After eight years in Montreal, Djaber Kalibi is facing inadmissibility from Canada and removal to France, due to his active opposition to the regime of the Ayatollahs in Iran.
Djaber, 77, is an activist known worldwide for his tireless dedication in the struggle against successive dictatorial regimes in Iran. After counter-revolutionary maneuvering, an Islamic republic was established causing unprecedented repression of Iranian progressives. The Canadian House of Commons has even recently condemned the massacre of thousands of Iranian political prisoners in 1988, calling it a crime against humanity, one of the most serious charges possible in international law.
In 1983, Djaber was forced to take refuge in France, where he continued to engage in political activities against the new Islamic regime in Iran. In 1986, he was arrested by the French political police on the pretext of wanting to organize the overthrow of the Islamic government by force. He was sentenced to four years in prison. On release, he faced expulsion by order of the French Minister of Interior at the time; that order was declared unconstitutional by the Court of Cassation (the court of final appeal for civil and criminal matters in France), which argued that the presence of Djaber on French territory posed no danger to national security. A few years later, after political campaigns to end the obstinacy of the French Ministry of Immigration, the French state was forced to recognize that Djaber had never been a threat to the interests of France. He was eventually able to obtain French citizenship and a passport.
In 2005, Djaber and his family chose to move to Montreal. The family integrated well in their new surroundings, where they work and their children go to school.
Unfortunately, after seven years of trying to obtain permanent residence in Canada, Djaber received an exclusion order about a month ago. On the basis of his arrest in 1986, he is accused of being the instigator or the author of subverting a government by force and engaging in terrorism. The charge is absurd. Is it even possible to overthrow an authoritarian regime like that of the Ayatollahs other than by force? The bad faith of the Canadian government – which describes in the same breath both the Iranian regime and its opponents as terrorists – is alarming.
If France granted Djaber citizenship, recognizing that he is in no way a threat to their country, under what justification can Canada reach a different conclusion?
By asserting that the presence of Djaber in Canada is detrimental to the national interest, the Canadian government is now challenging the right to revolt against a repressive government such as the Iranian Islamic regime. In the context of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada recently welcoming the election of Iranian President Rohani, one wonders if the attempted removal of Djaber is not part of a rapprochement strategy with the Islamic government. There is no doubt that the interests of Canada and Iran, which on the surface seem so far apart, perfectly converge when it comes to a well-known progressive activist.
Djaber’s real crime has been to oppose with dedication the dictatorships of the Shah and the Islamists, and to continue political organizing despite his immigration status. Now he is being punished with deportation to France at the age of 77. His wife will also be punished as she will be separated from her children in order to support her elderly husband, and will struggle to find a job at mid-life in a France that is in the middle of an economic crisis.
In order to defend the right to political organizing, as a migrant, around the future of one’s country of origin, we must do everything we can to ensure that the Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Public Safety reconsider their decision and agree to welcome Djaber Kalibi and his family here as permanent residents.
We demand Justice for Djaber on behalf of the right to resist any dictatorship!
– The Djaber Kalibi Support Committee
Report on the Final Decision concerning Djaber Kalibi
The key decision:
Djaber has been determined to be inadmissible to Canada and will face an expulsion order and a ban from Canada. He's being ruled inadmissible based on section 36 (1)(b) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, IRPA (cited below). This is based on Djaber's conviction in France in the 1980s. This fact was not contested at the original hearing, because Djaber's conviction is on-the-record, and the fact that his sentence was shortened and he eventually got French citizenship, does not mitigate the fact that he was convicted of an offence as per section 36(1)(b). According to his lawyer, Djaber could face a removal order within 30 to 60 days. The decision today did not accept that
Djaber should also be ruled inadmissible based on sections 34(1)(b) & (c) (cited below) pertaining to activities aimed at subverting by force a government (in this case the Islamic dictatorship of Iran) and or engaging in terrorism.
Today's decision was made in room 18 at the IRB's Immigration Division by Immigration member Louis Dubé. Inside the hearing room was Louis Dubé, the government representative (a Madame Lambert) and Djaber's lawyer (Viken Artinian) around the main table along with Djaber. Sitting on six chairs in the back of the room were Djaber's family and supporters. There were at least 20 people who attended in support who waited outside.
Dubé stated that there were two main allegations before him: 36(1)(b) - inadmissibility due to serious criminality; and 34(1)(b) & (c) - inadmissibility due to security, in particular subverting a government by force and terrorism. Dubé stated that he would decide on "reasonable grounds to believe" (as per section 33 of the IRPA). Dubé was quite quick in ruling on 34(1)(b). He stated that the criminal offence in France, for which Djaber was convicted, is part of the record, and admitted by Djaber and his lawyer. It is understood that the offence for which Djaber was convicted in France is an offence for which Canada has a maximum term of at least ten years. The fact that
Djaber's sentence was shortened and he eventually received French citizenship does not mean his original conviction was quashed. So, Dubé said he had no other choice, as per the IRPA, to rule Djaber inadmissible and order his expulsion from Canada. Dubé clarified that the government could appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division of the IRB (the government representative indicated verbally to Djaber's lawyer after the hearing that she does not intend to appeal, but she still must notify her bosses so they can decide formally one way or another).
The main alternative, for Djaber to stay, is to ask the Minister of Immigration to allow him to stay in Canada. Various arguments can be used, including the fact the charges are almost 30 years old, Djaber's age, the fact that Djaber has not been reproached for criminal or security offences since the original accusation, the context of trying to overthrow a regime that the current Canadian government agrees is a dictatorial and brutal regime, etc.
There was a short support work committee meeting after the hearing. A support committee will be working with Djaber to write up the request to the Minister of Immigration and the committee will meet next week to plan the next steps. There are various health, family and personal factors which Djaber, which might lead him to leave Canada for another destination relatively quickly. But, the public campaign of pressuring the Minister co-exists with whatever decisions Djaber needs to take.
We wish to thank everyone who has supported, in any way, Djaber Kalibi.
If you can help with support efforts in the coming days and weeks, please contact or visit
Djaber Kalibi’s support committee.
Relevant sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in this case (from:
lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/I-2.5/): 34. (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on security grounds for (b) engaging in or instigating the subversion by force of any government; (b.1) engaging in an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada; (c) engaging in terrorism; 36. (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of serious criminality for (b) having been convicted of an offence outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence under an Act of Parliament punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years