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NZ Action To Support Abdelkader Belaouni

New Zealand Action To Support Abdelkader (Kader) Belaouni

18 JANUARY 2008

A group of New Zealanders have put their names to a letter of concern to the Canadian High Commissioner in Wellington calling for the Canadian Government to grant permanent residence to Abdelkader (Kader) Belaouni. This activity was part of an international day of action in support of Kader.

Kader has been taking refuge in St-Gabriel's church, Montreal, for over two years after arriving in Canada in March 2003 after fleeing the civil war in Algeria and then the post 9/11 anti-Arab backlash in the US. The Canadian Government has refused residency to Kader and is now trying to deport him.

The letter, signed by National Distribution Union President, Robert Reid was supported by Green M.P. Keith Locke, Christian World Service and 22 other concerned NZ citizens. It was delivered to the Canadian High Commission on Friday 18 January 2008 by Robert Reid and union colleague Huia Welton (see attached photo).

Neither the High Commissioner or First Secretary was available to receive the letter but have agreed to meet with NZ supporters of Kader at the earliest opportunity.

More information is available at: http://www.soutienpourkader.net/

The letter reads:

18 January 2008

H.E. Dr Penny Reedie

High Commissioner

Canadian High Commission

Level 11, 125 The Terrace

PO Box 8047

WELLINGTON

Dear Dr Reedie

We are writing to ask you to urge your Government to grant permanent residency to Abdelkader (Kader) Belaouni on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

We have read the enclosed backgrounder regarding Kader and are appalled at the treatment that he has received to date.

Although Kader's situation is different to that of Ahmed Zaoui in New Zealand, both cases highlight the way that innocent individuals have been trapped in international power plays following the declaration of the "war on terror". The case of Ahmed Zaoui in New Zealand showed that security and risk assessments can be quite wrong or out of date and at complete odds to the obvious humanitarian solution. It seems Kader's case shows that the same situation exists in Canada.

We understand that Abdelkader (Kader) Belaouni has:

· been in Canada since March 2003 following his fleeing from the civil war in Algeria to the US and then from the racist backlash in the US post the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001

· been under a deportation order in Canada since 5 January 2006

· been in sanctuary, unable to leave the confines of St-Gabriel's church, Montreal, for over two years

a.. massive community and civil society support to enable him to stay in Canada. Not only have hundreds of individuals spoken out in support of Kader, as well as members of Parliament from all political parties, but representatives of approximately 250 civil society organisations have endorsed his demands. Some of the supporting organisations are Amnesty International, Canadian Arab Federation, Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec (COPHAN), La ligue de droits et libertés, Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes and the United Church of Canada · put down roots in Montreal and considers this his home. Kader has close relationships with friends and neighbours in his neighbourhood of Pointe-St-Charles as well as a network throughout the city which has shown itself more than willing and able to assure he receives support when he needs it. Kader has successfully integrated and has made a meaningful contribution to society through his volunteer work. He hosts a monthly radio show, Radio Sanctuary: The hour of power, which gives voice to many members of his neighbourhood

· a fear of returning to Algeria. Kader faces total uncertainty if deported. He would first be sent to the U.S., where he faces a high probability of being detained until his deportation order is enforced and he is sent back to Algeria, a country he fled more than ten years ago, which is far from stable and peaceful

· been subjected to repeated discriminatory treatment in Canada because the Government has failed to take his blindness into account in his applications to remain in Canada. His disability would make it even more difficult for him to adjust to life in Algeria after over 10 years away. It also exponentially increases the level of uncertainty and insecurity he faces if deported. Since the level of formal support for blind people in Algeria does not compare to that available in Montreal, Kader's autonomy and dignity would suffer.

Thank you for receiving our letter today.

We look forward to hearing back from you as to what steps the Canadian Government has taken to resolve the situation of Abdelkader Belaouni by the granting of permanent residence status.

Yours faithfully

(signed)

Robert Reid, President, National Distribution Union

Supported by:

Keith Locke, Green Party Member of Parliament

Christian World Service

Ray Goldstein, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington

Rev Dr James Stuart, Wainoni Methodist Church, Christchurch

Rev Don Borrie, Titahi Bay, Porirua City

Gillian Southey, CWS, Christchurch

Huia Welton, Union Organiser, Wellington

Graham Elliott, Railway Worker, Wellington

Sam Huggard, Union Communications Officer, Wellington

Andrew Campbell, Union Campaigns Director, Wellington

Catherine Bindon, Wellington

Felice Marshall, Wellington

Duncan Allan, Organiser, Unite Union, Wellington

Jocelyn Brooks, Wellington

Hannah Scott, Executive Assistant, Green Party, Wellington

Dave Kent, Graphic Designer, Wellington

Tessa Castree, Social Worker, Wellington

Bill Rosenberg, Christchurch

Maxine Gay, Retail Secretary, National Distribution Union, Wellington

Prue Hyman, Paekakariki

Fleur Fitzsimons, Legal Officer, Wellington

Paul Maunder, Cultural Worker, Blackball, West Coast

Caroline Hatt, Midwife, Blackball, West Coast

Robert Reid President National Distribution Union P.O. Box 6040 2nd Floor, 220 Willis Street Wellington

ENDS


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