Frederictonians gathered at Fredericton City Hall on June 26th, 2012 to mark the 12th anniversary that Mohammad Mahjoub has been detained without charge.
People across Canada are demanding Mohammad Mahjoub’s immediate liberation and that of two other Muslim men held on security certificates–Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohamed Harkat. Frederictonians joined with others in Toronto and Montreal on June 26th, the International Day Against Torture, to not only condemn security certificates but to also demand an apology and citizenship for all who have been detained under security certificates.
“I used to ask the Government of Canada to charge me or release me. But now I have a very simple demand to Jason Kenney and Vic Toews: Immediately withdraw the case against me; apologize to me and my family here and in Egypt; and clear my name!” insisted Mr. Mahjoub who walked at the front of the demonstration in Toronto flanked by supporters chanting “End Security Certificates” and “Justice for Immigrants, Freedom for Refugees”.
Mahjoub, a torture survivor, fled political persecution in Mubarak’s Egypt and was accepted as a refugee in Canada. He has been held under a security certificate since 2000. After the process for reviewing security certificates was declared unconstitutional in 2007 due to the secrecy of evidence and the resulting flagrant violations of Charter rights,Mr. Mahjoub was issued another certificate under a virtually identical “new” law and had to begin his struggle for justice from scratch.
Mahjoub held the lead banner at the march in Toronto organized on the 12th anniversary of his arrest and the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, starting at CSIS offices on Front Street, and continued to the Department of Justice and the Federal Court House – three parts of the state embroiled in this fiasco. As the march moved through Toronto’s financial district, supporters of Mr. Mahjoub highlighted the racist, Islamophobic basis of Canadian national security which locks up people like Mahjoub but allows Bay street bankers and financiers to run free. The Dignity Festival in Montreal was organized to disrupt Montreal’s “festival season” with the disturbing reality of racist oppression in Canada. Many who stopped to listen to the play thanked the organizers, explaining that they and their families were facing similar situations: threat of deportation, arbitrary listings and guilt by association.
Security certificates, which can only be issued against non-citizens, allow the government to hold detainees based on their profile (potential danger) rather than on charges, without a presumption of innocence, and without presenting any evidence to the detainee or their lawyer. Hearsay is admissible while information obtained through torture and summaries of evidence that has been destroyed have been illegally used in these cases. The standard of proof is far lower than in criminal proceedings. This process has resulted in indefinite detention under the threat of deportation.