Thursday, June 08, 2006

Statement on Anti-Terror Arrests

From: Stop the War Coalition
Subject: Statement on anti-terror arrests
Date: Wed, 07 Jun 2006 15:52:22 -0400

Statement on anti-terror arrests
By the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War

The recent wave of "anti-terror" arrests in Toronto has sparked a national debate about the threat of terrorism in Canada and the issue of security. In response to this debate, the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War would like to put forward the following points:

1) All those arrested must be treated as innocent until proven guilty. This precept is the cornerstone of our justice system and, in order to guarantee a fair and open trial, must be consistently applied to all those now facing charges;

2) What has been reported in the press are alleged acts and not proven facts. Only a trial by the public courts system - and not the media - can determine the difference. All media has a responsibility to report on the case fairly and accurately and without resorting to sensationalism;

3) Members of government and other public officials should not publicly comment on the case in any way that undermines the precept of "innocent until proven guilty" or that compromises the integrity of a fair and open trial. So far both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day have already suggested that those charged are guilty;

4) The Muslim community and the Islamic faith should not in any way be held responsible for the alleged acts of individual suspects. Every effort should be made to ensure the safety and security of Muslims and to prevent any kind of backlash against the Muslim community. All acts motivated by Islamophobia and hate should be opposed and condemned;

5) Canadians should bear in mind that this recent wave of arrests is not the first. Two years ago, as many as twenty-six Muslim men were arrested in Toronto in a sweep called "Project Thread" that received widespread international attention and that, according to at least one government official, had uncovered "an Al-Qaeda sleeper cell" in Canada. This statement was proved to be false, not one of the men were ever formally charged (or convicted) of committing a crime, and most were deported from Canada. No effort was made to clear their names or restore their reputations.

Please circulate this statement in order to help defend civil liberties and to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community against any kind of backlash. It is critical that this recent wave of "anti-terror" arrests and the media coverage about it not be exploited to perpetuate divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims and that relationships of solidarity and support between communities be expanded and deepened. The arrests should also not be exploited in order to justify Canada's deeply unpopular participation in the occupation of Afghanistan or the use of repressive measures that curtail civil liberties in Canada such as secret trials and security certificates.

The anti-war movement in Canada has an important role to play in defending civil liberties, opposing racism and Islamophobia and supporting the Muslim community. We hope that you will join us in this effort.

Toronto Coalition to Stop the War

TCSW is Toronto's city-wide anti-war coalition, comprised of more than fifty labour, faith and community organisations, and a member of the Canadian Peace Alliance. 416-795-5863

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