1000 protesters block deportation at YVR
More than a thousand protesters crowded at the Vancouver International Airport on Monday morning, to block the deportation of Laibar Singh, a paraplegic refugee claimant.
Members of the crowd, mostly Indo-Canadians, climbed on the hood of the taxi and chanted in support of Laibar Singh for four hours until his vehicle pulled away from the terminal just before 3 p.m.
Mr. Singh was ordered deported to India last week after his refugee claim was denied, and was set to board a 2:30 p.m. Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. He was taken to Surrey Memorial Hospital on Sunday night, protesters said, because his health was deteriorating.
"For safety and security reasons, it has been delayed," said Derek Mellon, spokesman for CBSA. He said he wasn't able to discuss any further details, including when the deportation order might be reinstated.
The Globe and Mail reported that Singh came to Canada in 2003 on a fake passport and worked as labourer until about two years ago. He suffered a massive aneurysm which left him a paraplegic. His refugee claim based on compassionate and humanitarian grounds was denied on the grounds that he did not have sufficient ties to Canada.
The advocacy group, No One Is Illegal, organized the Monday protest and they stated that further protests are planned.
On their website, Harsha Walia explained the issues of the Singh case:
For several days now people have been inundated with inaccuracies concerning Laibar Singh’s case, which have resulted in the unfortunate perception of Singh as a “law-breaker.”
First, Singh was only handed a deportation order for July 8 of this year and took sanctuary on July 7. He has, therefore, never been “illegal” in Canada before taking sanctuary. Everyone in sanctuary has overstayed a deportation order, not just Singh.
Second, Singh arrived on a fake document, which he declared to Canadian immigration authorities. This is not illegal as international and Canadian refugee law recognizes the reality that many asylum seekers will be forced to travel on fake documents.
Finally, Singh can be granted an exemption to remain in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. This legal avenue has not in fact been exhausted and is still open to him.
Certainly his physical state of paralysis and medical condition, the widespread community support he has received that is not limited to the Sikh community, and the persecution he fears, are all crucial factors and realities for Singh.
The International Convention on the Status of Refugees prohibits governments from penalizing refugees who enter “illegally” in their territory. Similarly, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act exempts refugees from prosecution for using false documents. It is crucial to understand this reality, as Singh is certainly not the only refugee claimant who has entered on a fake document.
Singh’s refusal as a refugee claimant must be understood in the context of a climate where an increasing number of sanctuary cases — currently at least 10 sanctuary cases across Canada — represents a growing movement of faith communities that are witnessing and responding to the structural flaws in the immigration and refugee system.