The Tipping Point is a new column which focuses on a particular political campaign happening within Canada in hopes of inspiring support, giving it the momentum to become a tangible win.
It was easy to choose the campaign for the first installment of the Tipping Point: the coming week will be a big one for Project Fly Home. If significant support is gathered, it could result in swift and immediate gains for Absoufian Abdelrazik. Abdelrazik and the dedicated volunteers of Project Fly Home have been fighting to remove his name from the the United Nations 1267 terrorism blacklist.
On Sunday, I spoke with Mary Foster, an organizer with Project Fly Home who has been involved in numerous campaigns fighting for basic freedoms such as the The People's Commission for National Security and The Coalition Justice Adil Charkaoui. We chatted about the current overall strategy for Project Fly Home while rain poured down steadily in Montreal.
The immediate goal of the campaign is to get Abdelrazik off the United Nations 1267 list, Foster explained. She sees the the greater goal of the campaign as bringing a stop to the use of blacklists and the practice of blacklisting people based on political affiliation.
Being on the blacklist has been a nightmare for Absoufian Abdelrazik and his children. Being on this list of people supposedly associated with "Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden, and the Taliban" means that Absoufian is under a complete international travel ban and asset freeze. He is not allowed to legally work or receive social asssistance. Just over a week ago, the Quebec government decided to block giving child-benefit payments to the Abdelrazik family, citing the need to be consistent with security practices. These are benefits that every other parent in the country receives and is entitled to. The Quebec government's disturbing action is in direct violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Project Fly Home's goal was previously to force the government to allow Abdelrazik to return to Canada from Sudan and reunite him with his family, after six years of torture and national security limbo. Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) agents interrogated Abdelrazik while he was held and tortured by the Sudanese government.
No charges have ever been laid against Abdelrazik, and all investigations have been dropped.
The campaign was victorious, and Absoufian was returned in June 2009. As he had been placed on the infamous UN 1267 list in 2006 and this being the reason why he had been blocked from returning home, the campaign then switched to the present goal of removing his name. Effectively, the list is a way for United Nations Security Council members to suppress an individual's basic rights while not allowing due process for the person accused of being a "threat to national/international security". The nationwide campaign to delist Absoufian has been building over the last 24 months, with the next big push set to happen on Thursday June 16th, when a coalition delegation made up of union, community, faith based and solidarity organizers will be in New York at the United Nations to press Peter Wittig, the Chair of the 1267 Committee, German Ambassador to the UN on delisting.
Project Fly Home has issued a call for solidarity with the caravan heading to New York, asking people and organisations to endorse the letter of support for Absoufian which will be handed to Peter Wittig, and for people to contact their MP's and get them to endorse the statement of support. The call for civil disobedience continues to be the backbone action asked to support the campaign. One can answer this call by donating money to Abousfian Abdelrazik, a way of rejecting the legitimacy of the 1267 list and providing much needed financial support.
Project Fly Home has focused their energy on public outreach and networking to build momentum around the case with the belief that all tactics that mobilise people into putting pressure on the Canadian State to do what it can to get the United Nations lift the sanctions and delist Absoufian, fits into the overall strategy of the campaign.
The campaign is at a critical time right now as the American government has recently decided they are trying to make peace with the Taliban, making it so the whole pretext for the 1267 list, the idea of the UN ‘controlling terrorism’ untenable. As Mary put it, “we can see that yesterday the Taliban were the terrorists and now the US and the UN Security Council have transformed them into the new allies. This role changes depending on what is in their interest. So it makes it much easier for folks to see the reality of what the 1267 list is all about, which is having means to control whoever they see as opponents rather than genuine attempts to ensure security for people."
Blacklists are increasingly being used to quell dissent across Canada. A few individuals have recently launched a court injunction against the Boat to Gaza arguing that Hamas will be the recipient of this project. As Hamas is on Canada’s terorrist blacklist, they argue, the boat shouldn't be allowed to move forward. There are many examples of people associated with individuals labelled terrorists are being blocked from international travel and have been placed on "watch lists". Association alone is now enough to put you on a list.
The case of Absoufian Adelrazik is an extreme example, and shows the use and expansion of state control. Overall, there is a need for more pressure in the face of the Canadian governments ongoing disregard for Adelrazik's basic freedoms.
The campaign to delist Absoufian is positioned within a broader social movement. It is a campaign against racism and racial profiling while at the same time a campaign to defend basic freedoms and fight political repression. Project Fly Home is a campaign that is attempting to wake people up and try to get through the inertia that the government is actively expanding their draconian powers. All of our movements suffer when our ability to political dissent is criminalized.
More information on how you can donate funds and/or endorse and send letters of support at Project Fly Home