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ChCh Midday - Free Ahmed Zaoui: Call to Rally

Christchurch Campaign to Free Ahmed Zaoui: Call to Prayer and Rally

Christchurch supporters of imprisoned Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui will gather outside the Christchurch Cathedral at 12 midday today. The gathering will begin with a Muslim call to prayer followed by an interfaith exchange of prayers. After the prayer service speakers, including Green MP Keith Locke, will address the gathering. The gathering will then proceed to the SIS office where a cage will be erected and a week long vigil by supporters of the plight of Mr Zaoui will commence.

"The leaders of Mr Zaoui's political party (the FIS) which won a landslide victory in Algeria in 1992 has been the subject of an orchestrated campaign of lies to discredit and isolate them by the Algerian regime which came to power via a bloody military coup. A former counter terrorist officer from the Algerian regime has said he was personally involved in a campaign to discredit Mr Zaoui. However, there is no acknowledgement by the SIS of this context," said spokesperson Moana Cole.

"The grounds for Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) issuance of a Security Risk Certificate against Mr Zaoui, a summary of which was released to his lawyers, was thoroughly addressed by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority. Thus, the grounds for that Certificate must be re-examined".

Those concerned about the plight of those caught in the cross-fire of the war on terror, such as Mr Zaoui, are engaging in a week of action demanding the release, a fair hearing and re-examination of the Security Risk Certificate. The week will include public education, street theatre, prayer and action.

"Mr Zaoui's treatment by the New Zealand government represents all those things that are shameful about the war against terror. These include an intelligence service desperate to justify its increasing budget, a government desperate not to jeopardize its economic and political interests regardless of any human rights implications and the continued confinement of a genuine refugee whose evidence, the Refugee Status Appeals Authority declared, was corroborated at every material point".

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