Members of the Women Peace and Security Network – Canada are concerned about the safety of WHRD Noura Aljizawi . Please add your voice, and the voice of your network or organization, to let the Canadian government know that the world is watching. Canada must show more transparency and accountability in its support of female human rights defenders within its own borders. It must walk its talk and commitments.
- In 2016, Canada rolled out the red carpet for Noura to come to Canada as an expert. In its letter justifying the expediting of her visitor visa, it explicitly stated “Canada is actively engaged in supporting credible Syrian opposition figures in their efforts to end the civil war in their country and to usher in a peaceful political transition. Canada’s support is both diplomatic and monetary…In addition to this monetary support, Canada is enhancing its diplomatic efforts to support the Syrian opposition.”
- In 2022, Noura provided testimony over three days to officials from the Netherlands and Canada to support their case against Syria at the International Court of Justice. This was filed in June 2023. She risked her life to give this testimony and was not offered witness protection as were some others globally. Her life is further endangered as a result.
- Today, Canada is telling Noura that she is a threat to national security under section 34 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act BECAUSE she was opposing the regime.
Noura Aljizawi is a Syrian woman pro-democracy human rights defender who has been in exile from Syria for participating in protests, and mobilizing masses for peace and human rights.
In exile, Noura is a peace activist and researcher, and was a part of the Syrian peace talks in 2014. She continues to write about transnational oppression. Noura currently resides in Canada with her 5-year-old Canadian born daughter and husband. We are in fear that her life could be in danger; even in Canada and need Canadian officials to act.
After an unusually lengthy delay on her and her spouse’s express entry permanent residency application in Canada, we have learned that Canadian intelligence agencies are trying to consider Noura as a threat to national security under S.34 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). This clause allows intelligence authorities in Canada to detain without a legal process or deport someone without disclosing any evidence and without any check and balance. It is a clause that has been used in Canada to disproportionately target Muslims and human rights defenders. It is also a clause that is being used to rip families apart.
Noura’s life is an open book and she is no stranger to the Canadian government. Her organization Start Point – a gender justice organization in Syria has received funding from Canada in the last few years. Additionally last year, Noura spent three days providing witness testimony to Canadian and Dutch officials for a case which was filed at the International Court of Justice in early June 2023. This case is alleging human rights violations against Syria. Noura was not provided witness protection for risking her life by participating.
There is a concern Noura is being targeted by many regimes, she regularly receives threats and even her family in Syria, with whom she has had to go no contact, is regularly held hostage and tortured to try to lure her back.
Canadian officials have used Noura and are now threatening her wellbeing as well as separation from her family with a potential deportation. Their requests have been unreasonable and bizarre at times where they even asked Noura for a criminal record check from Syria.
The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Ministers of Public Safety, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and the Department of Justice are all aware of Noura’s situation, but are not acting and remain silent.
Noura’s family lives in constant fear. An attempt in January 2023 to potentially detain her by Canada’s Border Services Agency (CBSA) had intervention from civil society behind the scenes and the meeting was halted. However, without a decision on her status, Noura remains in limbo. She is living in mental angst. We are publicly sharing this case to protect Noura’s life.
Canada needs to accord Noura respect, dignity and status. Canada has a Voices at Risk Guidelines, is an active implementer of the Women Peace and Security Agenda, and is a signatory to fundamental human rights treaties. It needs to positively demonstrate these commitments by supporting Noura’s stay in Canada.
Noura is an asset to both Canada and the world, to peace movements and justice globally. She continues to risk her life for her work on democracy and human rights. We need to unite our voices and demand positive action.
RELATED: Voices at Risk: Canada’s Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders (Global Affairs Canada, 2019)
A Call to Action: What you can do to help
1. Write a letter of concern to Canadian leadership. Include in this:
- Your name, your title, your organization, location and even areas in which you work.
- Why you believe it is important to protect WHRDs
- Why this case is concerning for you
- Reference Canadian commitments nationally and internationally
- Confirm that you and your colleagues are watching the case closely
- Express concern, disappointment, and demand positive action
Please send your letters to the following officials
|Prime Minister Justin Trudeaufirstname.lastname@example.org||@justintrudeau|
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
|Marco E. L. Mendicino,|
Minister of Public Safety
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
|Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill|
Women Peace and Security
|Melanie Joly |
Minister of Foreign Affairs
If you are based outside of Canada, notify your elected officials of your concerns and ask for your country to ask for accountability.