NOII Opposes Beefing of Transit Security

Posted by admin on Aug 9th, 2005



Vancouver August 9, 2005- Immigrant and refugee communities represented in No One is Illegal Vancouver  are outraged at the security meetings conducted by Federal Transportation Minister Jean Lapierre to discuss security in Canada’s public transit system in the wake of the London bombings. 

Upgraded security measures in the post 9/11 climate have led to an increase of racial profiling and invasion of privacy rights. Within weeks of 9/11, Canada has implemented a wide array of laws and practices in the areas of criminal law, immigration law, tax law, employment, intelligence services, and airport security. Further Orwellian measures, such as the increased use of cameras in subway and trains proposed by LaPierre, will have a devastating effect on the right to privacy in public spaces and despite government assurances, will have a disproportionate impact on racialized communities.

“We are increasingly moving towards a paranoid police state as Canada is moving towards harmonizing security policies with the United States,” states Amal Rana, member of the immigrant and refugee rights group No One is Illegal.

In the United States, two elected officials Dov Hikind and James Oddo, have publicly stated that Middle Easterners should be targeted for searches on city subways as they fit the “terrorist profile.” Hikind further stated, “They all look a certain way and …[they are] a group of people who want to kill us and destroy our way of life.”

According to a January 2004 handout, the Department of Homeland Security advises U.S. border authorities to look out for certain “suicide bomber indicators.” They include a “A short haircut or recently shaved beard or moustache may be evident by differences in skin complexion on the head or face. May smell of herbal or flower water (most likely flower water), as they may have sprayed perfume on themselves, their clothing, and weapons to prepare for Paradise.

The American Civil Liberties Union- New York Chapter filed a lawsuit on August 4, 2005 in response to the New York Police Department’s unprecedented policy of subjecting millions of New Yorkers to suspicionless searches in subways. Since the police adopted this policy just days after the London bombings, officers have searched the purses, handbags, briefcases and backpacks of thousands of people, all without any suspicion of wrongdoing.

Harsha Walia, member of No One is Illegal, further states, “Like many human rights organizations throughout the world, we are deeply concerned about the erosion of rights since September 11, 2001. The recent push for transit security by Jean Lapierre , along with all the other so-called security measures such as Canada’s Anti-terrorism legislation and harmonization of border policies, have a fundamentally adverse impact on civil liberties, human rights, refugee protection, and political dissent.”


Media contacts in No One is Illegal: Amal Rana: 604-764-6257;  Parisa Yazdi: 778-839-1416

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