Mr. Laibar Singh in Sanctuary in Abbotsford Gurudwara

Posted by admin on Jul 7th, 2007

Mr. Laibar Singh has taken sanctuary at Abbortsford Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar Gurudwara. This difficult decision, particularly given his medical condition, was made by him and his supporters as part of his struggle for justice to remain in Canada. At a rally today in support of Mr. Singh, over 300 community members vowed to support Mr. Singh during the duration of his sanctuary and to continue to pressure the government to fight for his right to remain. See press release below and for ongoing support email or call 778-885 0040.

Saturday July 7 2007, VANCOUVER- Mr. Laiber Singh, a paralyzed Punjabi refugee claimant, has taken sanctuary at Abbortsford Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar Gurudwara.

Mr. Singh is a 48-year old Dalit Punjabi refugee claimant who came to Canada in 2003 and has been struggling for nearly four years to get refugee status. He was due to be deported at 1:00 pm Sunday July 8th from the George Pearson Centre, a long-term care facility for people with severe disabilities. Federal government authorities have hired a private jet at a cost of over $70,000 to fly Mr. Singh to New Delhi. His refugee claim of persecution at the hands of state police has been rejected based mostly on minor inconsistencies and simply because the Immigration and Refugee Board judge simply ‘did not believe he was credible’, a highly subjective assessment.

Mr. Singh had an aneurysm in August 2006 that left him paralyzed. Prior to suffering from his aneurysm, Mr. Singh worked as a labourer. Human rights groups and community members are deeply concerned about the fate Mr. Singh, whose physical health is fragile and have been protesting to the government over the past two weeks. “We believe that the deportation of Mr. Singh is profoundly unjust and inhumane. We have demanded that the Government of Canada allow Mr. Singh to remain in Canada on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds, however this fell on deaf ears”, states Harpal Singh Nagra of South Asian Human Rights Group.

According to Harsha Walia, a South Asian community member and member of No One Is Illegal “This is a courageous and moral stand that has been taken. Sanctuary is a longstanding moral tradition and is an act of civil disobedience against unjust government laws and policies. There have been approximately 40 incidents of sanctuary since 1983 and they represent a profound assertion of faith and of conscience to support refugees in their struggle for justice.”

Community members and organizations, including Janta Sewak Society of Vancouver and Abbotsford Gurudwara, have pledged to support Mr. Singh through the duration of his sanctuary, including his medical care. “We implore the government to allow Mr. Singh to remain in Canada, particularly given the fact that he has built a life here and given his medical condition. The only way that his health will not be negatively impacted is if he is able to receive adequate and continuing medical care at George Pearson Centre without the threat of deportation,” states Surdharshan Bakshi of Janta Sewak Society of Vancouver.

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