Sanctions-busting telethon supporters risked jail for Abdelrazik
Viewers tuning in to Wednesday evening’s rabble.ca videocast from Montreal could be forgiven for thinking they had stumbled across a surreal version of the infamous PBS fund drives that annually dominate American airwaves.
Indeed, the perky pitches from energetic hosts, a phone bank of pledge takers, and a large map of Canada with pins marking the city of each donation would have seemed familiar to anyone who enjoys public television or radio.
But that is where the similarities ended. Those calling in to take part in a “sanctions-busting telethon” in support of Montreal’s Abousfian Abdelrazik were informed that, by donating, they could risk prosecution under Canadian law. Remarkably, over 100 people who did get through understood the caution, pledged thousands of dollars, and consented to having their names listed in a public act of defiance.
The telethon was part of a six-month campaign to remove Abdelrazik from the United Nations 1267 list, which imposes a travel ban and asset freeze on anyone unlucky enough to be named. Individuals can be placed on the list without notice or access to the “case” against them, and with no right to a hearing or an appeal.
Abdelrazik was placed there during a six-year ordeal of detention and torture in Sudan, one in which the Canadian government was found complicit by the federal court in 2009.
After repeated attempts to return home were foiled by the federal government, Abdelrazik entered the Canadian embassy in Khartoum in April 2008, and endured a 14-month exile there until hundreds of Canadians under the banner of “Project Flyhome” purchased an airline ticket for him, risking prosecution under Canada’s United Nations Al Qaeda and Taliban Regulations (which stipulate that no Canadian shall “provide or collect by any means, directly or indirectly, funds with the intention that the funds be used” by a listed person).
Ottawa’s refusal to issue a subsequent travel document triggered a federal court case that eventually resulted in an order compelling the government to bring Abdelrazik home. That decision also condemned the 1267 listing as “a denial of basic legal remedies and as untenable under the principles of international human rights. There is nothing in the listing or de-listing procedure that recognizes the principles of natural justice or that provides for basic procedural fairness.”
Tags: Abousfian Abdelrazik
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