Sanctuary status sought for temples

Posted by admin on Jan 28th, 2008

No double standard, say Sikh supporters of failed refugee claimant. David Carrigg
The Province. Monday, January 28, 2008

Supporters of failed refugee claimant Laibar Singh are mounting a campaign to ensure Sikh temples continue to offer the same sanctuary a church provides. “Violating the sanctuary of a gurudwara [temple] while the sanctuary of churches has largely been respected will set a dangerous double standard,” Cynthia Wright, of York University’s school of women’s studies in Toronto, said in a statement. Singh, who has twice avoided deportation as a result of protests by his supporters, is living in Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh temple in the belief the government will not enter and remove him.

Singh entered Canada on a false Indian passport, then failed in a bid for refugee status. He is paralyzed due a medical condition that occurred while in Canada.

His supporters claim he will die if he is returned to India for lack of medical care.

They staged a rally at the Surrey temple yesterday to pressure the government into not deporting Singh. The rally was backed by protests in 13 other cities across Canada.

Rev. Margaret Marquardt, chairwoman of the justice and peace unit of the Anglican Church, said that granting sanctuary is a “sacred responsibility” and that the government has “no business in the sanctuaries of this nation.”

Denise Nadeau, of Simon Fraser University’s interfaith summer institute, said: “It is unconscionable that the government continues to insist on the deportation of a paralyzed man from sanctuary, simply to look strong.”

A May 2007 report by the House of Commons standing committee on citizenship and immigration recommended that law officials respect the right of churches and other religious organizations to provide sanctuary to those they believe need protection.

Canada Border and Services Agency has not set a deadline for a third attempt at deporting Singh.

Ron Moran, president of the Customs and Excise Union which represents border guards, has said B.C. border guards have been told by managers that Singh will be deported at some point.

Moran said the morale of guards has been affected because of the failed efforts to deport him.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said last week that deportation orders stand, whether or not their subjects are in sanctuary.

“They are in defiance of the law if they are not subjecting themselves to that removal order. That is the state of the situation,” Day said.

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