Mohamed Harkat barred from attending dinner in his honour

 Montreal, 3 February 2011 – A community dinner in Montreal in support of Mohamed Harkat – engaged in eight-year battle against deportation to torture on the basis of secret suspicions – will have to go ahead without the guest of honour. Mohamed Harkat learned late last week that the Canadian Border Services Agency refused his request to attend the dinner, organized as the closing event of a Montreal conference on national security.   
                                                                                                                                                                 
CBSA, which is in charge of enforcing the strict bail conditions imposed on Mr. Harkat, stated that Mr. Harkat could not attend because of  “the nature of the proposed event, its anticipated participants, as well as its venue”. 
                                                                                                                                                                                              
The event is a free vegetarian dinner and will take place at a Montreal university.
 
The agency referred specifically to Mr. Harkat’s condition of non-association with “any person who poses a threat to national security.”
                                                                                                                       
Whose Security? Our Security! is a weekend-long gathering focusing on both the historic and contemporary role “national security” plays in domestic repression. It will feature interactive events such as a virtual “walking tour” of Montreal’s “militaro-security-industrial complex” and first-hand testimonies about the manner in which agencies such as CBSA and CSIS have targeted and harassed certain members of our communities which results in a detriment for all.

 

“CBSA does not name anyone … and therefore smears everyone at the gathering as a potential national security threat. Is it a threat to discuss the meaning of “national security” and how it is applied? To plan to resist repressive national security measures such as security certificates and blacklists? Or is CBSA referring to speakers at the conference who have been labeled “threats” in the past, but have since been cleared – would that then mean, in their view, you can never be cleared from these sorts allegations?

“The way in which national security can be used as a blanket justification for such abusive, arbitrary decisions is exactly why it is necessary to hold this important forum,” stated the People’s Commission Network, which is organizing the Whose Security? Our Security! conference.

Among the panel discussions will be an exploration of the communal and political impacts when groups such as the FARC, PKK, LTTE and Babar Khalsa are “black-listed”. The forum will consist of both educational panels and working sessions to coordinate campaigns and struggles of different communities and their allies.

Among the gathering’s high-profile invitees are former security certificate detainee Hassan Almrei, Abousfian Abdelrazik, Sophie Lamarche Harkat, Kanehsatake activist Ellen Gabriel, author and activist academic Gary Kinsman, historian Ian Mckay, and Dominique Peschard, President, Ligue des droits et libertés.

 -30-

 February 4-6, 2011, Concordia University, Hall Building, Montreal

Podcast (French, English and Spanish): www.peoplescommission.org/en/forum/audio.php
 
 For more information or to schedule interviews, contact:

(438) 838-8498 or educationpopulaire@peoplescommission.org

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Filed under Canadian Politics, Climate Change, Community Rights, Human Rights, Media Coverage, Political Accountability, Security Issues

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