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TORONTO—On the morning of Saturday, June 16th, several posters were illegally mounted on the walls and fences outside of a Toronto prison, Toronto West Detention Centre. The posters concerned Mohammad Mahjoub, a former detainee at the facility who has spent nearly twelve years in detention and on house arrest despite never having been charged with any offense.
In June of 2000, Mr. Mahjoub was arrest on a security certificate— a controversial mechanism which allows the Canadian government to detain and deport non-citizens living in Canada without charging them with a crime. The Government claims that Mahjoub is a threat to national security and have tried to link him to terrorism.
Mr. Mahjoub and his supporters deny this claim, asserting that the government has not presented any evidence that Mahjoub is a threat or pressed charges against him. They see Security Certificates as illegitimate and arbitrary. Issuing one only requires the signature of the Minister of Public Safety and can be based on secret information.
"It is a system of two-tiered justice, because Security Certificates can only be issued against non-citizens," said Syed Hussan, an organizer with the Justice for Mahjoub Network, adding, "The federal court has strangely ruled that in these cases the presumption of innocence does not apply."
Photos of the posters that were mounted at the jail were spread on Facebook by the Justice for Mahjoub Network, however they did not claim responsibility for putting them up.
"These posters were put up by allies who wanted the officers who jailed and tortured Mahjoub for 6 years to know that they were still being watched. It was also put up so that passers-by knew that Canada was jailing people without charge."
One of the posters that was pasted at the Toronto West Detention Centre was a large cut-out photo of Mahjoub and read: "Mahjoub Spent 6 Years behind these fences. He's spent 12 years in detention in Canada and he's NEVER been charged. Enough! Justice for Mahjoub Now!"
Other posters promoted a rally in support of Mahjoub that is being held on Tuesday June 26th in front of the CSIS building in downtown Toronto and marching to the federal courthouse.
"The rally marks the 12th anniversary of Mahjoub's arrest: a man who has been used to create a climate of fear in Canada against Muslims and immigrants. Marching with him is a show of solidarity against racism and Islamophobia and shows the lies that CSIS and Immigration Canada have created," explained Hussan. "This man's life has been destroyed for no reason."
Although the rally focuses primarily on the case of Mahjoub it will also be demanding the immediate release of the two other men currently being held under Security Certificates, as well as protesting the broader "anti-immigrant" policies of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
The rally will also demand justice, apology, reparations and citizenship for all five men who have been victimized by the Security Certificates regime and accountability for all officials responsible.
Tim Groves is a researcher and journalist based in Toronto. This article originally appeared on the Toronto Media Co-op.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.