L' Hon. Paul Bégin
Ministre de la Justice
1200, route de l'Église, 6e étage
Sainte-Foy, Québec G1V 4M1
I invite you to read my report about the FTAA weekend in Quebec City: www.cyberclass.net/ftaareport.htm
I am writing to demand the immediate release of Mr. Jaggi Singh. I demand that all charges against Mr. Singh be withdrawn and an official apology made. Furthermore, I demand that an official inquiry into the conditions of his arrest be opened.
The method by which Mr. Singh was arrested gives me great cause for concern. Mr. Singh, who did not directly participate in the demonstrations, was brutally arrested by undercover agents in a manner that resembles kidnapping. Observers report that he was violently attacked without warning and beaten. No report was released on Mr. Singh's whereabouts nor was he granted access to a lawyer for an extended period of time.
The charges against Mr. Singh are farcical at best. The "weapon" that he "possessed" was a catapult used to lob harmless stuffed toys over the barricade. This is a far cry from the deadly tear gas canisters that were lobbed over the fence, tear gas to which seniors and children on the legal march were exposed.
As of today, Mr. Singh has been denied bail and is to wait in jail until his trial, which could be months away. What is more eerie is that he was only present at his hearing through closed circuit television.
This is something that we would expect of dissenters in a Third-World dictatorship or an Orwellian fantasy, but not in Quebec. Canada is praised for its progressive stance on human rights, however Mr. Singh is nothing other than a political prisoner. One does not need share his political views to remember that all members of society are entitled to enjoy freedom of expression.
In 1997 Canadians were appalled at the use of pepper spray at the APEC Summit. Now they have grown accustomed to it. Will we now stand idly by while our dissenters are imprisoned? This reminds me of the government's actions in the 1930s, or of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, as long as even one of us was not free, then none of us could be truly free.
This is not the Canada that I have helped to build. In all my years I have seldom seen such an appalling miscarriage of justice as the present handling of Mr. Singh. He should be released at once and the charges against him dropped.