From NO ONE IS ILLEGAL through The Sikh Activist Network (SAN)
UPDATE ON LAIBAR SINGH:
(important ways to support and UPCOMING EVENTS/ACTIONS, including
cross-country are included below)
Thank to all those who expressed and showed their support over the past 48
hours, it is deeply appreciated.
As people have likely heard by now, Mr. Laibar Singh was not deported on
yesterday January 9 at 4:30 am and remains in sanctuary in Guru Nanak
Sikh Temple in Surrey. The last minute notice of the deportation and the
removal time of 4:30 am was a deliberate and under-handed attempt to
thwart public outcry and support. At 4:00 am, approximately 300 supporters
gathered to protest and bear witness to CBSA's enforcement of a
deportation in violation of sanctuary. In light of a major backlash for
violating sanctuary and in the presence of hundreds of supporters, CBSA
backed off from the deportation
The Surrey Guru Nanak Gurudwara has made clear to CBSA that Laibar Singh
is in sanctuary in their premises. In having decided to enter temple
premises yesterday or any date in the future, CBSA is breaching a historic
moral tradition of sanctuary. Sanctuary is an act of courage that faith
communities take to protect the lives of those facing deportation in light
of unjust government decisions.
In a December 20, 2007 press release the Ontario Sanctuary Coalition
stated "We reaffirm the regrettable necessity of the practice of granting
Sanctuary... [Sanctuary] has now become a national movement of
conscience." Denise Nadeau of the Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition and
Acting Director of the SFU Interfaith Summer Institute states "The
deportation of Laibar Singh from sanctuary and in the face of massive
public support for this man's right to dignity and to live with his
community is a fragrant violation not only of sanctuary but of the basic
human rights of disabled persons, of asylum seekers and of the democratic
will of a significant proportion of the population."
In fact, a May 2007 report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on
Citizenship and Immigration whose members include MP's Norman Doyle,
Andrew Telegdi, Meili Faille, Omar Alghabra, Dave Batters, Barry Devolin,
Raymond Gravel, Nina Grewal, Jim Karygiannis, Ed Komarnicki, Bill Siksay,
and Blair Wilson, recommended the following to CBSA and CIC "That CIC, the
CBSA, and law enforcement officials respect the right of churches and
other religious organizations to provide sanctuary to those they believe
are in need of protection... That in cases of MEDICAL EMERGENCIES
(emphasis added), those who have sought sanctuary, and members of their
family, be allowed to receive medical treatment without the threat that
they will be arrested or detained." The August 2007 decision by CBSA to
detain Mr. Laibar Singh while he was receiving emergency care and any
future attempts by CBSA to detain Mr. Laibar Singh if he requires medical
emergency care would clearly be in defiance and contravention of the the
government's own recommendations.
Recent sensationalist media reports have attempted to question the
significance of Mr. Laibar Singh's medical condition. There is clearly no
doubt that Mr. Singh is a severely disabled and paralyzed man. Immigration
Canada's own health assessments recognize the severity of Mr. Singh's
condition. Various doctors have dealt with Mr. Singh and have stated
various causes of his paralysis; yet the basic issue remains the same: Mr.
Singh is a severely disabled and paralyzed man who should be able to
remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
As expected unfortunately, there has been a significant backlash yet again
to the South Asian community and to refugee struggles in general. Pete
McMartin at the Vancouver Sun (who previously had written about a $5 bet
with his editor about the outcome of the case) has quoted Don DeVoretz, an
advisor to the CBSA, as stating how past legal Charter victories which now
afford some (minimal) protection to refugees have "bogged down the
immigration process" and how it is negative and undesirable that with time
a refugee is able to "to integrate oneself into the community." The
significant media scrutiny and questioning of this case and the South
Asian community at-large has revealed the ways in which
immigrant/racialized communities as awhole who are constantly reminded of
their subordinate position especially during moments of resistance to the
Finally, a growing list of supporters are demanding that Mr. Laibar Singh
be granted permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
These supporters include Michael A. Leitold of the Law Union of Ontario
Steering Committee, Janet Cleveland who holds the Canada Research Chair in
International Migration Law, noted authors and researchers Naomi Klein and
Seth Klein, Professor and Japanese-Canadian redress activist Roy Mikki
(Order of Canada), Kader Belaouni who has been in sanctuary in Montreal
since Jan 2006, Sister Elizabeth Kelliher of the Fransican Sister of the
Atonement, labour activists such as Dave Bleakney of CUPW and Frank Lee of
CUPE, academics such as John Price, Nandita Sharma, Cynthia Wright, Gary
Kinsman, and Maro Jo Nadeau, Rabble Editor Derrick O'Keefe, along with the
Canadian Labour Congress, Hospital Employees Union, BC Coalition of People
with Disabilities, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Council of Canadians
BC/Yukon Chapter, Save our Rivers Society, Multifaith Action Committee,
Association of Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity Society,
Indigenous Free Skool, Solidarity Across Borders Montreal, No One Is
Illegal Toronto, Industrial Workers of the World, Vancouver Status of
Women, La Surda Latin American Collective, Interfaith Community
Consultative Committee of the SFU Interfaith Summer Institute, Ligue des
droits et libertés du Québec, Student Christian Movement of Canada,
Students for a Democratic Society UBC, Halifax Coalition Against Poverty,
Vancouver Catholic Worker, Immigrant Workers Centre Montreal, Canadian
Youth Network for Asia Pacific Solidarity, and countless more individuals
and community groups.
It is also important to note that Mr. Singh's case is not unprecedented.
In October 2006, a Polish family on tourist visas in Winnipeg suffered
from a car accident that left the father paralyzed. Initially they were
refused; however their deportation order was subsequently overturned.
Ministerial discretion in humanitarian and compassionate claims can and
has been exercised in the past to stop deportations; in fact it exists for
that very purpose.
We believe it is unfortunate that some are declaring that he must leave
because he does not "belong" any longer, despite the fact that his newly
found family and community are here. Certainly his physical state of
paralysis and the widespread community support he has received are all
crucial factors and realities for Mr. Singh. He, like anyone else, should
be entitled to live a healthy and dignified life.
We must challenge the idea that some are more worthy than others to decide
their right to mobility and their assertion of self determination; instead
we should accept these as universal values of humanity. The struggle
against deportation and to support Laibar is not for him alone nor is it
simply one case, rather it symbolizes the struggles for all immigrant and
refugees who daily struggle to live with dignity. His situation reveals
how hard and long racialized migrants must fight to assert their right to
self-determination that the Canadian government consistently denies and
instead perpetuates pain, anxiety, and violence through detentions and
deportations against which we must continue to actively organize
All Power to the People! No One is Illegal!
For more information call 778 552 2099 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For an excellent backgrounder visit Communities For Laibar Singh:
WAYS TO SUPPORT AND UPCOMING EVENTS/ACTIONS
broader issues of migration and race with speakers lawyer Zool Suleman,
representatives of the Canadian Labour Congress and Hospital Employees
Union, theologian Denise Nadeau, and South Asian community organizers
Gurpreet Singh and Gurvinder Dhaliwal.
Details: Saturday Jan 12th at 5:45 pm at Vancouver Public Library.
Organized by Communities for Laibar Singh. Call 604 779 7430.
Further details are available at: http://noii-van.resist.ca/?p=610
2) Please write letters to the editor, post online, or call into radio
shows into the various media outlets that are covering this story. We
strongly urge and stress to supporters the importance of voicing your
opinion on this issue and adding your thoughts to the very public debate
on Laibar Singh and immigration in general. Although it may seem futile
and given the biases that have been clearly stated by various media
outlets, it is still absolutely crucial for us to enter this public debate
and discourse at this time.
3) Please stay in tune for details on an upcoming vigil in support of
Laibar Singh as part of a National Day of Action in Support of Laibar
Singh along with allies in Montreal, Toronto and other cities.
*** Our allies in Toronto with No One Is Illegal Toronto, Sikh Activist
Network and their supporters are organizing a delegation and press
conference in support of Laibar Singh. Details: FRIDAY JAN 11 at 10am at
25 St. Clair Avenue East, Toronto (Immigration Canada Regional offices.
Please visit toronto.nooneisillegal.org for more details. (Sorry, this is past.)
4) Please continue to pressure Immigration Minister Diane Finley. We
realize that most of you are probably flooded by letter-writing campaigns
or find letter-writing futile. However, it is CLEAR that the government
has been forced to respond to an unparalled amount of support and pressure
and it is time that they get the message and grant Mr. Laibar Singh a
permanent stay on his deportation order. If you have called or written
before, please do so again!
IMMIGRATION MINISTER DIANE FINLAY
* CALL (PREFERABLE): (613) 996-4974
* FAX: (613) 996-9749
* EMAIL: minister at cic.gc.ca and Finley.D at parl.gc.ca
MINISTER STOCKWELL DAY (RESPONSIBLE FOR CBSA)
* CALL: 613.995.1702 or 250.770.4480
* FAX: 613.995.1154 or 250.770.4484
* EMAIL: day.s at parl.gc.ca or days1 at parl.gc.ca
======> SAMPLE LETTER <========
Minister Finley and Minister Day,
Regarding: Laibar Singh
I am writing regarding the situation of Mr. Laiber Singh. I am sure that
you are aware of the case of the paralyzed Punjabi refugee claimant Mr.
Laiber Singh, who is currently facing deportation .
A wide variety of human rights organizations, disability advocates and
community groups have also expressed their support for Mr. Singh's bid to
remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. These groups
include the Canadian Labour Congress, BC Coalition of People with
Disabilities, B.C Hospital Employees Union, the Multifaith Action
Committee, and a long list of South Asian community groups and gurudwaras.
Over the past few months, approximately forty thousand people have signed
an Official petition to Parlimament in support of Mr. Singh remaining in
Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
On October 9, 2007, a group of health care professionals- including 13
independent doctors- issued a letter to Immigration Minster Diane Finley
stating, "As health professionals, we are outraged at the fact that the
Canadian government would consider deporting a paraplegic man, whose
health condition is extremely fragile… For the sake of his safety, health
and well being, we fully support him and demand that [the Minister] grant
him permanent residency status on the basis of humanitarian and
compassionate grounds immediately."
It is outrageous that the Canadian government would deport a man who is
already struggling to life a live of dignity and autonomy, and whose
physical health is so fragile.For the sake of his own safety, for the
well-being of his physical health, and based on the life that Mr.Singh has
already established, I fully support him and demand that you stop the
deportation of Mr. Laibar Singh immediately and grant him permanent
residency status. I also urgently request that the Canadian government and
CBSA officals respect the sanctity of sanctuary that the Guru Nanak Sikh
temple have granted to Mr. Laibar Singh and not attempt to remove Mr.
Singh from sanctuary or detain him if he requires urgent medical attention
at a medical facility.
Some see things as they are and ask, Why?
I dream things that never were and ask, Why not?