Event: International Voices Join MPs in Call for Repatriation from Syria


On June 23, 2022, ICLMG hosted an international press conference/public event to expose and demand an end to one of the gravest human rights violations currently perpetrated by the Canadian government.

Canada’s Guantanamo Bay – where Canadian Muslims are off-shored beyond reach of law & rights, respect & dignity – is located in North Eastern Syria. Forty-four Canadians – 8 men, 13 women and 23 children – are illegally detained there under conditions the United Nations and many human rights groups describe as akin to torture.

The Canadian government is violating their Charter Rights by refusing to repatriate them.  Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations, the US State Department, Save the Children and, in a rare show of cross-party unanimity, a Canadian Parliamentary Committee, have all called for repatriation.

The detainees’ captors themselves (who are in fact allies of Canada) have repeatedly asked that Canada send a representative or delegate for an official handover of the detainees. That’s not too much to ask, especially as dozens of other countries have managed to do this with no problem whatsoever. In addition, Canada has invested $2.5 million to repatriate Iraqi nationals from these same camps and prisons, yet not a cent has been spent on repatriation of Canadians! In fact, the federal government has forced family members of the detainees to go to Federal Court later this year seeking an order to return them home.

A stellar line-up of human rights advocates spoke at this conference:

  • Moazzam Begg, former Guantanamo Bay detainee and outreach director of Cage, UK
  • Nafeesa Mohammed, attorney and former Senator of Trinidad & Tobago, suing her government for repatriation as well
  • Clive Stafford Smith, human rights lawyer, who was one of the first lawyers into Guantanamo 20 years ago, and co-founder of Reprieve
  • Monia Mazigh, author and academic
  • Elizabeth May, Green Party MP
  • Taha Ghayyur, Justice for All
  • Natascha Mikkelsen, Repatriate the Children, Denmark
  • Sally Lane, author and mother of Jack Letts, detainee in Syria
  • Tim McSorley, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
  • Matthew Behrens, Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture
  • Heather McPherson, NDP MP and Foreign Affairs Critic

Important questions were asked. Among them:

– How can the Government of Canada celebrate its lead role in developing a Global Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention while it has refused to end the arbitrary detention of 44 of its citizens held by Canada’s ally in NE Syria?
– How can the Government of Canada claim compliance with the Convention Against Torture when it is well aware that 44 of its citizens are held under conditions akin to torture?
– How can the Government of Canada  oppose repatriation of its own citizens when it is actively funding the repatriation of Iraqi nationals from the same camps and prisons in NE Syria?
– How can the Government of Canada celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when it is actively denying these 44 citizens their Section 6 Charter right to return home?

This event was hosted on unceded Algonquin territory. This stolen land must be returned to the care of the Algonquin Nation.

Thank you for attending live or watching now!

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