Open letter from the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians and No One is Illegal – Montreal

Posted by admin on Jun 5th, 2003

As many of you know, last Thursday, May 29th, 10 non-status Algerians and 2 supporters from the No One Is Illegal Campaign of Montreal occupied the waiting room of Immigration Minister Denis Coderre’s Ottawa Office. They were demanding a face-to-face meeting with Minister and a just solution for individuals facing deportation to Algeria because they are excluded from the regularization process put into place by Canada and Quebec Immigration.

The police response to this occupation was brutal. At approximately 10:30 PM, about 30 members of the Ottawa Police Services tactical squad, in coordination with the RCMP, charged the people occupying the waiting room. After forcing them to the ground, the police beat and Tasered many of the men on their necks, backs, torsos and genitals. One man was bashed on the head with the butt of a Taser gun, leaving a large gash on his forehead. Another man lost a tooth as a result of being punched in the face by a police officer. Several people have Taser burns on the backs of their neck, backs and arms. The 12 occupiers were arrested, charged with mischief over $5,000, and released from jail the next day.

Ottawa police also used Tasers against protesters at the support demonstration outside the Immigration Canada building. Francine Dumas and Michele Marois , a mother and daughter from Hull, were arrested after protesting when police Tasered and arrested a third Ottawa-area activist. They were detained by police for 36 hours before being released on the completely unconstitutional condition that they not attend a demonstration anywhere in Canada. Michele was charged with obstruction; Francine was charged with assault police and obstruction.

The Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians and members of the No One Is Illegal Campaign of Montreal denounce the brutality, racism and impunity with which Ottawa Police Services and the RCMP ended the occupation of Minister Coderre’s office. We join Amnesty International and the Ligue des droits et libertes in demanding an independent, impartial and public inquiry into what happened in the Immigration Minister’s offices on May 29th, 2003, in order that all those responsible, including police and their superiors be held accountable for their actions.

We also demand full police disclosure of any and all evidence relating to their operation on May 29th, 2003, including any and all communication with Minister Coderre and/or the Minister’s Office, and all surveillance and intelligence.

The Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians has no intention of allowing this or any other display of racist police brutality to deter us from continuing to mobilize and struggle for justice for all non-status people. We stand firm in demanding, as we have for the past year and a half, that Immigration Canada stop the deportations, reinstate the moratorium on deportations to Algeria and regularize all non-status Algerians living in Canada.

The No One Is Illegal Campaign of Montreal reiterates its support for the Action Committee’s demands. We maintain that Immigration Minister Denis Coderre must be held accountable for the wounds and humiliation inflicted on protesters in his office last Thursday. The Ottawa Police Services and the RCMP coordinated their brutal response strategy with the Immigration Minister’s Office. Coderre’s hands have been bloodied and his credibility as Immigration Minister has been tainted by the police violence perpetrated against the people occupying his office, as well as by his ongoing refusal to meet with the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians. We demand that he resign from his position as Immigration Minister immediately.

No One Is Illegal will continue to support the struggle of the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians and all non-status people for full regularization. The brutality demonstrated by all levels of police and government incite us to intensify our efforts to disrupt the bureaucracies and border controls that limit the rights of migrants to freedom of movement and self-determination. We will continue to stand in solidarity with immigrants, refugees and non-status people struggling for the right to live and move, in security and dignity, wherever they choose.

As we proceed in this struggle, we ask for the solidarity and support of other groups and individuals. There are a number of ways you can help, and some of them are listed below. If you have other ideas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

In solidarity & struggle,
The Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians (CASS)
No One Is Illegal (Montreal)

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