Seven Lebanese are scheduled for deportation from Canada next week into the hands of Hezbollah terrorists likely to imprison, torture or kill them, say activists working on their behalf, while the Canadian government continues a program to grant stay orders and work permits for exotic dancers.
The deportees are former members of the South Lebanese Army, a predominantly Christian militia formed by residents of the area to protect locals and fight against the PLO and Hezbollah.
The SLA was supervised and in part protected by Israel until its withdrawal from Lebanon under Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000, forcing many SLA members to flee for fear of retaliation from Hezbollah forces.
One SLA member, whose name is being withheld for his safety, is scheduled for deportation to Lebanon Dec. 29. Six others are scheduled to follow, possibly days later.
But activists say Canada may be in violation of the 1984 International Convention Against Torture, and they cite several cases of recently deported SLA members who were captured and tormented or killed, as Joseph Farah’s G2 bulletin reported last week.
In July, an SLA vet who traveled to Lebanon to visit his sick elderly parents was arrested at the Beirut International Airport and was handed over to Hezbollah for detention and torture. He had fled Lebanon in 1992 and obtained Canadian citizenship after 12 years of residency. The vet had traveled with a valid Lebanese visa and a Canadian passport.
In September, SLA vet Ibrahim el Khoury, his wife Norma Ata, and two children were detained upon their arrival at Beirut International Airport. Khoury was imprisoned and tortured while the family was kept for a few days and harshly interrogated, activists say.
“Little time remains for effective action to save the SLA veterans from almost certain death at the hands of Hezbollah operations and militias now in control of Southern Lebanon,” said human rights activists Jerry Gordon and Brigitte Gabriel in a prepared statement.
They say “Hezbollah sympathizers” associated with Amnesty International have been pressuring the Canadian government to deport the vets.
“This bizarre violation of human rights is the result of false allegations by Hezbollah sympathizers and Amnesty International representatives in the province of Quebec led by an acknowledged Hezbollah sympathizer, photographer-journalist Ms. Jos?e Lambert,” they charge.
Lambert and Amnesty’s Quebec chapter have accused the SLA vets of mistreatment of prisoners while operating the al-Khiam detention facility in South Lebanon. The facility was maintained by the Israel Defense Forces and operated by the SLA.
But Red Cross reports from visits to al-Khiam while under SLA direction have contradicted Amnesty’s accusations, according to the former director of internal security at the facility, now a U.S. resident.
“Lambert has gone to Lebanon several times and met privately on a number of occasions with Hezbollah leader Sayyad Hassan Nasrallah, [even] as late at the summer of 2002, just before Canada was pressured to add Hezbollah to its terrorist watch list,” said Gordan and Gabriel
Dr. Walid Phares, terrorism expert and Professor of Middle East Studies at Florida Atlantic University told WorldNetDaily, “The Canadian government should hold them and try to coordinate their transfer to other countries that could agree to accept them. There are SLA vets around the world. But sending them to Lebanon is entirely inappropriate and may even be considered a war crime.”
Alain Keiruz, a human rights activist and researcher told WND he is calling on Jewish groups to take up the cause of the seven deportees and lobby for their transfer to Israel.
Earlier this month, Israel’s Knesset unanimously approved a bill granting immediate citizenship to all SLA vets who fled to Israel from Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Canada has been granting work permits to exotic dancers as part of a federal plan to recruit overseas workers. Last year, 661 work permits were issued or renewed for foreign exotic dancers, and Canada is expected to grant more than 3,000 this year, although there has been talk of ending the program.
Immigration agents in 2003 selected dancers from portfolios that showed past work experience, a legitimate dancing job offer and usually a publicity photo. A large majority came from Romania, partly because a study showed many female Romanian immigrants were well educated and demanded few public services, analysts say.
The policy has generated some controversy. Critics say the women are exploited and pressured to perform sexual services. Many of the immigrants come to clubs in Toronto, where they strip on stage and perform private dances at customers’ tables or in “VIP rooms” for extra tips.
Keiruz said, “It’s absurd that Canada is giving preferential treatment to thousands of strippers, and yet they are quickly sending seven SLA vets into enemy hands in Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon.”