3 Months Too Long: Free Detained Tamil Refugees! Let them Stay! Scrap Bill C49!

Posted by admin on Nov 6th, 2010

Saturday November 27th @ 1pm. Vancouver Public Library (Corner of Georgia and Homer)

Surviving a dangerous journey, 492 Tamil refugees, including women and children, arrived in BC after fleeing war and persecution in Sri Lanka. Three months later, the vast majority of the refugees remain in jails, facing endless hearings that have revealed the clear incompetency, deliberate negligence, and racism of the system. Join No One is Illegal in a rally and march to call for the immediate release of detained Tamil asylum seekers, and an end to racist and restrictive refugee policies, including the recently tabled Bill C-49

Canadian government officials and media outlets continue to perpetuate false and dehumanizing stereotypes of ‘illegals’, ‘terrorists’, and so-called queue-jumpers. This fear-mongering is just another tactic used to disguise the racist policies that define Canada’s immigration and refugee system.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Minister of Censorship and Deportation Jason Kenney, have recently introduced Bill C49 under the banner of combating “human smuggling” and deterring the arrival of future boats.

Bill C49 would give the Minister the power to single out for special punishment refugees who are suspected of having fled their country by means of smugglers. These punishments are harsh and inhumane. Asylum seekers suspected of using a smuggler will be subject to mandatory detention for the first year after arrival, with no chance of review, including for children. They  also will not have the right to appeal a negative refugee decision.  In addition, they will be prohibited from obtaining  permanent residency for a period of five years after obtaining refugee status. This means these refugees will be held in limbo, not be allowed to leave the country nor sponsor their family members, effectively separating them from their families for a period of time well beyond those five years.

This is a shameful piece of legislation. Refugees are forced from their homes in emergency situations due to human rights abuses committed during wars, military occupations, or persecution against a minority group. We cannot expect refugees to wait for Canada to select them from overseas. We must understand that they undertake long and dangerous journeys to protect their lives and the lives of their families. According to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, to which Canada is a party, there are no penalties on refugees who arrive without pre-authorization and irregularly.

No One is Illegal-Vancouver asserts the basic human right to safety, mobility, and protection. It is well known that Tamils in Sri Lanka are fleeing military atrocities and mass displacement. The only crime the migrants have committed is transgressing this imposed settler-colonial border. We encourage you to join us in rejecting repressive, racist, and exclusionary ideologies and policies, and instead encourage compassion, solidarity, respect for life, and justice for all refugees.

Release Detained Asylum-Seekers!
Justice, Freedom, and Status for All!
Right to Stay, Freedom to Move, Right to Return!

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