Canadian national, Maher Arar was cleared of any terrorism charges after being held incommunicado by US officials and then flown in a private jet to
Syria and induring 10 months of imprisonment and torture in a Syrian prison. Canadian courts and the government have judged that Arar was innocent and
no threat totheir national security; still US authorities have refused to remove his name from their terrorist watch list,so he was unable to receive
the human rights award from The Institute for Policy Studies, a human rights organization.
Arar and his American lawyer, Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, were to have been in Washington on Wednesday to
receive human rights award from the rights advocates Institute for Policy Studies. Ratner was accepting the award for the center, a longtime
campaigner against torture and other abuses.
Ratner came from his New York headquarters. Arar had to participate by telephone from Canada at a discussion of his case and of the U.S. law signed
Tuesday by President George W. Bush on treatment and prosecution of detainees. At the evening program for presentation of the awards, he was
delivering a videotaped message of thanks in which he was describing his ordeal, which began on Sept. 26, 2002, at New York's John F. Kennedy
International Airport and ended with his arrival in Canada in early October 2003.
He thanked the institute for the award. "It mans that there are still Americans out there who value our struggle for justice," he said.
"We now know that my story is not a unique one. Over the past two years we have heard from many other people who were, who have been kidnapped,
unlawfully detained, tortured and eventually released without being charged with any crime in any country."
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
Even though Arar is and was a Canadian citizen he was detained initially by INS and deported to Syria because "that was where he was born." He told
INS officials that he would be tortured if sent to Syria but INS claimed that they (INS) were not the signers of the Geneva Convention that forbid
torture. This man did not recieve proper treatment fromthe outset and now the Justice Department is refusing to clear his name.
This, to me, implicates the country in human rights violations that they have so blasted other countries for. If this could happen to Maher Arar, a
Canadian of foreign birth, and if it has happened to others (which it most certainly has), how can we be sure it will not continue to happen;maybe to
me, or to you?
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