People's Commission Network Popular Forum

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Biographies of our Speakers and Discussants

Abousfian Abdelrazik was arrested while on a visit to Sudan in 2003. The Federal Court later found that his arrest probably took place at the request of CSIS. He was detained and tortured. In this context he was questioned by CSIS agents. After he was released, he was blocked from returning to Montreal, in part through the strategic use of a UN blacklist to which his name was then added. The Federal Court finally forced the Canadian government to repatriate him. Now back in Montreal, he continues his campaign to have his name removed from the UN “1267” blacklist, which prevents him from travelling internationally and imposes an asset freeze on him.

Hassan Almrei was arrested under a security certificate in October 2001. He spent more than four years in solitary confinement in a provincial jail in Toronto before being released into the general population and later transferred to a specially built detention centre for security certificate detainees in Kingston, dubbed "Guantanamo North". He was released under draconian conditions in 2009, and remained under house arrest until the Federal Court threw out the security certificate against him later that year. During his long campaign for justice, Hassan several times embarked on lengthy hunger-strikes, bringing international attention to Canada's unjust security certificate process.

Issam Alyamani is a Palestinian refugee, an activist and a writer who was been in Canada since 1985. Two security certificates were issued against him in the 1990s, both of which were quashed by the Federal Court. In 2005 he was deemed inadmissable to Canada as a past member of the PFLP, which was listed as a “terrorist organization” in Canada in 2003. A deportation order was issued against Mr. Alyamani in 2006.

Ramani Balendra worked as a community worker at SAWCC since 1990, working closly with the Sri Lankan Tamil Community. She is also one of the founding members of the Canadian Tamil Congress (Quebec Chapter). She advocates to eliminate human rights violations against Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Matthew Behrens is a long-time community organizer and the coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada and Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture.

Nazila Bettache is a Montreal-based organizer. She has been involved with feminist, migrant justice, Indigenous solidarity and anti-police brutality work over the years. She was a member of the support committee for Iban Apaolaza Sancho, a Basque political prisoner who was detained and deported from Canada using "immigration security measures".

Fred Burrill is an activist and historian engaged in indigenous solidarity work, migrant justice struggles, and anarchist organizing in Montreal.

Marc-André Cyr is a political science student who is involved in various journals and is active for social rights.

Ellen Gabriel activist from the community of Kanehsatake.

Tatiana Gomez has been active on labour and migration issues for over ten years. She is a community-based lawyer in Montreal.

Suleyman Güven is the Toronto-based editor of Yeni Hayat, an online news source. A Kurdish refugee from Turkey, Güven came to Canada in 1991 and was recognized as a convention refugee in 1993. CSIS blackmailed him to become a community informant in exchange for papers. When he refused, CSIS claimed that he was a member of the PKK, which they considered to be a “terrorist organization”. Suleyman did not receive his Permanent Residence until 2006, after a protracted struggle.

Yavar Hameed since September 11, 2001, been actively involved in advising Muslims and Arabs in the context of CSIS investigations and national security matters as a proponent of civil rights in the face of a hardening “security state”. He acted as counsel for Abousfian Abdelrazik in seeking his repatriation from Sudan following CSIS's opportunistic rendition of Mr. Abdelrazik. He currently acts as counsel for Mohamed Mahjoub in his security certificate case.

Sophie Lamarche Harkat has been a tireless human rights campaigner since her husband Mohamed Harkat was arrested under a security certificate on 10 December 2002. Overnight, Sophie became a media advocate and has since had eight years intense experience in working with media on this issue.

Mostafa Henaway is a Montreal-based community organizer with the Immigrant Workers Centre (IWC) and Tadamon! Montreal. The IWC is an education and campaign centre for immigrant workers in Montreal. The IWC supports individual workers coming to the Centre for advice and builds wider campaigns around these specific problems on a wide range of issues relating to the rights of immigrant workers.

Helen Hudson is an anti-authoritarian organizer based in Montreal whose work currently focuses primarily on political prisoner solidarity.

Gary Kinsman is the co-author of The Canadian War on Queers: National Security as Sexual Regulation and editor of Whose National Security? and Sociology for Changing the World. He is a long time queer liberation and anti-capitalist activist. He is a member of Sudbury Against War and Occupation and the Palestine Solidarity Working Group and teaches Sociology at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Ian McKay is a Professor of History at Queen's University. His research interests lie in Canadian cultural history; in the economic and social history of the Atlantic region of Canada in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with specific reference to working-class movements and to tourism; in the history of Canada as a liberal order; and in the history of both Canadian and international left-wing movements for socialism. Recent books include Rebels, Reds, Radicals: Rethinking Canada's Left History (2005); and Reasoning Otherwise: Leftists and the People's Enlightenment in Canada, 1890-1920 (2008).

Dieter Misgeld , originally from Germany, is a retired Professor from the University of Toronto. The partner of Amparo Torres, Dieter has much work exeperience in Latin America.

Clifton Arihwakehte Nicholas is a Kanehsatake Mohawk who was active in 1990 in the Oka crisis and remains very active in his community and its resistance. He was contacted by CSIS along with other members of his community.

Mona Oikawa is Associate Professor in the Race, Ethnicity and Indigeneity Program at York University. Her current research examines the relationship of Japanese Canadians to a history of colonialism in Canada. Her book, Cartographies of Violence: Japanese Canadian Women, Memory, and the Subjects of the 'Internment' is forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press.

Dominique Peschard is President of the Ligue des droits et libertés. He has given numerous talks in Quebec on questions relating to the proliferation of surveillance and control mechanisms. He drafted and presented a paper on the national identity card project at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in Ottawa and on biometrics at the Commission de l’éthique de la science et de la technologie in Quebec. He initiated and presided over the Colloquium, “On nous fiche, ne nous en fichons pas! “ in Montreal in January 2010. He is also a member of the coordinating committee of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.

Marie-Ève Sauvé is active in Tadamon! and the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (la CLAC). She was subject to harassment by CSIS in the lead up to the protests against the Olympics and the visit of George W. Bush in Montréal. During the G20, she was “preventively” arrested for conspiracy in Toronto on the morning of June 26th before the protest began. She spent several days in prison and was charged with “Weapons Dangerous” before all her charges were dropped a few months later.

Saini Chattar Singh is the vice-President of the Centre communautaire des punjabis du Québec.

Sivanathan Sivaraman is active for human rights, having arrived in Montreal as a Tamil refugee from northern Sri Lanka. Sivaraman is co-owner of the property that hosted a community centre for Tamils in Montreal, until it was closed down by the RCMP on suspicions of links to the LTTE in 2008. Since that date, Sivaraman has been involved in costly legal proceedings to regain access to the property.

Amparo Torres was born in Colombia where she was a union leader and a co-founder of the left-wing "umbrella" (non-factionalist) party, the Union Patriotica. She was severely persecuted as she began her career as labour lawyer, and eventually had to flee the country, arriving in Canada in 1996 as a UN convention refugee. She is currently under threat of deportation because of her political history in Colombia and Latin America.

Tamara Vukov is a researcher, filmmaker, and activist based in Montréal, Québec. She is a research associate at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, is active in the Global Balkans network and Volatile Works media arts collective, and has been involved in the People's Commission Network on and off for several years.

Jared Will is a Montreal-based immigration and criminal lawyer in private practice with a particular interest in advocacy and litigation involving questions of 'national security'.

The People's Commission Network is a working group of QPIRG-Concordia 514.848.7585

Contact the People's Commission Network: QPIRG Concordia - Peoples's Commission Network c/o Concordia University 1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest Montreal, QC, H3G 1M8

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