Below is a press release from No one is Illegal Vancouver, criticizing the proposed security measures in Canada's public transit system made by the Minister of Transportation, Jean Lapierre recently. It confirms the fears of diasporic Muslim and racialized communities living in the west, that governments will exploit "the need" for heightened security after the London bombings in order to persecute racialized immigrant, refugee, and non-status populations. Western governments want docile immigrant populations; making them subject to arbitrary search and arrest practices, racial profiling, and forcing them to live in a climate of insecurity by criminalizing them is one way to produce this docility. Which is not to say that the Canadian public's fear of terrorist attack is unjustified, even if it is highly exaggerated, and mobilized by governments in insidious ways (and this fear is widespread: the CBC reports that 72% of respondents in a recent poll would support security camera surveillance in subways). It is, however, to say that it is misdirected -- and precisely in choosing, as its target, immigrants, refugees, and non-status people, it becomes xenophobic. Canadians should be worried: about their civil rights, about their complicity in the occupation of Iraq (26,705 Iraqi civilians killed to date, with Canadian bullets), about a government that is trying to divide and conquer its people, by making the safety of some contingent on the insecurity of others.

[No one is Illegal, Vancouver]

Vancouver August 9, 2005- Immigrant and refugee communities represented in No One is Illegal Vancouver  are outraged at the security meetings conducted by Federal Transportation Minister Jean Lapierre to discuss security in Canada’s public transit system in the wake of the London bombings.

Upgraded security measures in the post 9/11 climate have led to an increase of racial profiling and invasion of privacy rights. Within weeks of 9/11, Canada has implemented a wide array of laws and practices in the areas of criminal law, immigration law, tax law, employment, intelligence services, and airport security. Further Orwellian measures, such as the increased use of cameras in subway and trains proposed by LaPierre,  will have a devastating effect on the right to privacy in public spaces and despite government assurances, will have a disproportionate impact on racialized communities.

“We are increasingly moving towards a paranoid police state as Canada is moving towards harmonizing security policies with the United States,” states Amal Rana, member of the immigrant and refugee rights group No One is Illegal.

In the United States, two elected officials Dov Hikind and James Oddo, have publicly stated that Middle Easterners should be targeted for searches on city subways as they fit the “terrorist profile.” Hikind further stated, “They all look a certain way and …[they are] a group of people who want to kill us and destroy our way of life.”

According to a January 2004 handout, the Department of Homeland Security advises U.S. border authorities to look out for certain "suicide bomber indicators." They include a "A short haircut or recently shaved beard or moustache may be evident by differences in skin complexion on the head or face. May smell of herbal or flower water (most likely flower water), as they may have sprayed perfume on themselves, their clothing, and weapons to prepare for Paradise."

The American Civil Liberties Union- New York Chapter filed a lawsuit on August 4, 2005 in response to the New York Police Department's unprecedented policy of subjecting millions of New Yorkers to suspicionless searches in subways. Since the police adopted this policy just days after the London bombings, officers have searched the purses, handbags, briefcases and backpacks of thousands of people, all without any suspicion of wrongdoing.

Harsha Walia, member of No One is Illegal, further states, “Like many human rights organizations throughout the world, we are deeply concerned about the erosion of rights since September 11, 2001. The recent push for transit security by Jean Lapierre , along with all the other so-called security measures such as Canada’s Anti-terrorism legislation and harmonization of border policies, have a fundamentally adverse impact on civil liberties, human rights, refugee rights, and political dissent.”


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