Protestors Fail To Support Disabled Refugee Claimant

Protesters fail to support disabled refugee claimant
Temple president disappointed at lack of funds for paralysed man

Kim Bolan,
Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, December 17, 2007

Just last week, supporters of a paralysed refugee claimant vowed to care for him forever, as they prevented his deportation at Vancouver International Airport.

But on the weekend, Laibar Singh was moved for a third time in six days after those same supporters decided they couldn't care for the severely disabled man any more.

Singh is now at Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh temple, its president Balwant Singh Gill confirmed Sunday.

Gill said the New Westminster temple where Singh had been taken last Monday didn't want him there any more.

Singh's deportation to India was halted by the Canada Border Services Agency a week ago after a massive airport protest, at which several leaders pledged to cover Singh's medical expenses for as long as he remains here.

Yet Gill, who was not at the protest, said no one has offered his temple any of the funds raised to care for the wheelchair-bound man.

“I am disappointed that all the guys who went to the airport to make big speeches have completely backed off,” Gill said. “They didn't give any money to us to help him.”

Gill said his temple is doing what it can to care for the 48-year-old, who arrived in Canada on a false passport in 2003 and last year suffered an aneurism that left him a quadriplegic.

Singh was ordered deported in June, but Gill said the temple wants to make another legal challenge in an attempt to get permission to keep Singh in Canada.

“We are just trying to help him. We won't break any laws.”

Gill planned to contact the CBSA to let officials know Singh is now at the Surrey temple and that his congregants have no plans to hold the kind of blockade that occurred last Monday, tying up airport traffic for hours.

A volunteer has stayed with Singh 24 hours a day since last July, when he was whisked away from a Vancouver long-term care facility from which he was about to be deported.

Gill said the volunteer stays in the same room with Singh and tends to all his needs.

Up until Dec. 10, Singh had been at Abbotsford's Kalgidhar Darbar temple, but he was taken to the New Westminster temple after the airport protest.

“If we take him back, we're afraid CBSA will come in the night and say 'let's grab that guy when nobody is looking,'” Kalgidhar temple president Swarn Singh explained at the rally.

In fact, Singh was moved to Guru Nanak temple about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, Gill confirmed.

He said his temple decided to assume care for Singh “because we heard rumours that the New Westminster temple was refusing to keep him there.”

One of those who backed away from the Singh campaign is Harpal Singh Nagra, president of the South Asian Human Rights Group.

Nagra had travelled to Ottawa in October with others in his group to meet with MPs about Singh's case.

Nagra is a controversial figure who founded the International Sikh Youth Federation, a terrorist group banned in Canada in June 2003.

Nagra won his own refugee case 10 years ago after the Immigration and Refugee Board accepted his claim that he left the ISYF in May 1986 after some of its members were arrested in the brutal beating of Ujjal Dosanjh as well as in a political assassination plot.

The immigration department fought against allowing Nagra to stay, but lost its case in the Federal Court in 1999.