100 Days of Sanctuary Too Many!
Mrs. Khurshid Begum Awan and Tahira Malik demand justice
Montreal, 28 November 2013 – Today marks the one-hundredth day of sanctuary for Mrs. Khurshid Begum Awan, a Pakistani refugee who courageously decided to defy a deportation order issued to her on August 21st 2013. Since then, she has been forced to live in a church in Montreal until her status is regularized. This has not only caused inordinate daily stress for her, her daughter Tahira, and her grandson Ali, but has forced her to miss medical appointments, and endure intimidation by Canada Borders Service Agents (CBSA). If deported to Pakistan, Mrs. Awan risks facing multiple forms of violence, including murder by members of the violent anti-Shia group, Sipah-e-Sahaba.
“I want justice for myself and my family. I am hopeful that Immigration Canada will give me status and will bring back my husband. I have a heart condition and need access to health care. I request to be able to live in dignity,” powerfully stated Khurshid Begum Awan in her native tongue of Punjabi from sanctuary.
“About two weeks ago, over a thousand feminists gathered at the États généraux de l’action et de l’analyse féministes. Several propositions highlighting struggles against patriarchal violence were adopted. One of these propositions invited the feminist movement to fight against immigration policies that create oppression and inequalities for migrant women. In light of this rallying cry for justice, the FFQ declares today its solidarity with Mrs. Khurshid Begum Awan who is resisting the threat of deportation and a life of precarity being without status leading to state, interpersonal and economic violence,” declared Alexa Conradi, President of the Fédération des Femmes du Québec, and member of the Orientation Committeeof the États généraux.
“The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) Chris Alexander has demonstrated blatant disregard for a hundred days. As we support her in her struggle, we have grown to love Khurshid. Like other community members, we refuse to watch her being jailed and criminalised for having migrated here. The Minister is inciting violence in this person’s life by failing to use his discretionary power to grant her status. This is unacceptable.” stated Leah Freedman, a member of the Awan Family Support Committee protesting in front of the CIC building in Montreal.
“I demand justice from the Canadian government. Bring back my father. I demand that my mother be able return to our house. She needs medical attention, she has a heart condition. I will not budge from these demands until they are met,” stated Tahira Malik marking 100 days of her mother being confined within church walls.
Media Contact: Leah Freedman: 514-679-3339
Source: Justice for the Awan Family, soutienfamilleawan.org
Audio: http://ckut.ca/c/en/oldgrid/friday,17:00 starting at 4:00
*(24h Montréal) “Manifestation de soutien à une Pakistanaise menacée d’expulsion”: http://24hmontreal.canoe.ca/24hmontreal/actualites/archives/2013/11/20131128-163421.html
*(CJAD) “Demo demands halt to Pakistani grandmother’s deportation”: http://www.cjad.com/cjad-news/2013/11/28/demo-demands-halt-to-pakistani-grandmothers-deportation