Saturday, July 28, 2007

Paralysed man retreats to temple to avoid deportation
Chantal Eustace, Vancouver Sun
Published: Sunday, July 08, 2007

VANCOUVER — Laibar Singh’s eyes flickered and watered as
supporters circled his wheelchair outside the Abbotsford, B.C.
temple where the paralysed refugee claimant fled this weekend.

Singh, who entered the country with a fake passport four years
ago, was scheduled to be deported Sunday afternoon. Instead,
the 48-year-old father of four decided to risk his life for a chance
to stay in Canada.

With the help of friends, he was wheeled out of an acute care
facility in Vancouver and into a taxi Friday afternoon.

The group then visited numerous temples in the Lower Mainland
before ending up at the Gurdwara Kalgidhar Darbar Sahib Society
— the temple in Abbotsford that Singh calls his sanctuary.

Singh, who became paralysed last year after he suffered an
aneurysm, requires regular medical attention — including dialysis
— and he cannot feed himself.

Singh said he feels optimistic the government will grant him
refugee status on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Harsha Walia, a spokeswoman for the refugee rights group,
No One is Illegal, said she worried about Singh’s health now
that he is out of hospital.

“He needs imminent medical care within the next 24 hours,”
Walia said.

Walia said Singh, who is not expected to recover from his
condition, faced difficult options — deportation or sanctuary in
a temple — neither of which satisfied his urgent health needs.

As long as Singh is inside the temple, he won’t be removed by
officials, said Faith St. John, a spokeswoman for the Canadian
Border Services Agency.

“Even though there’s no legal impediment to us removing
someone from a place of worship, we will not go into a place of
worship to remove them,” St. John said, adding the government
does not condone this sort of behaviour.

“If they are ordered to depart Canada, they are expected to
depart Canada.”