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On behalf of CUPE’s 535,000 members, National President Paul Moist has written to Prime Minister Jean Chretien to condemn the treatment of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen deported by the United States and imprisoned in Syria, and demanded a public inquiry into the affair. There are allegations that Canada was involved in the deportation and that Arar was tortured for several months while abroad.

“We are increasingly concerned that Canadians of Arab origin are being subjected to unfair and discriminatory treatment because of the U.S.-led ‘war on terrorism’,” Moist wrote. “We need immediate action by the federal government to ensure that the human rights of Arab-Canadians are upheld.”

CUPE is also monitoring two other cases of potential human rights abuses by the Canadian government: Abdul Rahman Khadr, a Canadian citizen who was held by the U.S. government at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for almost a year before being sent (allegedly against his will) to Afghanistan; and Hassan Almrei, a refugee from Syria who has been held in a Toronto jail cell since October, 2001 without charge and is being threatened with deportation back to his home, despite serious risk of torture.

As of November 27, Chretien has refused to call a public inquiry into the Arar case and has not spoken publicly about Khadr or Almrei. However, the next prime minister, Paul Martin, says he is open to the idea of a public inquiry into the Arar case. He takes over on December 12.