6.29.2009

another canadian abandoned by the harper government

Abdihakim Mohamed is a Canadian citizen. He's 25 years old, of Somali heritage, and he's autistic.

He's been stuck in Kenya for more than three years. All Mr. Mohamed needs to return to Canada is a passport, or some similar travel document. Canada won't issue him one, and there's no good reason why.

* * * *

Mohamed is at risk in Kenya, and if he's deported to Somalia, he'll be in grave danger there.

In Kenya, Mohamed faces a life without adequate supervision and care, in a culture where there is said to be a great stigma against people with disabilities. He has been harassed by police, and likely faces more police abuse in the future. If, because he is ethnically Somali, he's deported to Somalia, he faces more danger there.

Somalia is one of the countries for which Canada has issued an official warning: "Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel in Somalia. Canadians in this country should leave. There is no resident Canadian government office in Somalia, and the Government of Canada cannot provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens in distress in Somalia."

All that Mr. Mohamed needs to ensure he will not be sent to Somalia is a one-way travel document or replacement passport.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade allege that Mr. Mohamed is not who he says he is, claiming he is an "impostor" who his mother is trying to "smuggle" into Canada. Apparently there aren't a lot of family photos. But numerous people have filed affidavits attesting to Mr. Mohamed's identity. Mr. Mohamed has offered to submit to DNA testing, but Passport Canada hasn't gone ahead with that.

David Yerzy, a Toronto lawyer who knows Mr. Mohamed and signed an affidavit attached to his recent photo, says, "He had a valid passport, which was seized by the government. All he needs is a passport renewal."

Mohamed has already been arrested twice and poorly treated by Kenyan authorities who, discovering he was Canadian, assumed they would be bribed for his release. This pattern might escalate to further arrests and requests for bribe money. With each passing day, Mr. Mohamed is in danger of arrest, imprisonment, and worse. Why can't he come back to Canada?

For more information on how Mr. Mohamed got to Kenya, and why he doesn't have a Canadian passport with him, you can read an extended backgrounder on this case here, at Toronto Coalition to Stop The War. [This case was recently featured on CBC's The Current. I didn't hear the show; I don't listen to the radio.]

The backgrounder is very interesting. It describes a simple human error in judgement - not even an error, really, just a judgement call that didn't work out - then a maddening, and likely racist, bureaucracy.

Popular pressure helped bring Abousfian Abdelrazik back to Canada. Maybe we can help this man, too. Here's what you can do.

  • Write a short, polite letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon. Cc Prime Minister Stephen Harper and your own MP. As Minister Cannon to stand up for the right of Mr. Abdihakim Mohamed to come home, and to issue him a passport or other appropriate travel document so he can be brought back to Canada.

  • If you prefer, call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Or do both!

    Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs
    613.992.5516
    CannoL@parl.gc.ca

    Stephen Harper
    613.992.4211
    HarpeS@parl.gc.ca

    More information and links to details are here.

    Many thanks to the good folks of Toronto Coalition to Stop the War for calling this campaign. Let's bring this man home.
  • 4 comments:

    Scott M. said...

    I definitely think this one started out as a bureaucratic problem run amok, though the MPs contacted should be stepping in to make sure things are straightened out quickly.

    Why they don't just do a DNA test and get it over with? They couldn't answer that on the piece on "the Current" either... apparently the law allows for it.

    L-girl said...

    I see no reason to attribute this only to bureaucracy. It's bureaucracy with a purpose.

    We've seen enough by now to know who gets help and who doesn't. If this guy had an anglo name and was not Muslim, he'd be home by now.

    Kim_in_TO said...

    I definitely think this one started out as a bureaucratic problem run amok, though the MPs contacted should be stepping in to make sure things are straightened out quickly.

    That's a very kind assessment. While it's nice to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they would do the right thing if they could, Harper and his government have proven time and time again that they do not have any compassion for these cases, nor do they intend to do what they are obliged to do - either by international law or by mandate of the will of the majority of Canadians (otherwise known as democracy).

    In the case of Abdelrazik, the government had many opportunities to bring him back and could have done so very simply; in the end, they had to be forced to by the courts. In the cases of the Iraq war resisters, the government is obliged to allow them to stay by virtue of two majority votes in parliament and Harper's own assertion that the PM has to obey the will of the house, as well as numerous polls of the Canadian public. Harper has had Kenney making feeble excuses - not one of which actually addresses the issue.

    There are reasons why the conservatives are known as anti-immigrant. The examples I cite are only the tip of the iceberg.

    Scott M. said...

    Again, I think this one *started* as a bureaucratic problem. I still believe that.

    To imply that the Government somehow interfered in this particular case doesn't make sense. The person in question isn't considered a person of interest or the like, and there's no reason to believe the Conservative party or their hacks are reviewing every family case that crosses the desk of a consulate or embassy.

    However...

    Now that it's known about, and it's a political issue, I agree with you -- this would have been dealt with quicker by the Conservatives if it was someone who looked and spoke like I did.

    Doesn't change the fact that it started as a bureaucratic fumble though.