Thursday, October 20, 2022

Send Birthday Cards to Jack Letts, Illegally Detained in an Overseas Dungeon for 5.5 years!



(Details below the description)


November 14 marks a bittersweet day for Jack Letts, a Canadian citizen wrongfully detained in Syria for 5 and a half years. An idealistic teenager who went abroad to support the Arab Spring aspirations of the Syrian people, he has been detained under conditions the UN calls tantamount to torture because the Canadian government refuses to bring him home. A staunch opponent of Daesh – he was in fact imprisoned by them on numerous occasions for speaking out against their violence – Jack has also been the subject of a vicious smear campaign based on the fruits of his own torture (learn more at


The United Nations recently condemned Canada’s complicity in Jack’s arbitrary detention  and slammed Ottawa for breaching international law. It has also condemned Canadian participation in the ongoing detention of 44 Canadian men, women and children in the same series of prisons and detention camps known as “Canada’s and Europe’s Guantanamo.” (See 


While other countries from Kazakhstan, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Netherlands, Albania, France, the USA, Germany, Iraq and Russia have repatriated their citizens, the Canadians continue to suffer, with their loved ones forced to head to Federal Court demanding the Canadian government exercise its responsibility to bring them home. Ironically, these Canadians are held by a Canadian ally in Rojava, who have only ever asked for two things: for Canada to send someone to the region, and to sign repatriation papers once there. That’s it. In fact, Canada was within one week of doing so in 2018 when it engaged in a complete about face that appears linked to a cover-up over Canadian spy agency CSIS trafficking of teenaged girls to the region.


Global Affairs Canada Minister Mélanie Joly is responsible for the fate of these Canadians, including Jack Letts. Because it is impossible for Canadians to send mail to the prisons and camps in Rojava, we are sending birthday cards (postage free) c/o Mélanie Joly as a symbolic reminder of her responsibility to Jack and the other Canadians.



1. Make your own card or purchase a birthday card for Jack


2. Inside, write a brief note wishing him a happy birthday and letting him know that you support his right not to be arbitrarily detained and his right to return to Canada, along with the other men, women and kids illegally held in Syria. 


3. If you can, please take a selfie with your card to Jack that we can share on social media and send it to


4. Also enclose a brief note that reads thusly (feel free to print this portion and include it in your card):


Dear Mélanie Joly, 

As you know, some four dozen Canadians remain arbitrarily detained in NE Syria largely because Global Affairs Canada has refused to take the necessary steps to bring them home. While four women and children were repatriated at the end of October, some 40 individuals remain stuck under appalling conditions akin to torture.

In January 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross declared: “States must repatriate their own citizens. Not just children. Children, women and men.” At the same time, Dr. Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of the Kurdish administration’s foreign office in Northeast Syria, reiterated what they have been saying for years: “Every country should take its citizens back.”  On January 31, 2022, the US State Department called on its partners to “urgently repatriate their nationals and other detainees remaining in northeast Syria.”

Closer to home, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development also recommended repatriation in June 2021.

How can the government of Canada, which played a lead role in drafting and signing a global pact on ending arbitrary detention, refuse to take immediate action to end the arbitrary detention of Canadian men, women and children enduring conditions that the United Nations has described as meeting the “threshold for torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international law”?

Your mandate letter mentions ending arbitrary detention four times!  

I support the repatriation of these 8 Canadian men, 11 Canadian women and 21 Canadian children. One of them, Jack Letts, has a birthday on November 14. His 27th birthday marks 5.5 years in arbitrary detention. I cannot mail anything to his prison, but since you are legally responsible for Jack’s well-being and the safety of the other Canadians, I am mailing this card for Jack to you.

 I am sure one of Jack’s birthday wishes is to be back home in Canada with his mom. Please make this happen, stop fighting Jack’s family and other Canadians in court, close Canada’s Guantanamo, and bring everyone home.





Mail a card and this note (postage free!) directly to:

Mélanie Joly

c/o House of Commons

Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

UN Slams Canada’s Failure to Repatriate Citizens Illegally Detained in Syria; Detainees Face Life-Threatening Conditions


"We survived ISIS, we were the lucky ones. … But can we survive the camps?” asks Canadian detainee Kimberly Polman, who marks her 4th birthday under Canadian-funded arbitrary detention in Syria at the end of September.

By Matthew Behrens


In a stinging critique of the Trudeau government’s complicity in the arbitrary detention in Northeast Syria of 44 Canadian Muslim men, women and children, a group of United Nations Special Rapporteurs has called on Ottawa to stop violating international law and to repatriate all of its citizens.


In addition, the Rapporteurs also slammed Canadian support for and investment in the very infrastructure of arbitrary detention which holds these 8 Canadian men, 13 women and 23 children – among tens of thousands of other foreign nationals who traveled to the region for a wide variety of reasons in the 2010s – under conditions tantamount to torture.


Given the apparently intentional effort to prevent their return, one might very well name the archipelago of Syrian camps and prisons for what they are: Canada’s Guantanamo Bay, a torturous world of indefinite detention for a group of Muslim-Canadian citizens who, to serve the political and state security agenda of Canada’s “intelligence” apparatus, have been left to die absent a significant intervention.


The UN report, released in late August 2022, focuses on the case of one of the longest held detainees, 26-year-old Canadian Jack Letts, who as a teenager went to Syria to contribute as a humanitarian volunteer during the Arab Spring uprising against the brutal Assad regime. Despite his very public opposition to the Daesh (aka ISIS) occupiers of a significant swath of Syria and Iraq, Letts wound up detained, tortured by proxy via questions from the UK, and libeled in a relentless media campaign built around Islamophobic tropes and information gleaned from that torture.


The UN’s broadside is the latest in a lengthy series of studies documenting serious human rights violations imposed on tens of thousands of people arbitrarily detained by the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (Rojava, or AANES), a Canadian ally in the war against Daesh.



While Canada refuses to lift a finger for its illegally held citizens, countries from Kazakhstan, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Netherlands, Albania, France, the USA, the UK, Germany, Iraq and Russia have repatriated at least some of their citizens. Ironically, Canada itself is spending $2.9 million to repatriate Iraqi citizens at the same time it has forced families of the Canadian detainees to head to Federal Court later this year seeking an order for their return.


Canada’s Shocking About Face

With the US State Department, United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Save the Children, an all-party committee of Canadian Parliamentarians – not to mention the Kurdish captors themselves – all calling for repatriation, why has Canada chosen to look the other way from this clear humanitarian crisis?

A stunning affidavit that reveals Canada's about-face on repatriation

An affidavit connected to the upcoming court case reveals that Canada underwent a serious about-face on repatriation in 2018, described in a sworn statement of British MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle who, along with high-ranking British Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, travelled to the camps in 2018.  


“I learnt from those officials at the DFNS [Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, which holds the detainees] that there had been extensive discussions between Canadians and the DFNS officials,” Russell-Moyle testified.  “The DFNS and the Canadians together had taken steps  towards the repatriation of all the Canadians ….  They were, the DFNS understood, only about ‘a week from the Canadians going home’. I was informed there was a ‘Heads of Terms’ document between the Canadians and the DFNS about how that transfer would be completed. I asked for copies of this document. To the consternation of the DFNS officials, the official Canadian interest in repatriating their nationals, including their children, suddenly went cold without explanation and the DFNS felt they could not share further documentation with me regarding this case. Whilst I have no confirmation of this fact from the British government, it was my understanding that this happened as a result of British intervention with the Canadian  government”.


That conclusion appears to dovetail with comments in a landmark report by Human Rights Watch, in which Kurdish foreign affairs official Abdulkarim Omar shared that Canada was the first country to be in touch regarding repatriation back in 2018. In a 2020 interview, Omar told the human rights group that Canada “sent us application forms and travel document papers. Canadians [detained in northeast Syria] filled out all of it and we sent back scanned versions. We got to the point of them coming to pick up their citizens, then everything stopped. We don’t know why. This was two years ago. … We would love a meeting with Canada on this issue.”


Pawns in the Spy Games?

While it is unclear exactly why Canada would go from being within a week of repatriation to four subsequent years of refusing to cooperate with families and loved ones of the detainees, the recent headlines reviving a 2015 story about the role of a Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) operative in trafficking young British Muslim girls to the Syrian war zone could very well be connected to it.


When Justin Trudeau defended the CSIS child trafficking as “creative” and “flexible”, he declined to comment on the other revelation: that CSIS withheld its role in trafficking the British girls from UK authorities, and “It was only after [the CSIS operative] was arrested, and they feared this could become public that the Canadians made a move and notified the British authorities.”


A new book highlighting the scandal notes CSIS also made representations to the Turkish regime, apologizing for running a trafficking operation on Turkish soil without their knowledge and permission. The CSIS operative, who was arrested and detained for several years, has apparently been released and may well already be in Canada, a repatriation whose irony is not lost on the families of the detainees.


All of this begs a question. Was the price for British forgiveness of and assistance in the cover-up over CSIS trafficking girls to Syria without informing their UK intelligence partners (the cardinal sin not being the trafficking so much as the failure to let their spy brethren know about it) a quid pro quo to keep the Canadian detainees in Syria? Would a Canadian release have undermined the British demonization of UK citizens also held in Syrian camps, a process used to justify stripping of citizenship and the UK’s refusal to repatriate? One of the trafficked girls, Shamima Begum (two of the other girls were subsequently killed), was unjustifiably built up as a monster in the UK press, had her citizenship stripped, and became the public face of a moral panic around a relatively small group of young individuals who either chose (or were lured) to travel to Syria.


Indeed, if Canada’s Prime Minister defends the crime of child trafficking in the name of state security, it’s not too far fetched to believe that his government would be willing to sacrifice the lives of 44 Canadian Muslims to satisfy the Islamophobic imperatives of its spy apparatus and that of its British counterparts.


As Begum’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee pointed out, “at the very same time we have been cooperating with a Western ally, trading sensitive intelligence with them whilst they have effectively been nabbing British children and trafficking them across the Syrian border for delivery to ISIS, all in the name of intelligence gathering. The calculation here is that the lives of British children, and the risk of their death, is part of the algorithm of acceptable risk our Western allies have taken.”


While much of the press coverage of this scandal has focused on the propriety of such spy activity (legalized under the Trudeau government with Bill C-59 (“An Act respecting national security matters”), but certainly illegal at the time it was committed), there’s been precious little coverage of the camps where so many internationals remain abandoned by their governments.



Urgent Repatriation Call

It is in this context that the UN Rapporteurs declared in their Jack Letts appeal that “the urgent, voluntary and human rights compliant repatriation of all the [Canadian] citizens…is the only international law-compliant response to the complex and precarious human rights, humanitarian, and security situation” of the detainees.  


The Rapporteurs expressed “serious concern regarding Mr. Letts’ continued detention since 2017 in North-East Syria and his rights to life, security, and physical and mental health due to the dire conditions of detention…[there is] no legal basis, no judicial authorisation, review control, or oversight of his detention which entirely lacks predictability and due process of law.”


They add that they are “extremely concerned” by the fact that “it appears that none of the conditions to prevent arbitrary detention – a right so fundamental that it remains applicable even in the most extreme situations – are respected, and that no steps towards terminating or reviewing the legality of the detention have been taken, despite Mr. Letts having been detained for five years, which in practice amounts to the possibility of indefinite detention.”

The report stands in stark contrast to Ottawa’s self-congratulatory rhetoric on arbitrary detention, including its role in organizing a 2021 Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations as a means of upholding “universal values, firmly grounded in international law.” That declaration arose from Canadian government outrage that two white, non-Muslim men were being illegally detained by China, but has not been invoked to condemn the holding of 44 Canadian Muslim men, women and children by Canada’s Kurdish allies.

The UN Letts report arrives almost a year after the UN Rapporteurs issued a similarly stark document calling for the repatriation of Canadian Kimberly Polman, who had traveled to Syria in 2015 at the behest of her future husband on the understanding that she would be providing healthcare for women and children. According to Human Rights Watch, shortly after she arrived in Syria, Polman wanted to get out, but was trapped in an abusive relationship: her husband put her in jail for 10 months for being a “disobedient wife.”


Held arbitrarily without charge since January, 2019, Polman’s physical and mental health have undergone a serious decline, with untreated hepatitis, kidney inflammation/enlargement, untreated Hashimoto’s disease, bone/muscle challenges, suicide attempts, and post-traumatic stress disorder. A report from Doctors Without Borders found her conditions “life-threatening,” and recommended testing and medical care not available to her in Northeast Syria. During a months-long hunger strike, Polman lost more than half her body weight.


Vulnerable to Trafficking

While Polman’s family “has requested on numerous occasions that the Canadian government  facilitate the transfer of money for medical supplies, food, and water, [Ottawa] has not facilitated these requests.” 























(Kimberly Polman before she went overseas)



The Rapporteurs expressed concerns that in addition to the denial of Polman’s rights to security and health and not to be subjected to arbitrary detention, “she may be vulnerable to all sorts of abuses and trafficking.” In conclusion, the Rapporteurs reiterated that all countries, including Canada, “have a positive obligation under international law to protect the right of, and repatriate, their nationals.” They added that in Polman’s case, her return is “both a legal and humanitarian imperative….Ms. Polman is experiencing profound infringements on her human rights, we are concerned for her survival and believe that her return to Canada is critical to prevent those specific and identifiable harms.”


On February 10, 2022, 10 UN experts again called for Polman’s repatriation to receive life-saving medical care. While Global Affairs officials acknowledged in court papers that Polman was eligible to be considered for repatriation because of her medical condition, Letta Tayler, Associate Crisis and Conflict Director at Human Rights Watch, pointedly asked: “How close to death do Canadians have to be for their government to decide they qualify for repatriation? Canada should be helping its citizens unlawfully held in northeast Syria, not obstructing their ability to get life-saving health care.”


An Unrepentant Scofflaw

The cases of Letts, Polman, and the other 42 Canadian men, women and children  detained in Northeast Syria shine a glaring spotlight on Canada’s role as an unrepentant scofflaw when it comes to respecting international law.  


In addressing the unending detention of Jack Letts, the Rapporteurs write that, as with the no-exceptions ban on torture, the prohibition on arbitrary detention is a peremptory norm of international treaty and customary law from which no one is ever allowed to derogate. Indeed, they write “arbitrary deprivation of liberty can never be a necessary or proportionate measure,” adding that no country can ever claim that “illegal, unjust or unpredictable deprivation of liberty is necessary for the protection of a vital security or other interest proportionate to that end.”


Yet that is what the Liberals – and, specifically, the Global Affairs Canada (GAC)  bureaucracy – have done with a policy framework that seeks to use unnamed and unsubstantiated threats as an excuse not to fulfill their duty to ensure the return of the Canadian detainees and to end their complicity in torture and arbitrary detention.


The framework’s top priority lists “national security considerations,” and applies those  equally to adults and children under the age of 7. Despite a growing body of case law which proves otherwise, the document declares there is no “positive obligation” on the part of Global Affairs Canada to provide consular assistance or repatriation.


“In practice, the policy has done nothing to facilitate repatriations since its adoption and suggests discriminatory provision of consular assistance,” Human Rights Watch concluded. To add insult to injury, GAC failed to share its framework for a full year with the family members; it only came out through the legal case’s disclosure process.


Even though the life-threatening conditions faced by Kimberly Polman qualified her for repatriation under GAC’s highly restrictive policy, Canada has actively prevented her return, even when a former US diplomat offered to escort her out of the camp. Polman described the long-term effects of malnutrition to CTV news earlier this year, saying “Almost everyone’s got breaking teeth. And they’re not just breaking, like cracking. It’s almost like they’re tearing off because they’re soft.”



Subcontracting Arbitrary Detention

As disturbing as the Canadian government’s failure to repatriate its citizens is its role in subcontracting their suffering via a non-state party, which is consistent with past Canadian practices of subcontracting torture of Canadians Muslims in Cuba’s  Guantanamo Bay, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, and other countries (documented by two judicial inquiries as well as numerous Federal and Supreme Court decisions).


The UN Rapporteurs highlight the fact that the very members of the so-called Global Coalition fighting Daesh are investing in the detention infrastructure that punishes their citizens with conditions described as tantamount to torture and which have no legal basis in law (much like the CIA black sites and other torture centres that have long been part of a global network of repression).


Indeed, the Rapporteurs note “that what is now emerging is capacity building and technical assistance provision supporting such indefinite detention of [Canadian] nationals enabled and supported in part by the Coalition” of which Canada is a member. Indeed, the “entrenchment and protraction of allegedly arbitrary detention in these inhumane condition in North-East Syria … is premised on the direct security assistance provided by the Coalition” to a non-state entity, the Kurdish authorities. In turn, this raises “serious questions of State responsibility and of complicity in the facilitation, sustainment and continuation of the serious human rights violations that are taking place in the prisons and detention centres in North-East Syria.”

















Sally Lane seeking a meeting with Trudeau to free her son Jack Letts


The Rapporteur reminds Canada that “States must not render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by the serious breach [of international human rights law] and must cooperate to bring it to an end.” They also remind Canada that the building and support “for the maintenance of prisons designed to keep these individuals in detention are incompatible” with Canada’s international law obligations, especially the unbreakable commitment prohibiting arbitrary detention.

While the Dept. of Justice prepares arguments for the upcoming repatriation court case, it is no doubt looking to the French government, which was the subject of a significant European Court of Human Rights decision earlier in September regarding the repatriation of French woman and children. As Un Special Rapporteur Fionnuala Ní Aoláin points out, the decision affirms  “a continuously deteriorating humanitarian situation and a rights-free zone in which thousands of men, women, and children have been arbitrarily detained for the past four years absent any legal basis or review of the legality of their detention. Importantly, the Court’s decision puts to rest myths relating to the impossibility of repatriation for security reasons due to its confirmation that European states have access to the camps and have successfully repatriated individuals in the past. All of this indicates that states do not have a strong legal basis for denying repatriation requests, particularly for vulnerable individuals who have had their fundamental rights violated for far too long.”

In a revealing section of the decision, the French government concedes (in a declaration that sounds like it is Canada’s own policy) that it is fearful that any “humanitarian action might become an obligation for the future.” 

Let Them Eat Sand

The case of the Canadian detainees is an open secret in Ottawa, yet apart from two statements by NDP MP Heather McPherson and Green MP Elizabeth May, no one has  raised concern. While Liberal MPs like Sameer Zuberi of the Parliamentary Muslim caucus have staked their turf around the very justified concerns around Uyghur Muslims arbitrarily detained in China, they have consciously chosen silence for their fellow Muslim citizens arbitrarily detained in Syria. There is a crude sense, according to off the record conversations with various community leraders, that none dare touch these 44 Canadians, the ultimate victims of a Good Muslim, Bad Muslim dualism in which Islamophobic electoral politics trump the universality of human rights.  


It is their silence that perpetuates Canada’s Guantanamo in northeast Syria, where there is no clean water or nutritious food, few diapers or sanitary towels, no medical care, no education and no privacy. There are no playgrounds: children play next to cesspools of human waste, into which some have fallen. Sewage floods their flimsy tents while wild dogs roam the camps terrorizing people. Malnutrition is rampant, many have been killed in all too frequent tent fires, and communicable diseases common to such concentration camps such as tuberculosis and cholera are a constant threat.


One Canadian child’s nutritional deficiency makes them crave salt and minerals, and so they eat sand and dirt. This is not a secret. This has been shared with Global Affairs Canada. Yet Justin Trudeau, Melanie Joly and Chrystia Freeland are behaving as if state security requires this child to eat sand and dirt and to die in the slow suffering of starvation. Hundreds die every year from preventable causes.


The men’s prison cells are packed with bone-thin prisoners, many with amputated limbs. Detainees remain in the same position from 8 am to midnight because they are so tightly packed in, with 1 overflowing latrine for 80 people.


Loved ones of the detainees, respected international organizations, and fellow governments keep GAC officials abreast of all these facts. But instead of acting to end this nightmare, Canadian government lawyers are busy preparing arguments to keep 44 Canadian citizens there forever. While a petition in support of repatriation now has almost 11,000 signatures, it will take a lot more voices to turn the tide of this humanitarian catastrophe.


In September 2021, Kimberly Polman wrote a letter describing her plight. “I am continually bleeding,” she wrote. “My teeth are all legs cannot walk or stand... I am dying a slow death here and I have done everything I can think of to get help. Nothing has worked.”


In a previous letter, Polman also asked a question that can only be answered by people of conscience willing to take a stand and demand immediate repatriation: “We survived ISIS, we were the lucky ones. … But can we survive the camps?”  



 (an edited version of this story will appear at



Saturday, May 21, 2022

Dr. Monia Mazigh Calls on Trudeau: Free Jack Letts, Free ALL the 44 Canadians Detained in Northern Syria

"Twenty years ago, my husband, Maher Arar, was also detained in Syria. He was never charged with any crime and still the Canadian government didn’t help him to come back, and similarly they put all the obstacles to stop his repatriation. If it wasn’t for the will, determination and activism of people like the ones who are standing here, my husband would have died in his Syrian prison."  – Dr. Monia Mazigh, May 19, 2022


Text of a speech by Dr. Monia Mazigh in support of repatriation for Canadian Jack Letts and 43 other Canadian men, women and children arbitrarily detained in Northeast Syria.


May 19, 2022


 Today I am standing here in the stairs of the Prime Minister office with a group of Canadian citizens who are worried about the rights of other Canadian citizens.


We are worried to see the rights of Jack Letts and 43 other Canadians being disregarded ignored and abandoned.


Since 2017, there are 44 Canadian citizens who are held in Northern Syria by the Kurdish forces. They are held in conditions similar to torture. It is  estimated that there are two dozen Canadian children, most age 7 and under, unlawfully detained in these camps and prisons.


This is what Human Rights Watch said in their report: “Canada has an obligation under international law to take necessary and reasonable steps to assist nationals abroad facing serious abuses including risks to life, torture, and inhuman and degrading treatment. International law also grants everyone the right to return to their country of nationality, without their government throwing up direct or indirect barriers.”


Why is the government of Canada doing nothing to bring back its own citizens home? Worse, why is Canada putting obstacles for families of Canadians who are trying to bring their loved ones back home?


Where is Madame Mélanie Joly, Canadian foreign affairs minister? Why doesn’t she stand up for the rights of Canadian children?


Where is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who once declared “a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian”? Why doesn’t he stand up to bring home Jack Letts and 43 other Canadians detained in Northern Syria?


Twenty years ago, my husband, Maher Arar, was also detained in Syria. He was never charged with any crime and still the Canadian government didn’t help him to come back, and similarly they put all the obstacles to stop his repatriation. If it wasn’t for the will, determination and activism of people like the ones who are standing here, my husband would have died in his Syrian prison.


In the last twenty years, Canadians Muslims have been surveilled, spied upon, harassed in their workplaces and campuses, put under house arrest, had to wear electronic bracelets in their ankles to watch their movements, rendered to torture, kept for more than 10 years in Guantanamo, sent to prisons to disappear.


Canadian legislation was brought to criminalize Canadian Muslims. Very few courageous politicians and engaged citizens stood up against this systemic Islamophobia.


Today, we have 44 Muslim Canadians detained in Northern Syria. They were never charged with any crimes. Their Canadian families want them back home but the Canadian government is stopping them.


How come an American former diplomat, Peter Galbraith, is able to do more than the whole Canadian government? And still the Canadian government refuse to cooperate with him?


Today as a Canadian Muslim woman who went through Islamophobia and still suffer from what the Canadian government did to my husband, my children and myself, I am asking Prime Minister Trudeau to walk the talk and fulfill his promises of fighting hate and Islamophobia:


-       Bring Jack Letts home to his mother Sally Lane and his family.

-       Bring all the 43 other Canadians detained abroad including the children who can’t go to school, learn and live in healthy and safe environment.

-       Listen to what  organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International had mentioned in their report about the urgent need to provide consular services and repatriation assistance to these Canadians detained abroad.

-       Listen to Fionnuala Ni Aolain, the UN Special Rapporteur for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism, who put Canada on a "list of shame" because it won't take active steps to repatriate its foreign nationals trapped in Kurdish-controlled camps in northern Syria.



As a country, we have no credibility when on one hand we champion the rights of Uyghurs detained in Chinese concentration camps but on the other hand we leave other Canadians detained by Kurdish forces.


Prime Minister Trudeau is probably scared of losing any political capital in returning home Muslim Canadians.


But this is not leadership.


Leadership isn’t a popularity contest.


It is about applying the laws and stopping the arbitrary detention and the abuse of human rights of ALL Canadians.


Free Jack Letts, free all the 44 Canadian detained in Northern Syria.


Dr. Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. She speaks Arabic, French, and English fluently and holds a Ph.D. in finance from McGill University. Dr. Mazigh has worked at the University of Ottawa and taught at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia.  In 2004, she ran in the federal election as a candidate for the NDP, gaining the most votes for her riding in the history of the NDP.

Dr. Mazigh was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge for over a year.  During that time, Dr. Mazigh campaigned vigorously for her husband’s release and later fought to re-establish his reputation and sought reparations. In January 2007, after a lengthy inquiry, her husband finally received an apology from the Canadian government and was offered compensation for the “terrible ordeal” his family had suffered. 

Dr. Mazigh has since authored a book called Hope and Despair, published with McClelland and Stewart in 2008. The memoir documents her ordeal after her husband was arrested and how she campaigned to clear his name.  Hope and Despair was shortlisted for the Book Award of the City of Ottawa. In 2014, her first novel, Mirrors and Mirages was published by House of Anansi. It was the finalist of the City of Ottawa Book Award and of the Trillium Award in its original French version. In 2017, Dr. Mazigh published at House of Anansi, her second novel, Hope Has Two Daughters. It was the finalist for the Champlain Book award. Dr. Mazigh presently lives in Ottawa with her husband and two children.