Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Designated Olympic Protest Zones: Not Just in Beijing!

Designated Olympic Protest Zones from Beijing to Toronto (a report from Toronto Action for Social Change)

(Left, Kamila Talendibaeva, holding bullhorn, calls on those inside the Chinese consulate in Toronto to meet about bringing her husband, Huseyin Celil, back to Canada)

As many “Westerners” sneered at the Chinese government for its designated protest zones during the Olympics, it was terribly convenient to forget that this experiment in Beijing-style “democracy” was nothing new. In fact, it’s how the Chinese have learned “democracy” from those who boast most about it, countries like the US and Canada, where designated protest zones, police repression, and denial of freedom of assembly are all too common.

Anyone who is familiar with large or small scale Canadian protests has been subject to the insult of designated protest pens, mini-jails that are nowhere near the spot where the protest makes the most sense. In last summer’s Montebello protest (where the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico gathered and RCMP undercover agents were “uncovered” holding rocks after trying to rile a crowd), a field in the middle of nowhere was “given” to protesters, who smartly refused it. In the G-8 summit at Kananaskis, all roads were simply cut off, stranding individuals wanting to protest as closely as possible to the world’s most powerful warlords. And the 2010 Olympics on stolen First Nations land is already shaping up be a police paradise of secret warehouse detention centres, street sweeps of “undesirables”, and protest zones that will likely be as near to the games area as Kamloops is to Kazakhstan.
In downtown Toronto, anyone who has dared raise a placard or held the end of a banner knows from experience that the area is full of what might charitably be called Charter–free zones, where the guarantees of free expression and assembly do not exist. Such zones spring up at the whim of Metro police and the RCMP, and are usually aimed at individuals who, for lack of a better description, are not terribly satisfied with the status quo. For example, the sidewalk in front of the U.S. consulate on University Avenue is open to anyone who wishes to walk by, provided they are not carrying a sign. The minute that happens, they are told by police to move across the street or face arrest. Of course, if you want to have a 9/11 memorial right on that sidewalk, where businesspeople are invited to leave condolence notes, the area is open to you.

Similar police behaviour occurs during protests at the Metro Convention Centre, where ordinarily public sidewalks are suddenly declared “private property”, off-limits to such gatherings (even as Blue Jays and Argonauts fans throng by waving their team flags and banners and placards.)

Anyone who questions such behaviour is told by Metro Police and RCMP that this is the way things are. Further questioning is met with cold stares or threats of arrest. One can challenge such arbitrary edicts, of course, but there is a risk that this may result in an overnight stay in downtown lockup. It is strange indeed – and no small matter of intimidation -- that people planning to attend simple, peaceful protests in a “democratic” society must build in possible jail time as part of their daily planners.

For individuals who work in groups such as Toronto Action for Social Change, this is nothing new. One of our members found this out the hard way almost a decade ago when he decided to protest a gathering of terrorists at the Royal York hotel. It was a celebratory meeting of NATO war ministers who were then gladhanding themselves over the terror bombing of the former Yugoslavia, a campaign that had renewed the manhood of the allegedly flaccid military alliance. This mild-mannered gentleman (then 64 years of age) decided to take his one-person protest, wearing an anti-war sign, to the front of the hotel shortly after midnight (having first enjoyed a mellow night of jazz at the Rex). He was told he was not allowed on the sidewalk because it was “private property.” He argued the point, then insisted that if he could not be on the sidewalk, he would stand in the street, whereupon he was arrested, assaulted by police, and held overnight with an assault charge that was eventually dropped.

Anyone familiar with street protest in Toronto knows this is common police practice. Other TASC members have been banned for life from Queen’s Park for planting vegetable gardens or singing persistently.

While these are annoying inconveniences on the road to justice, they certainly are nothing compared to the police behaviour directed at anyone in this city who does not enjoy white skin privilege or a certain amount of financial assets. Incessant harassment of the homeless, area bans issued against young people because of their skin colour (police essentially tell them not to enter the downtown shopping district upon pain of arrest), and the standard crimes of driving while black or flying while Arab remain daily signs that Canadian democracy is limited to those with the largest amounts of cash and privilege.

So all the holier-than-thou coverage of what happens with the Chinese protest scene during the Olympics takes on the stink of high irony. Nowhere was this made more clear than during a series of protests we organized this summer at the Chinese consulate on St. George Street with the Canadian Committee to Free Huseyin Celil, a Canadian wrongfully jailed for life in China on trumped up charges.
Celil is a Uyghur who spoke up for the rights of his brutally repressed people and eventually escaped China, coming to Canada as a refugee with his family and children, and eventually becoming citizens. He was arrested in Uzbekistan over two years ago and illegally handed over to China, where he was threatened with unspeakable tortures into signing a “confession.” Celil was not allowed to present a defence at his “trial,” nor were Canadian consular officials allowed to attend.

Since China had promised to improve human rights if it were given the 2008 summer Olympics, we decided to organize a series of walks and rallies encouraging that government to keep its promise while calling on the Canadian government to appoint a special envoy to go and do whatever is necessary to get Celil freed.

The first demonstration we held, a hot Sunday afternoon in late June, got off on a bad footing when four of us, quietly enjoying the shade of the trees at the consulate, were told we were on the wrong side of the road by the RCMP. When we explained that we had been on this side of the road numerous times before over the years, we were informed that did not matter, and the new rule was that everyone had to be across the street (in front of a seniors’ home which no doubt did not appreciate the appearance that its practices were being protested!)

The RCMP, in a fashion that the Chinese back in Beijing must have picked up on quickly, demanded to know the names, addresses, and birth dates of protest organizers. We refused and then asked why, and they said it was for their file. Why, we asked, did they need to create a file on a group of peaceful people, many of them Uyghur refugees, who were simply exercising democratic rights? Was the file to be shared with the Chinese in the hopes of intimidating the Uyghurs who DID have the courage to speak out, or harassing their family members still under Chinese occupation? Would names and other information be shared with the Chinese to be used in their torture chambers just as the RCMP and CSIS did in the cases of Canadians tortured in Syria—Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin?

The June rally, which had come together rather quickly, planned to walk to Queen’s Park, the grounds of the Ontario legislature. This was a Sunday afternoon, so the building and large grounds were empty. Nonetheless, Metro Police told organizers that the gathering could not be permitted and that certainly, no speeches would be allowed, since there had been no permit issued. When we explained we did not require a permit to gather in a public place, we were told to stop being so “mean.” Eventually, the police backed down, though when we did arrive at the empty legislature, they insisted we gather further from the building’s front steps because of the “rules.”

The second demonstration, held in late July, was similar in tone. While we decided to avoid hassles and gather in front of the beleaguered seniors’ home, we were confronted with a rather difficult situation. An ambulance pulled up to go in and get someone, but getting to and from the building was difficult for the ambulance crew, even with our relatively small numbers (about 50 people). So we decided on this Sunday afternoon, when the Chinese consulate was closed anyway, to go across the street and stand on the sidewalk in front of the building that made the most symbolic sense to be protesting.

As we stood where we wished to stand in the first place, the Mounties and Metro police again gave us the third degree lecture about how this was unacceptable. We explained that there was a health and safety issue across the way, and that our presence was a possible impediment to the health care crew. We insisted on staying there until the ambulance had gone. One individual from the China Rights Network complained that he had been on this very spot dozens of times, and wanted to know why things had changed. Rather than receiving an explanation, he was asked for his name and other personal details.

After the ambulance left, and as speeches continued in front of the seniors’ home (a great video overview on the Celil case and the plight of the Uyghurs is available athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLyLUXEqM-U), a number of us decided to try a further discussion with the RCMP. An officer explained that no matter what reason he gave, he would be seen as “wrong” by the protesters, so had decided not to give one. When we pressed, he came up with a story about concerns for our health and safety, because cars go by and might hit someone who steps off the sidewalk. Given that there is a stop sign not 50 feet from where we were standing, we explained that this was a highly unlikely scenario and that, in fact, someone was more at risk on the OTHER side of the street. Needless to say, the concept that a small group of adults carrying placards could not resist darting out into the road spoke to a bizarre RCMP view of protesters as infants who required extraordinary forms of physical protection.

Subsequent gatherings were just as strange. On the opening night of the Olympics, a group of about 50 people again gathered at a downtown intersection before undertaking the 25-minute walk to the Chinese consulate, this time arriving in front of the building. While nervous RCMP looked on, they said it was okay to be there as long as we did not block the entrance. We wondered why they had suddenly changed their policy—was it because they were afraid of analogies being drawn to the protest zones in Beijing? Or were they simply unprepared for our protest which, given the wall to wall Olympics coverage, no doubt got lost in their daily media mix?

Given that we were not harassed during Olympics opening night, we figured that closing night would be just as carefree. Wrong. As a group of about 30 people showed up, quietly standing around, we were immediately accosted by an RCMP agent who told us we were not allowed to be in front of the empty consulate on a Sunday evening at 8:30 pm. When informed that we had been in the exact same spot two weeks earlier with no problems, the agent seemed confused, and returned to the line that such protests were not allowed. When asked for an explanation, she called in backup, who shortly arrived with the same old story. We explained that we would only be here for about 15 minutes, but were informed that after that time, we would be removed to the other side of the street.

What had changed? We asked.

“We have received information,” the agent cryptically replied.

“From the Chinese? About us?” we countered.

“I can’t reveal that information,” was the reply.

Since it was our intention to leave shortly anyhow, we informed the RCMP that we were heading out, but not because we had been ordered to do so. We also commented that just as there is a race to the bottom when it comes to the “globalization” of labour and environmental standards, so there is when it comes to human rights. As corporations complain that strict environmental guidelines make it hard for them to do business in one country while another openly dumps its toxins into the water and air, one can imagine countries like Canada complaining that other countries get to openly repress and torture their protesting citizens, so why can’t we?

It’s a slippery slope, one we continue to glide down at our peril.

Those wishing to help out on the Huseyin Celil case are encouraged to contact the Canadian Committee to Free Huseyin Celil, c/o Wilf Ruland, deerspring@hwcn.org, (905) 648-1296, or Toronto Action for Social Change at (416) 651-5800, tasc@web.ca

In the meantime, please consider sending a short note to Prime Minister Stephen Harper urging that a special envoy be appointed to go to China and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the safe return of Mr. Celil to his family in Burlington, Ontario. Harper’s office can be reached at pm@pm.gc.ca, or (613) 992-4211.

And don’t forget to join the Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture, through Southern Ontario, October 17-23.
You Can’t Get There From Here:
A Comedy of Terrors as Group of Seven Take on Canada’s Torture Taxi in Surreal Journey Through Grounds of Canada’s Largest Airport.
Meanwhile, Skyservice Still Refuses to Meet and Discuss the Worst Kept Secret in Canadian Aviation

(Pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/36969299@N00/sets/72157606717370965/detail/

Drivers trying to use Fasken Drive in Northwest Toronto were in for a surprise on Monday, August 11 when they discovered that a sizable stretch of the road was shut down in both directions by police barricades, complete with lights flashing atop patrol cars and a large “Road Closed” sign.

This was all in honour of a planned vigil by members of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture at the offices of a company called Skyservice. The vigil was called for after the company had ignored six months of correspondence seeking a meeting to discuss our concerns about their possible contracts to deport Canada’s secret trial detainees to torture in Syria, Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco.

Such flights are illegal. Indeed, the Convention Against Torture states unequivocally that “No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”

But such illegality has not prevented the Government of Canada from proceeding with its deportation efforts in these five and, indeed, numerous other cases where there is a risk of torture.

As seven (yes, 7) of us admired the finely choreographed police performance, it was an opportunity to reflect on the day when our journey to Skyservice began. On February 13, 2007, Eugenie Hébert, Manager for Investigations and Removals at Inland Enforcement at the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), testified in Federal Court about arrangements then being made to forcibly remove secret trial detainee Mahmoud Jaballah to Egypt, even though he would likely face a substantial likelihood of torture or worse upon his arrival there.

“We will arrange for a charter to remove the individual, on a commercial flight or a charter,” Ms. Hébert explained under oath. “In the case of Mr. Jaballah it will be a charter. That will have to be done with a private company...For the charter, we have used a company called Skyservice in the past. I have contacted them, and they say between 48 hours and a week they could organize the flight.”

With the news, we sent numerous letters to the company expressing our concerns and requesting a meeting, but all went unanswered. A surprise visit to their Etobicoke offices on May 1 was met by a nervous company representative who claimed we had the wrong company (see a video of that demonstration, led by high school students, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgAFhhPAd7c).

We found that response strange, especially since on June 14, 2007, the Globe and Mail quoted Sandy Buik of Skyservice as saying such deportations are “absolutely the nature of some of the work that we do,” and added that CBSA had engaged their services 8 times since September, 2005.

Generally, the term “absolutely” sounds like the kind of language that inspires a kind of unquestionable certainty, one that can be easily confirmed in a listing of government contracts worth over $10,000 for the CBSA. Indeed, Skyservice has often transported “non-public servants.” If CBSA is composed of public servants, would this refer, then, to refugees who are being deported? Typical 2008 Skyservice contracts have charged the government figures such as $195,415 and $182,453.

It was because of the wall of silence that had greeted our increasingly urgent one-way correspondence that we called for a public vigil.

But then something happened. While calling for the vigil, we also asked people to write letters to the company’s executives urging that they meet with Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture. This seemed to work, since less than 48 hours after our appeal went out, the number of letters flooding Skyservice inboxes seemed sufficient to force their first official response and to change the email addresses of two of their executives (many of our supporters reported that their letters were returned as “failure to deliver.”)

On August 1, we received a phone call from the company’s Vice President of Legal Services and General Counsel, who pleasantly explained that due to a major reorganization of the company, Skyservice was no longer what its website made it out to be. In fact, she said, “Skyservice Airlines” was a wholly separate entity from “Skyservice Investments Inc.” and “Skyservice Business Aviation,” and that it was the last entity (which shares a name, a website, and an email system, with the latter two relationships supposed to wither away eventually) that took on the deportation flights. Why this was not explained to us on our May 1 visit is unclear.

The counsel also wrote us a letter that ended by stating “we trust that you will cancel or relocate the ‘public vigil’ currently intended to be held at our offices at 31 Fasken Drive.”

That same day, a letter also arrived in our PO Box from the privacy officer of Skyservice Business Aviation in Montreal thanking us for our correspondence and asking us to “kindly note that we are a private business aviation entity, bound by confidentiality and privacy obligations, and as such, we cannot legally discuss any matters relating to our clients or our business with them and with third parties.”

While we understand the corporate veil is often employed to avoid public scrutiny of controversial business relationships and practices, we found it a curious argument given that both the client (CBSA) and the company itself have publicly acknowledged the nature of their work, and their contracts are publicly available on Government of Canada websites. Indeed, it must be the worst kept secret in Canadian aviation that this is the go-to company for rendition to torture flights.

While we did not want to protest at the wrong location, we did feel a responsibility to pick up individuals who may have decided to get there on their own steam. But before doing that, five of us set out from downtown Toronto for the offices of Skyservice Business Aviation, located in the heart of the airport grounds.

We decided we would simply walk into the building without signs or placards and request a meeting with Russell Payson, the President of the company. Nervous reception workers sensed something was up when people NOT wearing business suits and carrying fancy leather briefcases entered the elegant “Avitat,” a fancy name for the corporate hub where business travellers using Gulfstream jets await their boarding call. It is a funny looking area where you can see the jets outside the window and there are no long lineups with individuals being checked for what is in their shoes. It looks as if one can simply go out on the runway and board one’s jet. The benefits of wealth....

One tried to imagine what it might be like in this pleasant waiting area should the day eventually come that Canada’s courts order the secret trial detainees deported to torture (an issue that has yet to be decided in the Canadian courts, though the security certificate process that marks the first step of judicially-stamped rendition to torture is slated to begin anew this fall for all five individuals). Would the detainee be offered coffee or tea, or would he be the odd-looking one in the corner with an orange jumpsuit and hood over his head, generating nervous chatter amongst the bankers on their way to an important discussion on raising credit card interest rates?

We were told this fine August 11 that Mr. Payson’s appointments secretary was off until Labour Day (at least the company appears to have a decent vacation policy) and that the Prez himself was in an all-day meeting, but we took a card with the hope that maybe this time we could bag that prized meeting.

We returned to the old Skyservice location on Fasken Drive, only to find the road blockade set up in our honour. Two individuals who had travelled to join our vigil were standing on a curb, having been told they could not sit on the grass because it was “private property.” They had been told that the road would be closed for three hours.

As we picked up our two friends, explaining the corporate confusion over which was the right Skyservice, a man who had been hiding in the bushes suddenly jumped out and started taking our pictures. By the time we figured out what was going on, he jumped back behind the trees. We were disappointed that the undercover photo man disappeared so fast that we did not have time to smile for our file, and were ever so grateful that he ducked out again to take a few more snaps, this time catching our friendly waves and smiles.

We then headed to our final destination, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, described as a “private, not-for-profit corporation responsible for airports in the Greater Toronto area, including operation, construction and maintenance.” As part of their corporate vision, they plan to “develop and adopt a corporate social responsibility program,” so we figured a vigil at their headquarters would be an appropriate close to the day’s journey.

While another undercover officer eventually showed up across the street and hid behind the bushes at the excess snow dumping site, we pulled out our orange jumpsuits and black hoods and banners and set up shop on the lonely sidewalk. Eventually, three of us went inside and asked if we could speak to someone to determine whether the GTAA had any policies with respect to the grounds of the airport being used to commit a criminal offence (complicity in torture via allowing a deportation flight to take off from the grounds).

After explaining our concerns to three separate security managers, we finally spoke to someone in corporate affairs who certainly knew Canadian aviation’s worst kept secret – that indeed, he confirmed, Skyservice Business Aviation does deportation flights.

We asked whether, given the high profile nature of rendition flights, the news that Canada has hosted almost 100 known CIA flights, and that the issue is so well known that even Hollywood stars like Reese Witherspoon are starring in movies about the issue, the GTAA had a policy with respect to them.

The gentleman was honest if nothing else. No.

Had the GTAA discussed the ethics and legalities of the issue? Not to his knowledge.

Was the issue of deportation to torture on their future agenda? Not that he knew of.

In essence, anything goes at Canada’s largest airport if, in his words, it is “safe and legal.”

Given that the Canadian government has a very slippery definition of what is legal (especially when it comes to human rights violations), the statement was a concern, but the GTAA rep did say, however, that he would be interested in receiving material with respect to our concerns ( a far sight better than our response thusfar from Skyservice).

While we prepare materials for the folks at the GTAA, we are now renewing our efforts to meet with Russell Payson, the President of Skyservice Business Aviation (not to be confused with Skyservice Airlines), who seems like an amiable enough gentleman. In a January 17, 2007 Globe and Mail profile, Payson, a pilot and engineer, reveals that he flies well over 100,000 miles a year and that he has a very specific packing routine: “I travel with carry-on only, period. With the time it takes to check in and then pick your bags up off the carousel, you're saving yourself half an hour on each leg, forget the possibility of losing your bags. I went carry-on to Greece a few years ago, and the people at the check-in couldn't believe it.”

Payson also appears to be a pretty button-down kind of guy, explaining his travel philosophy thusly: “I generally stay in three- or four-star hotels. Usually on business you're staying for a night or two, so all you want is a good bed and a TV that works.”

While it is unclear if the secret trial deportees to torture will be fretting about suitcases versus carry-on, we DO know that most Egyptian, Syrian, Algerian, and Moroccan torture chambers do not have good sleeping arrangements, and certainly no TVs.

We would ask that those who support the idea of getting us a meeting with Skyservice Business Aviation contact Mr. Payson and politely ask that he meet with representatives of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture. Perhaps express your concern that Skyservice would consider taking part in a deportation to torture flight. Their office can be reached at (905) 677-3300 or, in Dorval, QC, at (514) 636-3300. Last we checked his email still seems to be russell_payson@skyservice.com

Those concerned about Canadian involvement in torture are welcome to join us on the Fall 2008 Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture, October 17-22, throughout southwestern Ontario. A three-minute promo for that caravan is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yi4Jyjcmfg0

More info: Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture, tasc@web.ca

stop forced return to persecution


See family's trip to Justice Minister's office here
Demonstration at Hungarian consulate: here

Stop The Forced Return of a Protected Person to Persecution and Worse!

Call Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson and Urge that He Stop Extradition of Roma Refugee Adolf Horvath, the Son of a Holocaust Survivor and a Person Found to be in Need of Protection by the Canadian Government

Adolf Horvath is a 51-year old father who fled repeated physical assaults and persecution in Hungary based on his Roma ethnicity. During World War II, his mother had been imprisoned in a Nazi slave labour camp because of her Roma ethnicity. Horvath’s wife, Erika, also experienced physical assaults in Hungary at the hands of the same skinheads and police officials who beat Adolf.

The family came to Canada in 1999. Mr. Horvath was found to be a person in need of protection, and his wife and son were found to be refugees. They were trying to begin a new life in this country when the latest chapter in their nightmare began.

The couple’s young son experienced severe trauma in witnessing the vicious assaults against his parents. He was present in his own home when Adolf was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach and his mother was hit in the head, forcing both parents’ hospitalization. A psychological assessment says their son suffers “emotionally and psychologically from the aftermath of living in an environment of horror and terror.” Given the ongoing fear he experiences that his father may be returned to Hungary, his life is marked by an ongoing sense of terror. Ongoing efforts to treat his post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are threatened by the instability in his life.

All members of the family have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and depression, conditions which have only worsened as a result of the Canadian efforts to send Mr. Horvath back to Hungary. Indeed, when a half dozen Canadian officers showed up at the house to arrest Mr. Horvath on the extradition request, it revived painful memories of attacks against the family in Hungary.

In the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) conducted by the Canadian Border Services Agency, an officer found that Mr. Horvath faces “more than a mere possibility of persecution in Hungary based on his Roma ethnicity.” Much Canadian court jurisprudence related to these issues equates “more than a mere possibility” with “a serious possibility.”

The (PRRA) officer accepts that Horvath “has repeatedly in the past been subjected to various forms of abuse from criminals who included police officers.”

The PRRA officer concludes, “I am of the opinion that the applicant’s unique position as a sophisticated, successful, and prosperous Roma makes him a target for the type of abuse he has described having endured in the past. I am further satisfied that such abuse, in the form of repeated physical assaults, threats, and foul play constitutes persecution. Such persecution is motivated by the applicant’s Roma ethnicity. I have carefully considered the documentary evidence on the availability of state protection for Roma and find that, although state protection is generally available, such availability is sufficiently questionable that a person in the applicant’s unique position might be discriminated against when seeking such protection. Given the applicant’s past experiences with the police and judicial system, I am satisfied that state protection would not be forthcoming to this particular applicant.”

Significantly, the Minister of Immigration did NOT seek to contest this finding. By law, persons in need of protection cannot be returned to the country they fled.

Mr. Horvath’s Canadian lawyers sought to prevent the extradition by launching an abuse of process motion, arguing that there was no legal justification to go through a process that could result in handing Mr. Horvath over to Hungarian authorities when he had already been found by Canada to be a person in need of protection.

The decision made by immigration authorities should have prevented the extradition from going ahead, since a surrender of Mr. Horvath would be an illegal, prohibited act. A lawyer for Immigration Canada actually was invited to the extradition hearing and informed the court that the decision of the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment officer was valid and was not going to be reviewed.

Unfortunately, the extradition judge refused to accept the argument, even though he confessed in the hearing, “Part of my problem is -- I know nothing about immigration whatsoever, and it doesn’t seem to me to be overly relevant in the extradition context.” Indeed, the judge incorrectly came to the conclusion that rather than facing a risk that was “more than a mere possibility,” he wrote that Mr. Horvath only faced a mere possibility of abuse.

The judge also made numerous statements that were insensitive with respect to Mr. Horvath’s Roma heritage, and also criticized the decisions of higher court judges whose decisions were binding on him. Both give rise to a potential apprehension of bias.

As Manitoba Queen’s Bench Justice Steel wrote in a 1999 extradition case, “evidence at an extradition hearing should be accepted even if the judge feels it is manifestly unreliable, incomplete, false, misleading, contradictory of other evidence or the judges feels the witness may have perjured themselves.”

As constitutional law expert Gary Botting points out, “The overall scheme of the legislation is so patently unfair that eventually the Supreme Court of Canada should strike down significant parts of the Extradition Act, especially those parts dealing with evidence, and with the perceived apprehension of bias of the Minister of Justice/Attorney General in being both the prosecutor and the judge at every stage of the procedure.”

While this is an unfortunate Canadian legal reality, it does not make the situation just or right.

In 1998, Mr. Horvath was the subject of a series of trumped-up charges in Hungarian court, charges that now form the basis of the extradition request. The two alleged complainants in the case both testified at an uncompleted trial that they were pressured to provide incriminating statements against Mr. Horvath. The police claimed that Mr. Horvath, after lending money to the complainants, used strong-arm tactics to get the loans paid back. Yet as the Court record from Hungary shows, one complainant testified that if he agreed to incriminate Mr. Horvath, he would be offered a plea bargain on charges he was facing: “I thought it meant that if I testify against him they would set me free because they [police] wanted [Horvath] out of circulation.” He later says that he was told forgery charges against him would be dropped if he chose to testify against Mr. Horvath. Another complainant said there was no threat from Mr. Horvath, and that he did not ever recall telling police that there had been one. He testified: “threats have never been in question.”

The complainant added: “I wish to withdraw my previous testimony that was ‘forced’ out of me,” one of the men stated in court, adding “that in a strange situation, like the one when I was questioned, one would have signed anything....The whole thing which is recorded in my testimony has never happened. In my opinion, it is a fabrication; the whole thing is a ridiculous fabrication...These things have not happened to me.”

When asked why he would make up stories about Mr. Horvath, the complainant replied, “When the policemen examined or questioned me, they told me more than once that I could be in serious trouble if I am not going to assist them.”

Ten years later, the Hungarian judicial system (and, specifically, a judge known widely as a “Roma-hater,”) are seeking the forced return of Horvath to answer the trumped-up charges and, no doubt, face further persecution.

After an oral hearing before a PRRA officer, Mr. Horvath was found to be a person in need of protection based on his credible fears of racist attacks and persecution based on his Roma heritage. Obviously, sending him back to a country he fled will open the door to a serious abuse of his human right to be free of persecution and torture and other forms of cruel and unusual treatment.

The Hungarian police and judicial system are generally recognized as rife with corruption and tainted with the anti-Roma bias that is endemic to Hungary and much of Europe (over 500,000 Roma were murdered by the Nazis, and discrimination and violence against the Roma people is widespread to this day, from unequal access to housing, health, education, employment, and public places (such as restaurants and bars) to lengthy pre-trial detention that does not normally apply to non-Roma).

The U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report on Hungary noted on March 11, 2008, that “Human rights and Romani organizations claimed that Roma received unequal treatment in the judicial process...Reports of police abuse of Roma were common, but many victims remained fearful of seeking legal remedies or of notifying NGOs.
In 2007, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concerns about the prevalence of discriminatory and xenophobic attitudes, in particular towards the Romani population. The Committee noted that Romani children were especially stigmatized, excluded and impoverished in relation to the rest of the population because of their ethnicity. The Committee expressed concern at the arbitrary segregation of Romani children in special institutions or classes.”

Under a section of the U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report entitled “Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,” it notes, “The law prohibits such practices; however, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continued to report that police harassed and used excessive force against suspects, particularly Roma. Reports of police abuse of Roma again increased somewhat during the year, but NGOs considered the increase to reflect increasing willingness of Roma to report such abuses....During the year police were implicated in a number of criminal acts, including corruption, theft, robbery, rape, bribery, and kidnapping, that severely undermined public confidence in law enforcement agencies. The ensuing scandals led to the dismissals, in May, of the HNP [Hungarian National Police] Chief, the chief of the Budapest police, and the head of REBISZ. The minister of justice and law enforcement resigned. In the same month, the head of the National Security Office (NBH) also resigned following scandals involving the intelligence and security services.” The report also notes that racist and anti-Roma postings were made on the website of the Hungarian National Police.

(Adolf Horvath’s former home city is Dunaujvaros. Shortly after Adolf and his family fled to Canada the Head of the Dunaujvaros Police Headquarters anti-crime department was detained (2001) http://www.budapestsun.com/cikk.php?id=15613
-In 2003 April 13 policemen and 12 civilian were arrested for blackmailing in Dunaujvaros. See article in Hungarian http://www.dunaujvaros.com/tallozo/hirek/030410_het.htm
In May, 2007, the country’s justice and police minister resigned after some of the country’s top officers were accused of theft and rape (see http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL20315195.

Eight months after a new justice minister was appointed, he was fired, in part for his failure to protect MPs whose homes were attacked (see http://www.politics.hu/20080222/justice-minister-sacked-for-failing-to-protect-

Such reports are consistent with the October 25, 2007 Amnesty International assessment of anti-Roma discrimination in Europe that concluded “Roma were often the victims of torture or other ill-treatment by law enforcement officers across the region. Roma were also the victims of racist attacks during which they were not adequately protected by the police. The authorities in many countries failed to fulfil their domestic and international obligations towards the Roma community.”

A January 30, 2008 Deutsche Presse-Agentur news story entitled “Neo-Nazism on the rise in eastern Europe” documents the rise of such far-right groups in Hungary, including the emergence of groups dressing much like Hungarian fascists of the 1940s and using coats of arms similar to Nazi-aligned political parties. Such groups have made no secret of their racist attitudes towards the Roma.

In a bizarre move, and without any evidence to show that conditions had changed in Hungary such that Mr. Horvath would no longer be at risk if surrendered, then Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Monte Solberg delivered an opinion to the Justice Minister stating that Horvath could be returned to Hungary because of a perceived improvement in conditions. There was no proof provided, and the opinion was written by someone with no expertise in the area of risk.

This is strange because the PRRA determination essentially becomes the opinion of the Minister. Why would the Minister seek and deliver an opinion that contradicts his first opinion?

The Minister’s new opinion essentially states that since there are human rights groups that stand up for the Roma, someone like Mr. Horvath could seek their assistance. The argument fails though because such groups cannot provide protection from acts of violence committed by skinheads or anti-Roma elements within the police forces.

Sending a person in need of protection to a country where he would face further persecution surely “shocks the conscience” of the Canadian people.

Under the Extradition Act (section 44 (1), the Minister of Justice has the capacity to refuse an extradition if satisfied that, “(a) the surrender would be unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstances; or (b) the request for extradition is made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person by reason of their race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour, political opinion, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability or status or that the person’s position may be prejudiced for any of those reasons.

Mr. Horvath has been targetted by a Hungarian judicial system that international human rights groups, as well as the U.S. State Department, have acknowledged is rife with corruption and bias, in particular towards the Roma people. A significant body of evidence shows Mr. Horvath has been targetted because of his Roma heritage, and that the charges against him are baseless and being pursued by a judge with a known anti-Roma bias.

The effect of threatening to send Mr.. Horvath back to Hungary has been devastating on him and his family; executing that threat would be disastrous for the health of his wife and son.

The ends of justice are in no way served by returning him to Hungary.

After Mr. Horvath was arrested in Toronto on the extradition request in 2003 (yet another traumatizing event for him and his family), he was released on bail with the stipulation that he periodically report to a Toronto detention facility where he would stay for a few days pending the outcome of certain court decisions. On each occasion, his wife drove him to the jail, dropped him off, and he would spent three or four days behind bars until the decision came out.

On March 19, Mr. Horvath -- expecting a decision on whether the Supreme Court of Canada would hear his appeal and correct the many judicial errors that were made in concluding he could be sent back to face persecution in Hungary -- was driven to the jail by his wife. After she dropped him off and he walked to the jail’s entrance, he disappeared, no doubt fearing that a negative court decision would mean his imminent forced removal to persecution and worse in Hungary.

While this places him and his family in a problematic legal position, it is perhaps understandable that he is taking a risk in the hope that he will not be sent back to a country where he is likely to be targetted for further persecution, physical beatings, and lengthy, unjustified imprisonment.

His wife and son are now extremely worried since they do not know where Adolf is. They are appealing to the Minister of Justice to reconsider his decision and put an end to this nightmare, one that can either end happily by allowing the family to get on with their lives, or one that could end quite badly if Mr. Horvath is returned to the country from which the Canadian government has concluded he is a person in need of protection.

When calling, ask to speak to someone about the extradition of Adolf Horvath. Please be polite, express your opposition to the fact that Canada is trying to forcibly remove someone who has been found to be in need of protection to a country where he will face further persecution and worse. And finish by stating that the Extradition Act allows Mr. Nicholson the discretion to deny this trumped up request. Also, see a sample letter below. Let us know at tasc@web.ca what kind of response you get.

Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice
105 East Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6
tel: 613-995-1547
fax: 613-992-7910
email: Nichor@parl.gc.ca, webadmin@justice.gc.ca, Nichor1@parl.gc.ca

If you live in the Niagara region, please call his constituency office as well at 905-353-9590, fax: 905-353-9588

Please cc Prime Minister Stephen Harper (pm@pm.gc.ca, fax: 613-941-6900, and Immigration Minister Diane Finley (Minister@cic.gc.ca, finley.d@parl.gc.ca, fax: (613) 996-9749)

Sample Letter
(If you can, since they do not like form letters, begin by stating who you are and why, as a Canadian, you are concerned about what is going on here -- don’t forget to cc Finley and Harper)

Dear Mr. Nicholson,

I am writing to ask you to stop the extradition to Hungary of Adolf Horvath, the son of a Holocaust survivor and someone your own government found to be a person in need of protection because of his Roma ethnicity. Both he and his family are already saddled with post traumatic stress disorder from the violence they were subject to while in Hungary.

Significantly, the two individuals who are the complainants in the alleged case against Mr. Horvath have recanted their allegations, and the judge who seems to be driving this process is known to be someone with a strong anti-Roma bias.

At a time when neo-fascist, racist forces are unfortunately gaining strength in much of Europe -- in large measure based on targetting of specific groups, especially the Roma -- I am calling on you to stop the forced transfer of Mr. Horvath back to Hungary. It is clear from both the expert opinion of the Canadian government’s pre-removal risk assessment officer as well from the human rights analyses of the targetting of Roma by Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department that Mr. Horvath will face persecution, physical violence, and worse.

This is clearly a case where the extradition of Mr. Horvath would be “unjust or oppressive” because he is being sought for prosecution and punishment “by reason of [his] race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour.”

The ends of justice are not served by this extradition. The original decision finding Mr. Horvath to be a person in need of protection should be the final word in this matter. I call on you to respect that decision, stop the extradition, and allow Mr. Horvath to stay in Canada, a decision which can finally start the healing process for the Horvath family.

Thank you.


(This urgent action originates with Toronto Action for Social Change and Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture. For more information, contact tasc@web.ca, 416-651-5800)

move against torture

Join the Fall 2008 Caravan to End Canadian Involvement in Torture, Southwestern Ontario, October 17-22, 2008

Join a nonviolent community on wheels for part or all of our journey as we travel through dozens of communities in a large triangular area (Toronto to Kitchener-Waterloo to London, then through Tillsonburg, Simcoe and Welland, up through Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Hamilton and Mississauga) October 17-22.

The Caravan intends to expose and challenge the many ways in which the Canadian government is increasingly involved, both directly and indirectly, in policies and practices that result in the torture of human beings. While it is possible that a federal election may be underway during our caravan, we see this as a good opportunity to challenge all parties to commit to ending ALL forms of Canadian complicity in torture.

Additional footage of the spring caravan is available at:

This posting has details on getting involved with the caravan, why it is taking place, a city-by-city schedule, details on providing financial support for the caravan, and a list of demands. If you plan on joining us please let us know as soon as possible for so that we can cover the necessary logistics from this end. Thanks!

“On the moral and legal level torture is democracy’s ultimate antithesis. We simply cannot torture and preserve our democratic values at the same time." -- Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture

"Not our job to show [Afghan] jails free of torture, Ottawa will argue" -- Toronto Star headline, March 6, 2008

"The Canadians apparently never laid a hand on [Omar Khadr] in Gitmo. They didn't have to, knowing that the Americans had first softened him up with weeks of mental torture through sustained sleep deprivation. In this good cop-bad cop routine, the Canadian interrogators were willing partners with the Americans, complicit in the abuse of a prisoner who would likely never be found guilty of anything in Canada." Toronto Star editorial, July 16, 2008

Although Canada has traditionally been no wallflower when it comes to supporting regimes that engage in the most brutal of human rights violations (whether politically or economically), its complicity in the torture of human beings has come into sharper focus in the years following 9/11/2001. The Canadian government is openly flouting its international and domestic legal obligations NEVER to be involved directly or indirectly in acts of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Some of the world's most vulnerable people are being abandoned in the name of "national security."

Canada has consistently been criticized by the likes of the United Nations, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other groups for the government's refusal to respect international laws governing the absolute prohibition on complicity in torture. And yet whenever there are efforts to determine the full extent of Canada's involvement -- with the intent of ending such behaviour -- they are generally shut down or held in secret.

As Manfred Nowak says, torture is democracy's antithesis. Whether it is the federal government's refusal to release documents about the torture of Canadian-captured detainees in Afghanistan; the holding of completely unaccountable secret inquiries into the torture of Canadian citizens; or the use of secret hearings and the lowest available standards of justice to deport people to torture, we see that the government's efforts to protect institutions involved in such heinous practices are actually undermining the principles of openness, fairness, and equality that are supposed to be hallmarks of democracy.

The Caravan To End Canadian Involvement in Torture follows in the path of long-distance journeys throughout history that have played key roles in social justice struggles. In Canada, there have been cross-country caravans in solidarity with First Nations struggles, long-distance walks for refugee rights, freedom rides, the 2006 Freedom Caravan to End Secret Trials, and treks by train, such as the 1930s "On to Ottawa" anti-poverty mobilization. During the spring of 2008, the first Caravan To End Canadian Involvement in Torture took place between Toronto and Ottawa, naming sites along the way that are complicit in torture. Once in Ottawa, those who had been tortured overseas confronted the Ottawa-based institutions responsible for their torture.

Such journeys are both political and spiritual pilgrimages, opportunities to get beyond the world of sound-bite politics and engage in dialogue at a slower pace.

This October will be significant for many reasons, among them:

1. October 17 marks the seventh anniversary of the first full day in solitary confinement for Syrian refugee Hassan Almrei, jailed without charge in Toronto in October, 2001 on secret allegations he has never been allowed to see or contest in a fair and open trial. Hassan would spend the next four years and three months in solitary confinement, an extreme form of cruel and inhumane mistreatment that included two full Canadian winters without heat. Hassan has spent an additional 18 months in the most expensive solitary confinement cell in Canada at the "Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, aka Gitmo North), where he remains to this day. The Canadian government intends to forcibly remove him to Syria, even though Hassan faces a substantial risk of torture if deported there. Hassan is one of five "security certificate" detainees fighting deportation to torture, all of whose secret hearings will recommence in the fall of 2008. The other four -- Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub, Mohamed Harkat and Adil Charkaoui -- are under severe forms of house arrest, imprisoning not only them but also their families. No charges have ever been laid against these individuals, and no proof of wrongdoing has ever been presented in a court of law.

2. October 20 is when a report on the torture of three Canadian citizens is scheduled to be turned into the government by former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci. In a highly dangerous precedent designed to protect the reputation of the torture-complicit Canadian spy agencies, CSIS and the RCMP, the Iacobucci Inquiry was held in complete secrecy, and Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin were prevented from attending a single day of testimony at the inquiry into their overseas arrests, detentions, interrogations, and torture. They were not allowed to see a single document, and the shabby and disrespectful manner in which they were treated constituted a continuation of their torture. There are concerns that this report will attempt to whitewash clear signs of Canadian complicity in their torture.

3. In October, Canadian Omar Khadr, tortured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo Bay, is scheduled to have his sham military tribunal "hearing". International calls for Omar to be repatriated to Canada have been ignored by the Harper government, even as further revelations emerge about the fact that Khadr was "softened up" for CSIS interrogation by three weeks of severe sleep deprivation in the so-called "frequent-flier" torture program.

4. October begins the sixth year of limbo for Canadian Abousfian Abdelrazik of Montreal, forced by CSIS harassment to leave Canada in 2003. Abdelrazik was arrested in Sudan in September, 2003 in a jailing that appears to have been at the request of CSIS, resulting in years of imprisonment and torture. Mr. Abdelrazik is currently in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum, but the Canadian government is refusing to fly him home.

There will be lots to do each day. After breakfast, we will pack and head out to the next town, where we will disembark, pull out banners, placards, and flyers, and blanket the community with information and discussion, whether in town squares or shopping malls, at high schools, in front of MPs' offices. We will then travel to the next town, stop for lunch, and continue throughout the day with rest spots along the way. Following dinner, there will usually be an evening procession or public event. All meals will be provided for during the caravan. We do need to know as far in advance as possible of any special dietary needs/food allergies.

Each night we will sleep in specially arranged billets and/or churches or community halls and will attempt to arrange alternative billeting for anyone with special needs (please let us know about these far in advance!). We will also attempt to accommodate religious needs (such as Halal food, prayer time). We'll attempt to arrange showers where available.

What to Bring:
Sleeping bag, floor mat, pillow, change of clothes, medications, good walking shoes, re-usable water bottle, rain gear, sun glasses, a hat to protect against the sun, pocket money for snacks. Pack for the varying conditions of fall, warm and cold, wet and dry! A sense of humour will help too!

This is very much a project in the spirit of the civil rights movement. We ask those who join us to abide by a spirit of openness to all we meet, nonviolence in word and deed, and respect for each other and our opponents, some of whom we are likely to meet on the way. This is very much a community effort: we all share in the tasks of food preparation, clean-up, taking care of one another, and leaving our host spaces in mint condition!

For those who own vehicles, we hope you can contact us and let us know how many people you can take and how much trunk space you have.

The last town mentioned on each day is where we will spend the night. If you can help with putting people up for the night and possibly provide breakfast that would be great. Also, if you can help organize dinner for the caravan members, that would be great too.

You can join the caravan for a couple of days anywhere along the route. It is up to you. If you plan to join us in Stratford or Niagara Falls, for example, let us know and we'll arrange to meet you at the bus or train station.

The success of the Caravan is largely built on community involvement and support. As such, an extremely important element of the Caravan is billeting accommodations and provision of meals. Perhaps you, or someone you know, is interested in supporting the Caravan by providing a spare bed or couch for Caravan member(s) to sleep on for the night we are in your community. Help with meal preparation for the caravan members would also be appreciated. If you have space and you are willing and able to share, please contact tasc@web.ca or (416) 651-5800 to learn more about becoming a Caravan Billetor!

If you can't join the caravan, please consider making a financial contribution towards our costs. Cheques can be made out to Homes not Bombs (earmarked "caravan") and sent to PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0.

If you'd like to join the Caravan, please contact us as soon as possible with information on how long you can join us, if you have
a vehicle, and if you will be on certain parts of the caravan and/or the whole project.

We can be reached at (416) 651-5800, or tasc@web.ca

More info: Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture (a subsidiary of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada and Homes not Bombs)

(some cities subject to change, so stay in touch if you are joining midway through!)

  • Friday October 17: Brampton, Georgetown, Acton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo
  • Saturday October 18: Stratford, Woodstock, Ingersoll, London
  • Sunday, October 19: Tillsonburg, Delhi, Simcoe, Welland
  • Monday, October 20: Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Dalhousie, Virgil, St. Catharines
  • Tuesday, October 21: Vineland, Beamsville, Grimsby, Stoney Creek, Hamilton
  • Wednesday, October 22: Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga, Toronto CSIS Headquarters
We see this complicity on a number of levels (by no means a complete list):

  • The role of the RCMP and CSIS in sending questions to the Syrian and Egyptian torturers of three Canadian citizens -- Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin -- knowing such actions could result in torture.
  • Ongoing efforts by the federal government to deport the Secret Trial Five (five men subject to secret hearing security certificates) to torture in Egypt, Syria, Algeria, and Morocco.
  • The RCMP's use of “evidence” obtained by the Syrian torture of a Canadian citizen for an Ontario court application.
  • The finding by the Security Intelligence Review Committee that Canada's spy agency, CSIS, "uses information obtained by torture."
  • The role played by CSIS in harassing certain Canadians to the point where they are forced to leave the country and are then jailed, at the request of CSIS, in an overseas country, where they are interrogated and tortured.
  • Efforts to fast-track free trade deals with (and ignoring or downplaying the horrific human rights records of) countries such as Colombia. One section in the proposed Canada-Colombia agreement has been labelled the "kill a union member, pay a fine" clause.
  • The federal government's refusal to speak out against torture and other inhuman abuses at the Guantanamo Bay gulag as well as at assorted "black sites" around the globe to which countless "ghost detainees" have been disappeared.
  • Continued Canadian working relationship (teaching, training) with the U.S.-based “School of the Assassins,” which has trained tens of thousands of military officials who have gone on to commit horrific human rights abuses throughout the hemisphere.
  • Hosting CIA rendition-to-torture flights, allowing Canadian air space and refueling.
  • Transferring detainees in Afghanistan into the hands of forces (U.S., Afghan) known to engage in torture and murder of those in custody.
  • Covering up the Canadian role in the rendition of refugees such as Benamar Benatta, sent to the U.S. on September 12, 2001, who spent the next five years under conditions tantamount to torture. There has yet to be a public review in his case.
  • Deportation of thousands of women, children, and men every year to situations of potentially serious risk, and insisting that “diplomatic assurances” from torturers will be enough for protection.


1. A full public inquiry regarding the role of Canadian officials in the torture of Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin. The secret process undertaken by the Iacobucci commission, which denied access to the men, their lawyers, and the public, was wholly unacceptable and is incapable of producing fully informed conclusions and, just as importantly, holding government agencies and individuals accountable.
2. An immediate and permanent halt to all secret hearing "security certificate" proceedings, an end to all deportations to torture, and the closure of Canada's Guantanamo Bay.
3. Creation of a transparent, independent, human-rights-centred civilian oversight body for all Canadian agencies involved in "national security" activities. Findings of such a body need to be binding, unlike current agencies whose decisions can be rejected or ignored by CSIS and the RCMP.
4. End all cooperation (landing rights, refuelling) with rendition to torture flights, and institution of a full, mandatory inspection regime of all foreign aircraft landing in Canada to ensure this country is not even unwittingly an accessory to kidnapping and forced removal to torture.
5. Canada must immediately condemn the illegal detention and torture centre at Guanatanamo Bay, declare itself in opposition to the U.S.-led program of extraordinary rendition to torture and use of black sites for ghost detainees, and take such necessary steps to remove itself from international relationships (civil, military, and economic) that implicate Canada in torture.
6. Canada must work on the highest priority basis to return Canadians held and tortured overseas, from Bashir Makhtal in Ethiopia and Abousfian Abdelrazik in Sudan to Omar Khadr in Guantanamo Bay and Huseyin Celil in China, among others.
7. A real national dialogue on security, leading to the transfer of billions of dollars currently wasted on corporate welfare (for weaponsmakers and "security" businesses and government agencies) to those whose security remains unprotected, from those who are homeless and underhoused and abused women unable to access protection to those without child care and other social programs that provide true security..

"A time comes when silence is betrayal. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers and sisters." - Martin Luther King, Jr.