‘Second Komagatamaru’

The Laibar Singh Case

Published on ZNet, by Harsha Walia, December 20, 2007.

Laibar Singh is a 48-year old paralyzed Dalit Punjabi refugee claimant who is facing deportation to India. He had taken sanctuary on July 7 in the Abbotsford Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar Gurudwara. While in sanctuary, Mr. Singh’s health deteriorated and he had to be hospitalized. On Monday August 13, while in the hospital, Abbottsford police and Canadian Border Services Agency officers detained Mr. Laibar Singh. However due to immense community and political pressure, including a 600-person rally at his detention hearing within 24 hours notice, Mr. Singh was granted a temporary stay. He subsequently received a deportation order for December 10th- International Human Rights Day.

In a historic and unprecedented move, approximately 1500-2000 people including elders, women, and children converged at the Vancouver International Airport and surrounded the vehicle in which Laibar was being brought to the airport in for his scheduled deportation. Canadian Border Services Agency officers were unable to remove Laibar and were forced to postpone the deportation. The physical prevention of a deportation/expulsion- one of the most violent forms of state-sanctioned repression and brutality in the world today- has been hailed as a significant victory and has served as a powerful inspiration to movements across North Amerika.

Similar to indigenous resistance struggles, the racist backlash has been vehement and goes far beyond just the ‘violent protestor’ stereotype. Online forum discussion include comments such as “America has Al Qaeda. Canada has Sikhs”; “They weren’t Canadians, only White people are Canadians”; and “What bothers me is that the millitary was not brought in.” South Asian organizers within this campaign have received personal hate-based emails and phone calls. Several South Asian youth have reported an escalation of racially-motivated comments in their schools, all of which has a devastating impact on the South Asian community and immigrant/racialized communities as awhole who are constantly reminded of their subordinate position especially during moments of active resistance to the Canadian government … (full text).

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