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Awan Grandmother facing deportation despite physicians’ warnings about her heart condition

August 21, 2013

Montreal - Mrs. Khurshid Begum Awan was informed today that she will be deported August 21 at 6pm. Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) agent Normand Lespérance issued the new ultimatum to the grandmother despite warnings from medical experts that her heart condition makes it unsafe for her to fly.

Mrs Awan was in the news earlier this month when CBSA agents sparked public outcry by entering a hospital emergency room in an attempt to arrest her on the eve of a previous deportation date. She was being treated after collapsing in the CBSA offices and being rushed to hospital. CBSA agents only agreed to leave when top hospital staff insisted that she was not fit to fly.

Mrs. Awan was originally ordered deported to Pakistan after her refugee claim was rejected in December 2012. Her request at the Federal Court for an administrative stay of removal was then also rejected in June, despite letters from three general physicians, one emergency physician and one cardiologist clearly stating that she should not travel to Pakistan in her current health condition. It was not until she suffered a heart attack in the Montreal CBSA office on July 4th that the removal procedures against her were finally delayed.

CBSA has now given her a new removal date for tomorrow, August 21 at 6pm, despite another letter from her doctor stating that, according to Canada’s own guidelines, she should not fly before having received adequate treatment.

Mrs. Awan has not been able to receive follow up treatment for her heart attack due to lack of medical coverage. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has abnormally refused to renew her Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) document unless she presents herself in person to their offices.

According to Rick Goldman of the Comité d’aide aux réfugiés (CAR), "this is a very unusual and arbitrary treatment. People are not normally obliged to pick up their medical coverage papers in person, and it makes even less sense for someone in such a precarious state of health."

"From agents showing up at the hospital to arrest her while she was still recovering from a heart attack, to the government withholding her health coverage for more than a month, this woman has suffered tremendous abuse at the hands of the Canadian government," says Cynthia Beaudry from Solidarity Across Borders.

Mrs. Awan is also at severe risk in Pakistan, where her husband has been in hiding since he was deported from Canada in April. The Federal Court has refused to accept evidence from police in Pakistan that he has suffered an armed attack since his deportation.

"The threat of more targeted sectarian violence at the hands of the Sipah E. Sahaba, an anti-Shia group now banned in Pakistan, is extremely worrisome. We not only fear that she could die if she’s put on a plane, but also that she could die if she’s sent back into the hands of her aggressors," says her lawyer Stewart Istvanffy.

Solidarity Across Borders with Mrs. Awan’s Canadian daughter Tahira Malik and her 15 year old grandson Ali Own, as well as more than ten organizations including Amnistie Internationale - Canada francophone are demanding that Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander stop her deportation.

"We call on Minister Alexander to fast track her request for status on Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds so that she can live with her family in peace and safety." said Beaudry.


For more information contact:
Cynthia Beaudry
Solidarity Across Borders
Phone: 438-878-4354

Leah Freedman
Solidarity Across Borders
Phone: 514-679-3339

Stewart Istvanffy
Phone: 514-876-9776

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