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Bring Them Home: Free the Canadian Muslim Men, Women and Kids Illegally Detained in NE Syria

February 14 @ 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Join a Valentine’s Day Vigil at Global Affairs Canada (125 Sussex Ave.) to free two dozen Canadian Muslim men, women and children are illegally detained under conditions akin to torture in “Guantanamo in the Desert,” a vast sandscape of arbitrary detention camps and prisons holding over 50,000 detainees, over half of them children.
While Canada has brought home several dozen of the detainees only after public pressure and court action, it has refused to bring the remainder home. Canada has also tried to forcibly separate Canadian children from their non-Canadian born mothers.
The Autonomous Administration of Northeast Syria (AANES), which holds the detainees, has begged the international community to repatriate their citizens and empty these camps and prisons. While much smaller and less resourced countries than Canada have taken back their citizens (and Canada itself funds the repatriation of Iraqis) it has spent years in court trying to prevent the final return of the remaining two dozen Canadians.
One of the detainees is Jack Letts. As an idealistic and compassionate 18-year-old, Jack traveled to Syria to assist victims of the Assad regime’s brutal war against its own people, and was caught up in the chaos that followed. He condemned ISIS in messaging from within the IS ‘state’, was prosecuted for opposing their teachings, and after risking his life to escape, has been held almost 7 years in brutal conditions.
Jack has not been charged with any crime, and no evidence has been presented that he did anything wrong. In January 2023, the Federal Court of Canada concluded neither he nor the other men seeking repatriation had been involved in violence or illegal acts. If they were, then they would no doubt be happy to face a fair, transparent, open opportunity to face any allegations in court.
In fact he has been victimized by the wrongs of others: a victim of a libelous press, slanderous politicians and an Islamophobic political climate under which horrific yet baseless allegations have been thrown against him with no meaningful and safe opportunity to respond; a victim of a cowardly UK government that illegally stripped him of his citizenship, and of a Canadian government that promised to bring him home and has subsequently spent years refusing to do so; a victim of arbitrary detention and conditions tantamount to torture; a victim of extended periods of solitary confinement; a victim of a world that headlines hate and profits from dehumanization.
Arbitrary Detention is a crime. Complicity in torture is a crime. Canada must end its involvement in these crimes by bringing everyone home.
Before flower sellers and Hallmark Cards discovered it, St. Valentine’s Day was a time to remember all those unjustly persecuted and jailed. St. Valentine was a priest who was persecuted, tortured, jailed and decapitated by Roman Emperor Claudius because Valentine defied the prohibition on conducting marriages for young people. Claudius was concerned that married men would be less willing to give their lives in battle. Valentine’s last note from prison, “from your Valentine,” eventually became the basis for Valentine greetings.


February 14
11:30 am - 12:30 pm


Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture


Foreign Affairs Canada
Ottawa, + Google Map