Gina Csanyi-Robah believes Roma refugees in Canada face discrimination

Dear friends of the Roma community,

As many of you know from the years of emails that have been shared, Roma refugees in Canada have faced terrible institutionalized discrimination by the Canadian government and it’s agents such as the Immigration Refugee Board and the Canadian Border Services Agency.  At the same time, they were often subjected to poor legal representation by those that exploited their vulnerable status and lack of knowledge of the Canadian refugee system. For years, everyone who worked at or on behalf of the Roma Community Centre in Toronto tried to raise awareness about these issues. At long last, the truth is continuing to emerge and the stark reality for Romani asylum seekers is becoming wider known in Canada, and internationally. It is shameful that our Canadian government viciously attacked Roma asylum seekers as ‘bogus refugees’, There never was any sincere attempt to address the widely documented human rights abuses and persecution that Europe’s largest minority group has been subjected in States that have allowed endemic discrimination and racially motivated violence to target their Roma communities. In fact, our government has put significant effort into collaborating with these, especially Hungary, in creating campaigns and new policies to prevent Roma from seeking or obtaining asylum in Canada.
Hopefully, in the near future we will see some changes in place that will prevent the government in power from singling out and attacking certain communities. When this happens, it affects the quality of life for all of us in a country that prides itself on being inclusive, equal rights for all, and embracing of diversity. Unfortunately. for some segments of the Canadian population, these are just words on a policy paper or in a public relations speech – they aren’t the reality of their Canadian experience.
Here are some important Roma related articles that have been published recently.
Wishing everyone a happy easter, passover, or perhaps just a long weekend to enjoy time with family or friends. 

Solidarity Across Borders Denounces Deportation of Roma Family to Hungary

Solidarity Across Borders Denounces Deportation of Roma Family to Hungary 

Anasztazia Szilagyi, husband Dezso Nemeth, and their two children Mark (21) and Mercedesz (10) will be deported this evening back to Hungary where they face neo-Nazi violence.

Their request for a stay of deportation was refused by the Federal Court’s Justice Locke this morning, less than twelve hours before the family is scheduled to be deported.

Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where approximately 23,000 Roma were systematically massacred, out of a total of 500,000 Roma murdered from 1939 to 1945 in Europe. The same racist violence that lead to these events, using the same symbols and language, is on the rise again today in Hungary. The Nemeth family came to Canada in 2011, fleeing this anti-Roma violence that they had personally experienced.

Roma family denied stay in Montreal

http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.2199902

Hungary is top country of origin for refugee claimants paid to leave Canada

November 5, 2014 10:01 am

Canada pays thousands of Roma to abandon refugee appeals, leave country

By  Global News

Dominik Tomko signed along the dotted line. His flight was booked, his bags packed: He’d agreed to accept $8,000 plus plane tickets in exchange for abandoning his refugee claim, and leaving the country with his wife and two sons.

Then, 17 days before his Aug. 28 takeoff date, he changed his mind. His brother Miroslav’s claim, virtually identical to Tomko’s own, had been approved.

“I didn’t know my brother was going to be accepted. So I was already prepared to go home.”

Tomko would have been one of more than 3,600 people Canada paid to abandon their refugee claims and leave the country since July, 2012, federal statistics show.

And data Global News obtained under federal access-to-information laws indicates most of these refugee claimants are Roma. Citizens of Hungary, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia make up 61 per cent of the total of people in the program – more than 1,800 by March of this year.

Immigration and Refugee Minister Chris Alexander refused to speak with Global News for this story.

“The [Canadian Border Services Agency] will not speculate on why these are the top five countries of return,” CBSA spokesperson Line Guibert-Wolf said in an e-mail.

Under the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Program, unsuccessful refugee claimants who agree to abandon the appeal process are given airfare home, which on average costs $1,500, and “in-kind reintegration assistance” to a maximum of $2,000.

That payment “may be used to pay for services such as assistance creating a small business, obtaining education and/or job training,” CBSA spokesperson Esme Bailey wrote in an e-mail.

The payments are administered by the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration, which describes the program as “politically more palatable and less sensitive than the return of émigrés in shackles.”

Since Canada began the program in 2012, it has spent a total of $7.5 million paying would-be refugees to leave.

(…)

VAUGHAN, Ont.: Gypsy family charged in necklace scam

Seniors scammed out of jewelry in Vaughan; Markham family among accused

 

Certain criminals have no scruples.

That includes an accented woman who approached Franco Gangari, a 74-year-old Woodbridge man in his garage as he sat peacefully with his wife and his neighbour, 81.

After being approached by the female dressed in traditional Romani clothing, he was presented with a bogus story as a way to strike up a conversation about directions.

Author Erna Paris calls Canada “mean-minded” toward refugees

Canadian mean-mindedness is back

ERNA PARIS

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published 

Last updated 

A new edition of Erna Paris’s book From Tolerance to Tyranny: A Cautionary Tale from Fifteenth-Century Spain will be published in January.

In 1979 and 1980, the government of Canada admitted 50,000 Vietnamese refugees. Ordinary Canadians were invited to participate in the boat people program. My parents and our extended relatives and friends raised enough money to sponsor a family. They were diligent workers: Before long, they were driving a better car than we were.

We did this because we remembered that a meaner Canada had refused entry to a shipload of desperate Jewish refugees from Nazism 40 years before.

That prewar mean-mindedness is back. Canada’s refugee determination system needed updating, but the Harper government has gone much too far. It has been accused of breaching international law, breaching the Constitution, and – just as important – breaching the values Canadians have defined themselves by.

Some recent examples: Last month, a 65-year-old Pakistani woman who fled to Canada because she had been accused of adultery and faced death by stoning was deported. She had appealed to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which advised Ottawa to delay the deportation until it could review her case under the UN Convention Against Torture, which Canada signed in 1985.

According to Amnesty International, our government’s patent disregard for international law will weaken its claim to be a global defender of human rights.

In July, Justice Anne MacTavish of the Federal Court ruled that the government’s cuts to health care for failed refugee claimants constituted “cruel and unusual treatment.” Denying health care puts the lives of vulnerable people at risk in a manner that “outrages our standards of decency” and is unconstitutional, she wrote. Clearly piqued, the Harper government announced this week that it would appeal the judge’s decision. It also asked the appeal court to delay enforcement of the order to resume health care until the appeal had been heard. That could be months.