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Vol. 72/No. 6      February 11, 2008

Canada vigil protests gov’t deportation moves
SURREY, British Columbia—About 120 members of the Punjabi Sikh community, trade unionists, and students attended a protest vigil January 27 at the Guru Nanak Sikh temple to support Laibar Singh’s fight against deportation to India.

Singh, who has been given sanctuary at the temple, spoke briefly to the crowd, thanking them for their support and vowing to continue his fight to remain in the country.

Singh entered Canada in 2003 applying for refugee status. In 2005 the Indian-born worker suffered a stroke that left him a paraplegic. Despite his health and pending legal appeals, the Canadian government issued a deportation order for July 8, 2007.

On December 10 more than 1,500 people, mostly from the Punjabi Sikh community, rallied in his defense at the Vancouver International Airport, compelling the Canadian authorities to postpone the deportation moves.

Canadian officials again tried to deport Singh on January 9 in the middle of the night. In response, more than 300 supporters rallied at the Guru Nanak temple. This forced the Canadian border police to again postpone the deportation.

At the January 27 rally, organizers and community leaders said they were preparing for a long fight. Speakers at the rally condemned what they called inaccurate and racist coverage of this case in the big-business media, and vowed to continue to mobilize support for Singh.

An announcement was made at the rally that the Vancouver and District Labour Council had decided to back Laibar Singh’s case. The union council called on the Canadian government to rescind the deportation order and to grant him permanent residency status. This adds to the list of organizations such as the Canadian Labor Congress, British Columbia Hospital Employees Union, Chinese Canadians for Equality and Solidarity, and Canadian Union of Postal Workers in British Columbia, along with others that have endorsed this fight.

“This rally is part of national actions across Canada in 12 cities demanding permanent residency status for Laibar Singh,” said Harsha Walia , a rally organizer and member of the group No One Is Illegal.

Harmeet Singh, a retired sawmill worker, told the Militant he was there to support Laibar Singh’s right to stay in Canada.

Gil Valencia, a member of Justice for Migrant Workers, said that the Singh fight is important for all workers, especially those who face deportation threats.

The Vancouver Sun editorialized January 11 that “there are no excuses for further delays in deporting Laibar Singh.” It stated provocatively that “no one wants to break into a place of worship and drag out an invalid. But if it comes to that Singh’s supporters will have to shoulder much of the blame.”

The January 22 Globe and Mail quoted Federal Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day saying, “Deportation orders stand whether or not their subjects are in Sanctuary.”
Related articles:
SWP candidates join Houston immigrant rights event
Immigrant rights groups: ‘Stop deportations’  
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