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Maher Arar

Fragile Rights: The Erosion of our Human Rights and Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security

Date Recorded: Feb 12th, 2009
Recorded At: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ fundraiser, Vancouver
Recorded By: Alex Smith,
Duration: 59:30

Topic Background
In 2002, while in transit in New York’s JFK airport when returning home from a vacation, Arar was detained by US officials and interrogated about alleged links to al-Qaeda. Twelve days later, he was chained, shackled and flown to Syria, where he was held in a tiny cell for ten months and ten days before he was moved to a better cell in a different prison. In Syria, he was beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession.

During his imprisonment, Arar’s wife, Monia Mazigh, campaigned relentlessly on his behalf until he was returned to Canada in October 2003. In 2004, under pressure from Canadian human rights organizations and a growing number of citizens, the Government of Canada announced a Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar.

In September 2006, the Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Dennis O’Connor, cleared Arar of all terrorism allegations, stating he was “able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada.” Maher and Monia continue to advocate for the full implementation of Justice O’Connor’s recommendations.

In this talk, Mr. Arar speaks about the fragility of our rights, the dangers of allowing deeper integration with the US to trump human rights, and the need for meaningful oversight of CSIS and the RCMP if we are to restore Canada’s tarnished reputation for promoting human rights both at home and around the globe.

Mr Arar spoke at a fundraiser for the BC Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, in Vancouver, in February, 2009.

The talk originally aired on The Brownbagger, on CFRO, Vancouver Co-op Radio.

Speaker Biography
Maher Arar is a wireless technology consultant, and a father of two. He was born in Syria and came to Canada with his family at the age of 17. He became a Canadian citizen in 1991.

For more information about Maher Arar visit

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