Mohamed Cherfi nabbed and deported from sanctuary!

Posted by admin on Mar 6th, 2004

Mohamed Cherfi, an Algerian asylum seeker, had been in sanctuary at Saint-Pierre United Church in Quebec City since February 10, 2004 in order to avoid deportation to Algeria where he fears for his life. Mohamed sought political refuge in Canada as a conscientious objector, having refused to do compulsory military service that would have forced him into the civil conflict in Algeria.

On Friday March 5, dozens of police officers forcibly entered the church. They stormed in and immediately descended on Cherfi, and within hours, Mohamed was deported to the United States and is now in a prison cell in upstate New York. His arrest breaks a longstanding secular tradition of right to sanctuary, the first time such an outrage has occurred in Canada.

Mohamed Cherfi was nabbed from the church based on a warrant from the Montreal Municipal Court for failing to give notice of his change of address. This condition was imposed during his release after an arrest during a peaceful demonstration during which several non-status were targeted for defending their rights. However, although Mohamed was staying in the church, his mailing address remained the same as before. Upon arrest and arrival at the Quebec Police Station, the charges against him were dropped and he was set free. And then picked up by the Canadian Border Services Agency who were waiting for him in the police station.

Mohamed Cherfi is a long-time activist and was arrested three times fighting for the rights of his community to stay in Canada. Mohamed was an outspoken member of the Action Committee of Non-Status Algerians. He and others were chained up, beaten and brutally arrested during a peaceful demonstration in Minister Coderre’s offices last May 29th. Prior to this struggle, Mohamed did not have a criminal record and had never had any contact with police.

Due in large parts to the tireless work of Mohamed through the Action Committee for Non-Status Algerians , hundreds of non-status Algerians were regularized in Quebec as immigrants under the Special Procedures. However, Mohamed was himself refused as an immigrant to Quebec on the pretext that he was not adequately “integrated”.

There is no doubt that the exclusion of Mohamed is clearly linked to his role as a brave human rights activist fighting for himself, his community and paving the struggle for other communities to self-organize against Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The public must stand in solidarity with Mohamed Cherfi and the Action Committee of Non Status Algerians at the frontlines of struggle against CIC’s consistent and systematic repression and policies of increasing detentions and deportations. Mohamed Cherfi is a defender of human rights and social justice and we cannot stand in silence as the government sends a message to all those fighting for their rights that they too will be targeted and deported. Such political retribution against non-status people will not be tolerated.

We demand the return of Mohamed Cherfi and encourage the public to pressure their MP’s as well as the Minister of Immigration and Minister of the Border Services Agency to do the same.

Comments are closed.