I am not talking about the bailout here. I am talking about a serious rescue.
Abousifian Abdelrazik is a Canadian who has found himself in a big pickle. He returned to his birthplace in Sudan in 2003 to visit is ailing mother. While there, the CSIS, our spy agency, apparently had him arrested. He was later allegedly interrogated by CSIS, the FBI and Sudanese intelligence officials about ties to Osama bin Laden. He was in and out of detention for years in Sudanese jails, where he alleges he was also tortured. In the meantime, his passport expired and his wife divorced him.
In April of 2008, he took refuge in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum but the Department of Foreign Affairs refused to prepare travel documents for him because he was on the US and the UN no fly lists. After much effort and a huge amount of opposition here in Canada, the federal government finally relented and said he would be allowed to return if he could produce a pre-paid airline ticket. By this time Mr. Abdelrazik was destitute and had no means to pay for a ticket. Instead 115 Canadians defied the federal government’s threat to charge them under anti-terrorism legislation and raised money to buy him a ticket and bring him home.
The ticket was paid for and the clearences offered, but yesterday the federal government reneged on its commitment and claimed that unless Mr. Abdelrazik got himself off teh UN no-fly list he could not return home. I can’t imagine how it is possible that one individual could do such a thing without the help of his own government.
Mr. Abdelrazik has not been charged with any crime. Both the RCMP and CSIS have cleared him of any wrongdoing, and in fact CSIS has even launched and internal probe to see what happened in this case. In short, Mr. Abdelrazik is no different from any other Canadian citizen travelling the world. He is in a bind not of his doing and his own government refuses to help him come home.
This is highly alarming for me and it should be for the thousands of other Canadians who leave our country every day. If you are wrongly arrested in a foreign country, does your Canadian passport mean anything? Will your government come to your rescue or will you be abandonned to rely on your own wits and resources? Do you know under what conditions the federal government will come to your aid?
With this concern in mind, today I sen the following letter to my Member of Parliament, John Weston:
Dear Mr. Weston:
As you are aware, the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik is ongoing. After creating near impossible conditions for his return to Canada, his country of citizenship, and then clearing him of any wrong doing, the federal government has now said that he must clear himself from the UN no-fly list before he can return home. It seems clear that this could be a simple matter for the Canadian government, as a UN member, to speak for the integrity of its citizens and have Mr. Abdelrazik removed from the list and not have that act subject to the veto of any other country. Surely a government can be expected to come to the aid of its citizens in such a predicament.
I am an international traveller who does business in the United States and Europe. Like Mr. AbdelrazikI I work legally and am not involved in any criminal activity. I am very concerned with this case and with the government’s intransigence in bringing this man home even after he has been cleared of any wrongdoing by our own intellegence services.
As a citizen of your riding, I would like to know that if I was ever caught in a similar situation, that my family could rely on you to do everything you can to bring me home. I would like to know, for my own peace of mind and as a citizen, what Mr. Abdelrazik has done to deserve this treatment from his own government. I know you have also travelled extensively around the world, and I would strongly request that you place yourself in Mr. Abdelrazik’s shoes and do everything you can to bring him home without any further delay.
I would like to know under what conditions I would be assured of help from the federal government should I be wrongly arrested while travelling in another country. I think legions of other business travellers and tourists would like to have the same assurances.
Mr. Weston has never responded to any of my emailed requests for information, but perhaps this time will be different. I will post his response here. I am very concerned that something is changing about Canadian citizenship and that our own government no longer has the final say in what happens to our own citizens.