provides for a right to return, and prevents states from denying return to own’s [sic] state of nationality.”

  • The government has consistently promised to issue a travel document for Mr. Abdelrazik, most recently in a letter dated December 23, 2008:

    “Passport Canada will issue an emergency passport to Mr. Abdelrazik, upon submission of a confirmed and paid travel itinerary to the Consular Section of the Canadian Embassy.”

On March 15, 2009, Mr. Abdelrazik presented a copy of his ticket to the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum requesting a travel document. On March 16th, Mr. Abdelrazik’s lawyers echoed his request with the government’s lawyers. His fight was scheduled for April 3, 2009 and the airline required a copy of the travel document by April 1st.

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