Betrayed by government

Abousfian Abdelrazik speaks at UNB (Alex Solak/AQ)
Abousfian Abdelrazik speaks at UNB (Alex Solak/AQ)

Ayat Abed Isaid – The Aquinian

The Canadian government is the cause of the problems Abousfian Abdelrazik has been through, said Shaun Narine, an associate political science professor at St. Thomas University.

“The Canadian government actually created this problem, apparently both by alerting the Sudanese to Abdelrazik, causing him to be arrested and tortured, and then making it impossible for him to come home,” said Narine. “The Canadian government is the cause of the problem. Obviously, it should never have done that in the first place.”

Abdelrazik, a 47 year-old Sudanese-Canadian, spent nearly six years in prison and forced exile while his attempts to come home were thwarted.

He returned to Canada in June 2009 after Ottawa was ordered by a federal judge to send him home.

Now, and after coming back to Canada, Abdelrazik can’t sleep at night. The flashbacks of the horrible treatment he suffered in jail back in Sudan are engraved in his mind.

“In prison I was treated very badly,” he said. “They used to tie my hands and force me to stand against the wall for more than 7 hours. They used to slap me in the face and make my nose bleed.”

Abdelrazik’s only friends in prison were insects, he said in an exclusive interview last Tuesday.

He said he used to talk to ants. He used to stare at them and feed them bread so they don’t go away and leave him alone.

“I used to tell them my story, they listened – or I was convincing myself that they understood me,” he said.

Abdelrazik now faces no criminal charges and strongly denies any relationship with al-Qaeda or any other terrorist groups.

He said doesn’t know why people are pointing the finger at him and label him as a terrorist.

“I love Canada, I am Canadian,” he said. “I live in this country, it is my family, my friend … I will protect it no matter what, I will call the police if someone plans to harm my country.”

Narine said the Canadian government abandoned its role to protect its citizen.

“Even if a person is correctly accused of committing a crime in a foreign country, the state has a moral obligation to offer that person support and legal counsel. Whether or not the state has a legal obligation to do this is more of a gray area, though this has certainly been the practice in the past,” he said. “However, the current Conservative government has abandoned a lot of Canadian practices in this area.”

James Devine, a member of Amnesty International Fredericton, agreed that the Canadian government has not done enough.

“The Canadian government has fallen through on providing services and protection for the citizen,” he said. “It seems that unless you just have a single identity as a Canadian citizen, you won’t be protected.”

Devine added Abdelrazik is just one of the latest cases that the Canadian government abandoned its moral obligation to support its citizen.

“Maher Arar, a Syrian-Canadian, was also censored by the U.S. authority and Canadian RCMP and tortured in Syria,” he said. “They knew what was happening to him. They actually knew he was tortured. It’s a shame on this government and on this administration.”

“It’s not truthful at best and at worst, it’s a violation of basic human rights.”

Denied his basic human right – the right to dignity, Abdelrazik feels that the Canadian government let him down.

“I was feeling so sad … I couldn’t believe that the Canadian government would do something like that … I was afraid to talk to them,” he said.

Still, for Abdelrazik, Canada is a country that promotes equality, respect, and human rights. And even after what the Canadian government did for him, he said he still calls Canada home.

“I am Canadian and proud of it,” he said.

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