(Press Release) New Year, Ongoing Injustice: Montrealers to Rally in Solidarity with the Awan Family and to Denounce the Treatment Leading to the Death of Lucia Vega Jimenez

Where: In front of Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices, 1010 Saint-Antoine West, Bonaventure Metro
When: Friday 31 January 2014, 12pm to 1pm

MONTREAL, January 31, 2013- As a new year begins, Montrealers will be gathering at the Citizenship and Immigration Office to denounce ongoing injustices in the case of Khurshid Begum Awan and to send the family’s wishes to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.

“For the past five months, Khurshid Begum Awan has been confined within the walls of a Montreal church. She continues to breathe injustice with every single moment spent without status and without the freedom to move”, said Farha Najah Hussain of the Awan Family Support Committee.”

In August 2013, Mrs. Awan faced the prospect of losing access to necessary health services, the risk of targeted violence, and the spectre of separation from her daughter and grandson if she were to return to Pakistan. She then courageously chose to defy her deportation.

“Immigration Canada, give me freedom”, declared Mrs. Awan, from sanctuary. ” I want to be free. I live in a constant state of worry”.

While awaiting the regularization of her status, Mrs. Awan’s has missed appointments and delayed important medical follow up. Unable to leave the church, she cannot seek hospital care when facing health emergencies- a reality that has contributed to the significant stress she experiences on a daily basis. Furthermore, she has been forced to forego things that many take for granted- such as purchasing groceries, visiting neighbours, or taking walks for fresh air. This has exacted a tremendous toll and left her life- as well as the lives of her daughter and grandson- on hold.

“I want status for my mom. It’s not good for her health to stay here. She needs medical attention”, her daughter, Tahira Malik, continued.

Supporters are protesting against months of inaction on the part of Minister Chris Alexander. “We waited nearly four months for a response from Minister Alexander, only to see him evade all responsibility”, said Amy Darwish of the Awan Family Support Committee. “Today, we are here to send a clear reminder to adopt a very different kind of new years’ resolution- namely, to use his discretionary powers to grant status to Mrs. Awan. ”

Earlier this week, the enraging news of the treatment and subsequent death of Lucia Vega Jimenez at the hands of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) served as a tragic reminder that profound fear, trauma and stress are the reality for hundreds of thousands of migrants across the country. Reflecting on Jimenez’s death, Tahira Malik, asked, “How many more people are being pressured like us by CBSA, how many have thought of suicide? These people have to stop. They have to treat us like human beings.”

In addition to holding a picket in solidarity with the Awan family in Montreal, Awan Family support committee members humbly offer theirs hearts to those honouring the life of Lucia by protesting CBSA’s violence. A vigil will be held on Friday, January 31st at 5:30p.m. (PST), in front of CBSA offices in Vancouver.


Source: Justice for the Awan Family, soutienfamilleawan.org