Wednesday, March 07, 2007

**Update** ACLU files suit on behalf of Kevin & his family

Finally, some hope: "ALCU files suit over detained Canadian boy" (CP)
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday demanding U.S. officials release a Canadian boy and his Iranian parents from the "inhumane conditions'' of a Texas immigration detention centre.

The legal challenge, filed in a Texas district court against Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and others, also asks that the government be prohibited from separating nine-year-old Kevin Yourdkhani from his parents.

"There is simply no justification for imprisoning innocent children who pose no threat to anyone,'' said union staff lawyer Vanita Gupta.

"This is an affront to our core values as a nation. We need practical, realistic immigration policy, not draconian methods that are harming vulnerable kids.''

Kevin and his parents, who lived in Toronto for 10 years before they were deported to Iran, were again seeking refuge in Canada last month when their flight made an unscheduled stop on American soil.

U.S. Customs officials discovered they were travelling with fake Greek passports and took them into custody.

A Toronto lawyer has applied for a temporary residency permit for the parents, who have no legal standing in Canada, but
no decision has been made by Citizenship and Immigration.

Kevin, who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper pleading for help, declared in a court document that he sleeps in a cell with his mother right next to a toilet and there is no privacy.

"The food is garbage,'' he said.
"I was hungry all the time for five days ... Everybody in my pod is really sick right now. Some kids can't go to school. Lots of kids have eye infections.''

His father, Majid Yourdkhani, sleeps on a separate floor although he once came to fix the boy's bed.

Officials at the T. Don Hutto facility, a converted prison just outside Austin, were angry about that and threatened to put his parents in separate jails while placing Kevin in foster care, said the boy.

"I cried and cried so much that I lost my energy and I went to sleep. I felt if I will be separated I can never see my parents again.''

In the lawsuit, which includes nine other kids from various countries, the rights group charges the centre doesn't meet minimum conditions for housing minors and many children lack access to adequate medical care and education.
And to anyone who dares question the family's history of being tortured in Iran (e.g. as a pretext for denying their re-entry into Canada):
After facing torture [in Iran], which [the family's lawyer] said was corroborated by Amnesty International, the parents made another attempt to seek refuge in Canada with the use of stolen Greek passports.
And tonight? Kevin and his family await a decision from Min. Citizenship & Immigration, Diane Finley: "Jailed boy’s fate in hands of immigration minister" (CP)
A formal application for a temporary residency permit for the parents, who have no legal standing in Canada, was filed Monday with Canadian immigration authorities, said Andrew Brouwer of the Toronto law firm Jackman & Associates.

It should also be in the hands of Immigration Minister Diane Finley, who has the power to immediately grant the application on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, Brouwer added.

"That’s all we’re asking her to do," he said.

"We’re not asking for permanent status for the family.
We’re just saying that Kevin is a Canadian citizen, he’s a child, and he’s in a jail. He’s been there for almost a month. The only option for this family at this point appears to be that they come to Canada."

U.S. authorities would likely free the family from the facility for illegal immigrants if the permit were granted, allowing them to re-enter Canada where they plan to make a second bid for asylum, Brouwer added.

An American who heard about the family’s plight has already agreed to pay for their flight back to Canada, he said.
Ok, Diane. Get to work! (you can expect a lot of emails!) And you, too, Peter Mackay--we haven't forgotten your role in all of this! (emails galore!)

Canadians do not treat children this way, nor do we abide anyone else locking up our children. We're watching & waiting and we are beyond outraged. Here's an updated list of Canadian bloggers who have added their voices and demanded Kevin's freedom (in the order that I read them, not necessarily the order in which they were written):
  1. Verbena-19 (Annamarie brought this to my attention, over a week ago! Watch her site for regular updates)
  2. Pogge (skdadl)
  3. liberal catnip (+update here)
  4. April Reign
  5. Thought Interrupted
  6. The Cylinder
  7. Vive le Canada
  8. The Next Agenda (nbstar)
  9. My Blahg
  10. JimBobby (+ update here, "nine-year-old-blues" song!)
  11. The Galloping Beaver (+their letter to Mackay)
  12. Kenn Chaplin
  13. Dr. Dawg
  14. Cathie from Canada
  15. The Vanity Press
  16. Red Jenny
  17. Pretty Shaved Ape
  18. Canadian Cynic
  19. Nitroglycol
  20. Peter's Politics
  21. Take off, eh?
  22. The Anth Zone (*)
  23. More Notes from the Underground (*)
  24. The Christian Radical (*)
(*) indicates blogs not included in my previous list. Please keep'm coming & let me know if I've missed anyone!
[Updated Wednesday, March 8, 9:54AM: added Peter Mackay's email (thanks for the reminder, skdadl!!]


Blogger Annamarie said...

Thank you so much, GDK!! Greatly appreciated!

best wishes,

3/07/2007 2:03 AM  
Blogger skdadl said...

Thanks for this news, GDKitty, and for doing so much of the spadework.

I know it's technically correct that this is now in Finley's court, but it is also always still in the power of MacKay and then Harper to do some of the background work that we know they could do.

3/07/2007 6:56 AM  

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