Last student is deported to Pakistan
Joyia recalls `hell' of 95 days in jail for bogus reasons
Fears for safety after terrorism charges unproven
SONIA VERMA STAFF REPORTER Toronto Star Nov 18, 2003
In prison, Manzoor Qadar Joyia used to pace the floor of his tiny cell
to pass the time, measuring the number of days he spent behind bars in
footsteps. "In prison it was hell. This was the only way I could keep track of time," said the 30-year-old physician.
Yesterday, he became the last of 21 men arrested last summer on unproven
terrorism suspicions to leave Maplehurst Correctional Facility with a
one-way ticket back to Pakistan.
He had spent exactly 95 days there for
misrepresenting himself on the student visa that secured his passage
here more than two years ago. But as Joyia tells it, his lengthy detention
had more to do with accusations
of aiding Al Qaeda terrorism, allegations which could not be proven. "I have nothing to do with terrorism. Why have they put on us these allegations
of terror? Without evidence, why did they do that?" he asked.
Joyia's story echoes those of other Pakistani students arrested under
a federal investigation called Project Thread that has since unravelled.
The students were taken into custody on Aug. 14 and held under anti-terrorism
measures adopted after Sept. 11, 2001. In October, immigration officials
conceded they didn't have evidence to back their concerns. Since then,
10 of the detainees have been ordered out of the country on immigration
violations. The rest are out on bail, seeking refugee status in Canada because they
believe the terrorism allegations will endanger their lives in Pakistan.
"I belong to a country where violent interrogation is used," Joyia said of Pakistan. "Back home, people know I have been accused of terrorism. With that reputation
I won't be able to live my life in peace," he said.
Joyia first came to Canada in January, 2001, on a six-month visa to study
medicine at the Kaplan Institute. When his visa ran out, he applied for
a study permit allowing him to continue his studies at Ottawa Business
College. He paid more than $7,000 in tuition fees, but says that when
he showed up for classes, he discovered the college did not exist.
Joyia concedes he should have applied for a new visa. Instead, he continued
to quietly study for his medical exams using the permit for the business
Meanwhile, federal authorities were tipped off on the college. They discovered
the school was illegitimate and seized almost 400 student files, according
to court documents. From those files, investigators zeroed in on the
group of Pakistani students.
The students are now asking for a public inquiry into their arrest and
With files from Philip Mascoll
Source: The Toronto Star
For more information: threadbare.tyo.ca
"A city-wide coalition in Toronto, Ontario that came
together in response to the arrest and detention of twenty Pakistani men
and one south Indian man in August 2003. Being Pakistani is NOT a Crime...
STOP THE DEPORTATIONS NOW! DEFEND CIVIL LIBERTIES!"