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Global Justice Activist Detained At Canadian Border!

An activist was detained at the Ottawa border and is now imprisoned. She choose this option as a political stance. This article is written by her travelling companion and discusses the issue of open borders and free trade. There is also contact information for various government officials to voice your dissent.
Global Justice Activist Detained At Canadian Border!

By Starhawk


On Monday, November 12th, Lisa Fithian and I were travelling together to Ottawa when I was flagged by Immigration for a more extensive screening. We had both been invited by OPIRG (The Ontario Public Interest Research Group) to offer trainings on activism in preparation for upcoming demonstrations against the G20, the IMF and the World Bank which are meeting in Ottawa November 16-19. I was also scheduled to give a lecture at St. Lawrence University just across the border in the U.S. Ottawa is the nearest airport. Lisa had cleared Immigration but when I went to tell her I might be delayed, they tagged her, too. We spent nearly five hours waiting, being questioned, photographed, fingerprinted, and searched. We were told that I was picked out because I had been arrested in Seattle at the WTO protests in November of 1999, although I was never convicted of any crime there and my charges were, in fact, dropped. At one point, the Immigration Officer said he knew I had been in Seattle, and asked if I were "a member of the WTO." We were treated courteously by the officers and we remained calm and co-operative throughout. Eventually, I was admitted to Canada but my computer was held to be examined by Canadian Intelligence. Lisa was allowed to sleep overnight in Canada, but was required to return this morning, Tuesday, November 13 at 11:00 AM for a further interview to determine if she could remain.

At that interview, she was told that she was ineligible to enter Canada. She was given the choice to leave voluntarily, or be arrested.

Lisa refused to leave and was arrested. She is a courageous woman who made this choice for the following reasons:

-- Only by being arrested could she be entitled to counsel or legal representation, or have hopes of appealing the decision of Immigration.

-- The closing of borders to activists is part of the attempt to stifle legitimate dissent against the institutions of global corporatization. As an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, Lisa refused to cooperate. She chose to stand in the doorway to prevent the door from closing; to protect our right to dissent by exercising

it. Her act is the opposite of terrorism: she risks her own freedom and physical well-being, not that of others; she stands openly for what she believes in, and she exemplifies the nonviolence of the world she strives for.

-- In jail, Lisa joins hundreds who have been detained since attacks of September 11 because of the color of their skin or for some minor infringement of visa regulations. She is a forerunner of those who would be jailed for their beliefs and political principles if two Canadian anti-terrorist bills are passed. C36 would allow the authorities to detain people for up to seventy two hours for virtually no reason. C35 includes provisions that protect foreign

dignitaries who are terrorists, such as Pinochet, from demonstrations.

-- Open borders are one of the things we are fighting for. Corporate globalization allows corporations to move freely across borders, without ties or responsibilities to local communities, in search of the lowest wages and the most lax environmental and safety standards. But people are not allowed to cross borders in search of economic opportunities or better lives. Our border difficulties are mild in comparison with the immigrants who die of thirst or freeze to death attempting to come to the U.S. from Mexico. All over the world, displaced people seek refuge at borders. The borders that guard the wealthy countries are increasingly closed to those who seek political asylum or economic relief. Hundreds of thousands mass on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, seeking to escape from the devastation of U.S. bombs. The possibility of starvation, rampant disease, and their ongoing suffering haunt us.

The issue is much, much broader than what happens to any individual. The corporations have laid claim to the resources of the globe, and "free trade" demands that any borders which interfere with their profits be dissolved. We lay claim to a different freedom. We say that if capital has no borders, then people should not be constrained. The institutions of corporate globalization are international, overriding local and national laws, offering no legal way in which citizens can hold them accountable. Because they are international, we must be too. The essence of democracy is the freedom to dissent. No walls should bind our freedom to make our voices heard.

Lisa is being held at the Ottawa Carleton Regional Detention Center. One of her supporters was arrested at the airport, but has been released.

>Immigration: 1 888 242-2100 (Then dial "0" to talk to a real person)

>Contact Prime Minister Jean Chretien

By phone: 613 992-4211 - By fax: 613 941 6900

By email: PM (at)

By Mail: House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6

> Contact Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of International Trade

By phone: 613 995-8872 - By fax: 613 995-9926

By email: Pettigrew.P (at)

By mail: 507 Confederation Building, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6

> Contact Elinor Caplan, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

By email: CaplaE (at) <CaplaE (at)>">mailto:CaplaE (at)>

By phone 613954 1064 - By fax 613 992 0887

> Contact Anne McLellan

By email: MclelA (at) <MclelA (at)>By">mailto:MclelA (at)>By phone 613 992 4524 - By Fax 613 996 4516




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