New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS): A recent diplomatic rift between Canada and India over Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian-Indian and leader of an outlawed Khalistan killed by unknown assailants at a Sikh temple in Surrey in the province of British Columbia in mid-June has dominated news headlines.
After four months, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suddenly stood up the House of Commons at Parliament Hill and told lawmakers in Ottawa that his government possessed “credible” allegations which pointed fingers toward Indian intelligence potential link to the assassination.
As political historian Mohiuddin Ahmad says, Canada came out in the public domain regarding the allegations against India. But on the other hand, Canada has never made public the Chinese interference and their covert activities.
Canada allows hate speech by radical Sikhs in the name of freedom of speech and expression, which is not only a double standard but a hypocritical government, remarked Ahmed.
Canada’s allies are still quiet! Trudeau expects condemnation from the West while asking India to cooperate on the murder of confessed extremists for an independent Khalistan. The anti-Indian terror campaign for a separate territory for the Sikhs has been aided and abetted by the dreaded Pakistan spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI).
Well, his government has yet to share evidence blaming India behind Nijjar’s death, who was chief of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) and is unlikely to get ‘cooperation’ from New Delhi. Ottawa has refused to extradite a couple of “most-wanted” Sikhs for crimes committed in India and elsewhere.
In a tit-for-tat expelling spy agency officials under diplomatic cover from each other country.
An Indian born Ashok Swain @ashoswai, Professor at Uppsala University, Sweden tweets: “Modi has made Canada, India’s new Pakistan!”
Pierre Trudeau (father of Justin Trudeau) turned down India’s request to hand over a Sikh militant named Talwinder Singh Parmar, the head of the terrorist organisation.
The ‘person of interest’ has been blamed for placing a bomb on an Air India flight in 1985. The bomb exploded midair, killing 329 people, 268 of them Canadian citizens.
Millions of immigrants who adopted Canada as their new home, do not know that Canada is a haven for Nazi war criminals and other wanted criminals living with impunity.
The politicians and former officials of their home countries [list of countries withheld for obvious reason] have been laundering money accumulated from loot, corruption and illegal cartels with a “no question asked policy” of Canada for new arrivals.
Nearly a thousand suspects indicted for war crimes, according to the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals by Justice Jules Deschenes (1985-1986) are believed to be living in Canada.
The Royal Commission was able to establish that identified Nazi war criminals, for crimes committed in Germany and marauding Nazi occupation forces during World War II were given permanent residency. The Nazi war criminals brought huge wealth looted from Europe and especially from Jews.
The book ‘Unauthorized Entry: The Truth about Nazi War Criminals in Canada, 1946-1956’ by Howard Margolian published in 2000 brings fresh waves among Canadians what the war crimes advocacy groups, the media, and even a royal commission have suggested that Canada has given refuge to such criminals.
On the recommendation of the Commission, Canada enacted the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, 2000. Under the new legislation, one Rwandan immigrant was found guilty of committing genocide and sentenced to life in prison in May 2009.
The Canadian Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Programme investigated 200 perpetrators currently residing in Canada.
Notwithstanding India’s repeated requests over the years to extradite the “most wanted” extremists, who have harmed India, Canada decided not to comply and gave any explanation.
On the other hand, Bangladesh had also made requests over 20 years to deport the ‘most wanted’ army officer S.H.M.B. Nur Chowdhury, held responsible for the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the independence hero of Bangladesh in a military putsch on August 15, 1975. The 73-year-old fugitive has been living in Canada since 1996.
“That’s why he is safe in Canada,” writes Charlie Gillis, a Canadian journalist, “The assassin among us.” Nur told a state broadcaster Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) denying the allegation of taking part in the murder of Bangabandhu and said as a junior military officer he obeyed orders of his superiors.
Sheikh Mujib’s daughter, present Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina pleaded with her counterpart Justin Trudeau at several meetings on the sideline at global events to deport her father’s assassin. Her appeal fell on deaf ears though.
A new Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Heather Cruden in September 2011 in an explosive statement said that “Canada will not expel any suspected criminal to face a possible execution abroad.”
“Our government has a clear policy that we cannot extradite people to a country where there is [a] death sentence,” she told reporters in Dhaka.
The diplomat has rekindled a long-running dispute between Canada and Bangladesh, during which Bangladeshi officials have at times accused Canada of giving refuge to the most wanted fugitive for 27 years.
Canadian Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and Ministry of Foreign Affairs sings the same tune. A policy statement says something like this: “Bangladesh judiciary is not independent and deportation or extradition of a certain person will jeopardise his safety and his security would be compromised by a politically motivated justice system.”
“There are possibilities of being harmed when the person is forced to return to his country of origin.”
Canada provided a typical argumentative argument on the request for the deportation of Chowdhury, who was indicted in absentia for the murder of Sheikh Mujib and has been sentenced to the death penalty by a special tribunal in Dhaka in 1998 and declared him a fugitive. His name appears in the red list of Interpol.
Canadian media have intermittently kept the issue alive. This possibly has impacted the rejection of Chowdhury’s asylum case and demand for extradition by the Bangladesh government.
All his hope to live in Canada has been dashed after all the gates of the refugee court, appeal court and higher court shut down on his face. Chowdhury’s asylum case has been denied again and again.
Shahidul Islam Mintu, founder and CEO of the first 24/7 NRB Television for the Bangladeshi diaspora in Canada has been following the case of Chowdhury.
He said the fugitive rarely ventures outside his apartment except to buy groceries. He once faced angry Bangladesh nationals who condemned him for killing Mujib and demanding punishment. He lives in seclusion in Etobicoke, Toronto.
In a brazen move, Ottawa wanted to negotiate with Washington DC to send rogue military officer AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, to a third country (preferably Canada), who swears that he didn’t play a role in the assassination of Sheikh Mujib.
Ahmed’s asylum case in Los Angeles, US has been rejected multiple times in appeal courts. The US authorities decided to deport him, which was indeed a surprise for Bangladesh.
The fugitive was deported to Bangladesh and the verdict was executed by hanging for the crime.
On May 29, 2007, Irwin Cotler, Minister of Justice addressing the Speaker of Parliament urged Ms Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration that a “former Bangladesh diplomat with a Canadian connection is facing imminent deportation from the US to Bangladesh where he will be executed after a political trial was held in absentia,” as documented in the Parliament Hill online archive.
“Given this humanitarian issue and that Mr Mohiuddin Ahmed has immediate family in Canada, would the minister be prepared to review this case, to provide Mr Ahmed with the protection this case would warrant and help secure the suspension of his deportation until this case can be reviewed?”
However, Finley assured the members at Parliament Hill that Canada has “one of the most welcoming and fair immigration systems in the world.”
Commonly most people know that hundreds of international victims of torture have found safety in Canada including dissidents, opposition, journalists, writers and academicians.
Nevertheless, this statement has been contradicted by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International. A damning joint report blames Canada to have incarcerated thousands of people (between the ages of 15 and 83), including those with disabilities, on immigration-related grounds every year in often abusive conditions.
“Canada’s abusive immigration detention system is in stark contrast to the rich diversity and the values of equality and justice that Canada is known for globally,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada.
Of course, Canada had forced several immigrants to their country of origin, who fled the country after they were brutalised and tortured.
In the case of Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen was a victim of rendition and tortured in Syria after the United States turned him over as an Al-Qaeda suspect in 2002.
Arar, a telecommunication engineer was boarding a flight back home to Canada from Tunisia at JFK Airport in New York. He was detained for 12 days in New York and was secretly transferred to Syria.
US authorities alleged he was a member of the international terror network Al Qaeda and said they acted on data supplied by Canadian police.
Amnesty says in Syria, he was held in degrading and inhumane conditions, interrogated, and tortured for a year.
After media and rights groups outcry, Canada was forced to bring him back and had to pay a compensation of $10.5 million.
Similar incidents occurred with dissident Noura Al-Jizawi, a Syrian born immigrant in Canada who was flagged as a security risk when she applied for a Permanent Resident (PR) card. Also, an Egyptian-born Joseph Attar, a Canadian citizen returned home serving 15 years imprisonment in Egypt on spying charges.
In February 2007, Ottawa formally apologised for the role officials may have played in the torture and abuse of three Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin in Syria in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. A commission of inquiry found that Canadian officials were indirectly responsible for what happened to the three men.
Possibly for now, Nur Chowdhury’s prayer to Allah has kept him away from being guillotined for his crime. The diplomatic engagement to bring the rogue military officer back to Dhaka to face the music of justice remains frustrating for the coming years will be in deep freeze.
(Saleem Samad is an award-winning independent journalist based in Bangladesh. Views expressed are personal. Twitter: @saleemsamad; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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