The British Columbia Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines is scheduled to host an international
conference aimed at establishing a lasting peace in the Phillipines in Vancouver, Canada, in December 2002.
However, delegates from developing countries, attempting to register for the conference have come up against
intense harrassment, discrimination and often downright arrogance from Visa officers at Canadian Immigration
Centers in several parts of the world.
When they applied for an interview with the Canadian Embassy to apply for their visa, delegates from Nigeria were
told they would be granted an appointment in January 2003, two months after the conference. This decision was
upheld even under appeal.
Delegates from Bangladesh were called in for at least five interviews at the embassy. Despite their efforts to
provide all the necessary documentation, they were denied visas on the vague basis of “not having met the
requirements”. They had derogatory messages stamped in their passports and were not refunded the $200 fee for
A delegate from the Philippines who represents a national organization of urban poor women was denied a visitor's
visa because the officer felt that her English was not adequate for participation in the conference
"This blatant discrimination against one of our invited guests - for whom we had already secured translation - is an
outrage," states Monica Urrutia, a member of Grassroots Women and the Conference Secretariat. "Canada's
façade of being a human rights champion is exposed by this incredible presumption and racism on behalf of the
Rachel Rosen, a member of Grassroots Women, a Canadian group that is one of the conference conveners
"In the fall out of September 11, we are really seeing blatant political repression with no holds barred," "These
delegates represent mass organizations from around the world who are active in the struggle against war and
imperialism. They are being denied visas because of their political beliefs and activities, a blatant violation of their
human and civil rights. "With the anti-terrorism hysteria and fortress mentality, we will see more and more of this
type of attacks, unless we unite to challenge the so-called anti-terrorism agenda."
More evidence that the war on terrorism is in fact, doing as much damage as September 11th did, in terms of
creating an even more suspicious global atmosphere. The campaign was begun to create a global climate of peace, but it has in fact achieved the exact oppposite of that objective. Here we are, one year after the attacks in New York, facing all kinds of military and human rights disasters. So then, these great western powers, who claim to be authorities on the Protection of Human Rights, are in fact little better than all these governments in the South they are constantly
trying to overthrow. About time to put their own houses in order, I'd say, at risk of sounding disgustingly cliche. :)
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