Friday, February 2, 2007

Protesters push for action on immigration issues

Protesters push for action on immigration issues

Friday, January 19 2007 | Chronicle Herald

A group of about a dozen protesters stormed the Halifax office of Citizenship and Immigration Canada on Thursday with a list of demands for the federal government.

The protesters, who are part of a local group called No One Is Illegal, are looking for an immediate closure of the immigration holding centre in Kingston, Ont., a unilateral condemnation of the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba and the abolition of secret trials and security certificates.

The group is also pushing for the release of the so-called Secret Trial Five, a group of five Muslim men detained by the Canadian government, without charges or convictions, for a collective total of more than 250 days.

Dave Ron, spokesman for the group, said these men are faced with three outcomes: deportation to torture, indefinite detention or release with controlled orders, such as house arrest or increased surveillance.

"All of these options are unconstitutional," Mr. Ron said Thursday on the sidewalk outside the Brunswick Street office.

"They actually contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Furthermore, they violate most principles of fundamental justice."

Behind him, several of the protesters, mostly young people, handed out pamphlets explaining their concerns. Others shouted out slogans in the chilly air.

"No one, no one is illegal," they chanted loudly, banging in unison on plastic buckets.

The group started off inside the immigration office, demanding to speak with Ron Heisler, Nova Scotia's director of operations for Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Mr. Ron said Mr. Heisler refused to speak with the group's members, who were quickly ushered outside. But later on Mr. Heisler apparently told the protesters he would pass along their message.

Two police officers monitored the hour-long demonstration. There were no