Mr. Mohamed Khalil Awan and Mrs. Khurshid Begum Awan arrived in Montreal in 2011 from Lahore, where they were targeted by extremist and criminal gangs related to the Sipah E Sahaba, an anti-Shia group banned in Pakistan. Their daughter, Tahira Malik, came and successfully obtained refugee status in 2000, when at the age of 17, she was forced to leave her parents and 1 year old son in order to escape a violent marriage. Her ex-husband, linked to Sipah E Sahaba members, continued to terrorize and beat up her parents for money.
During their refugee hearing, Mrs. Awan was not allowed to testify because of a panic attack, despite her insistence and wishes to do so.
In December 2012 Mr. and Mrs. Awan’s refugee claim was rejected. In April 2013, Mr. Awan was ordered deported. He now lives in hiding outside Lahore, having already survived an armed attack since his return.
Mrs. Awan was ordered to be deported shortly after. Federal Court Judge Simon Noël refused to grant her a stay of removal, despite letters from three general physicians, one emergency physician and one cardiologist clearly stating that she should not travel to Pakistan in her current health condition. Even after she suffered a heart attack in the Montreal CBSA office on July 4th, border and immigration officials refused to budge from the position that she was ‘stable’ and ‘fit for removal’.
CBSA agents sparked public outcry by entering a hospital emergency room, less than three weeks later, in an attempt to arrest Mrs. Awan, declaring to her that she was to be detained upon release and deported the next day. She was being treated after collapsing in the CBSA offices and being rushed to hospital. Agents only agreed to leave when top hospital staff insisted that according to Canada’s own guidelines, she was not to fly for at least six weeks due to her recent heart attack.
Mrs. Awan was called into Immigration offices on August 20th. Despite another letter from her doctor as well as a cardiologist, stating that she should not fly before having received adequate treatment, she was given a removal date for the following evening (August 21, 2013).
Subsequent to the federal court refusing to hear her request for an appeal of the deportation order, and with all legal channels exhausted, Khurshid Begum Awan decided not to present herself for removal and instead accepted the protection of an Anglican church, where she has been living since.
Her heart failure has gotten significantly worse since July 2013, as attested to by her treating doctor at the Montreal General Hospital in September.