Reportback – Rally in support of Cherfi

Posted by admin on Mar 10th, 2004


Today March 9, 60 people gathered in front of CIC offices to denounce the sanctuary violation that led to Mohamed Cherfi’s arrest and deportation, and to demand that Mohamed Cherfi be brought back home.

The rally consisted of solidarity messages from the Palestine Community Center, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, Vancouver Association of Chinese-Canadians as well as public denouncements of the IRB and CIC by SFU professors and an outspoken refugee lawyer. Those gathered were moved by an aboriginal prayer conducted to ensure the safe return of Mohamed Cherfi to his home.

The message was clear: Mohamed Cherfi is not the criminal, the refugee system and the government is. Zool Suleman, a refugee lawyer, spoke about the repressive new immigration legislation, which does not yet have the Appeal division as it promised, and reinforced that the public should be outraged at the violation of sanctuary to deport a brave human rights defender. Nandita Sharma was impassioned about the need to put people’s survival and dignity before the Canadian state’s racist agenda against the communities of the global South.

Protesters carried banners and flyers ‘Bring Mohamed Cherfi home‘. Several cab drivers outside the offices and those entering the offices were keenly interested in the information. One Algerian man exited the CIC offices with a deportation date within two days and joined the demonstration for refugee rights and justice for Mohamed Cherfi. In his words “I have fled from a horrible civil war in Algeria. But still it does not compare to here. Here it is not a civil war, but it is a war of a different kind which I have been facing for four years. Here they pretend there is no war so it makes it harder to face the reality.”

After one hour, approximately 25 protestors proceeded upstairs into the CIC offices with banners, flyers and chanting “No Borders, No Nations, Stop the Deportations” through the hallways and amidst perplexed employees, judges and security. Six RCMP was already stationed upstairs. The protestors filled the tiny hallway and the waiting area and proceeded to chant to demand the return of Mohamed Cherfi. The police present there were also specifically targeted for their policies of enforcement, especially against immigrant/refugee communities and poor people, and for their complicity in violating the centuries-long tradition of sanctuary.

The energy was incredibly high as people clapped and banged and screamed throughout, effectively shutting down the office as employees were unable to continue with their ‘business as usual’ for 45 minutes. Those in the waiting area chose to remain and listen about the history of the Non-status Algerian struggle.

It was made very clear that in the weeks to come, protestors will continue to picket and target CIC for its policies of deportation and to ensure the return of Mohamed.

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