Former Amnesty International Canada Director Roger Clark: “Let’s Not Allow another Wrongful Extradition of Dr Hassan Diab” (Part 1)

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Zeinab Merai, Sada al-Mashrek


“When Hassan returned to Canada and was teaching at Carleton again, the enrolment in his class was huge,” says Professor Roger Clark, a member of the “Justice for Hassan Diab Support Committee”, “partly because, I suppose, he was famous in some ways, but I think also he’s found that both at Carleton University and Ottawa University there’s been strong student support.”

Addressing “Sada al-Mashrek” on Dr Hassan Diab’s wrongful case, the spirited eighty-two-year-old activist explains that “when Hassan returned to Canada in January of 2018, it was as an innocent man. There was a decision in France that there was no case to be brought against him.”   

But the groups that have tried to scapegoat him earlier are again trying to frame him for the 1980 bombing near the rue Copernic synagogue in Paris.


A gruelling process

Since October 2007, the sixty-seven-year-old sociology professor has had to go through a gruelling process to prove he is innocent of that accusation. He was initially intimidated, deprived of his university position and held in detention for nearly 5 months and had to live in house arrest.

Later on, France demanded, on the basis of false evidence as well, that the researcher and instructor be extradited, and certainly Canada didn’t have the guts to refuse to cooperate even though France does not extradite its own citizens. Over three years of Diab’s lifetime were wasted in prison, too.

Though Diab and his family have resumed their life resiliently, supported by a group of experienced, loving friends, the case is based on troubling secret intelligence that might – God forbid – provoke another extradition to France.


Again it’s about racial profiling

A powerful statement by the “Justice for Hassan Diab” organisation reads, “The contemporary climate of ethnic, racial, and religious profiling means that Hassan, like many other Canadians of Middle-Eastern origin, is becoming yet another victim in the global “war on terror”.”

This is the case indeed. In a series of analytical articles published by “Sada al-Mashrek” and titled “How Does Global Islamophobia Industry Influence the Canadian One?”, I have discussed this growing dilemma and presented multiple accounts; I have even had to narrow down the examples because there are simply too many.  

And recently, renowned writer and political activist Yves Engler has reminded in an article he titled “Afghanistan reveals legacy of Canadian imperialism” that “Former Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper declared that the biggest threat to Canada was “Islamicism”—which justified secret trials and deportation to torture, and domestic surveillance, and state-sanctioned Islamophobia continues to fuel attacks on Muslim communities.”

Professor Roger Clark, who has carried out human-rights missions in Algeria (as well as other countries around the world) and spent two years with his teacher wife in Qatar, learning more about the Arab World and witnessing some attacks on Ghaza, has spared a good deal of time to provide “Sada al-Mashrek” with enlightening insights into the unfortunate but captivating story of Dr Hassan Diab.

Zionist Lobby at play

Asked whether pressure been exercised by lobbyists, particularly by Israeli or Zionist lobbyists, Clark says, “Yes. I would use the word Zionist in this case to draw a sort of distinction; it would imply a certain extremism; it was certainly true in 2009 in Canada, when Hassan was allowed to go back to Carleton University through a bail process… B’nai B’rith in fact got in touch with the university and said that it was unacceptable that an “accused terrorist” should be teaching students in the Canadian university, and the very next day, Hassan was dismissed.

So there is that intervention that took place then, we see it playing out very strongly now in Paris during the three years plus two months that Hassan spent in prison and even since then. So also as we’ve got in the time for the appeals, the appeal court, even Hassan’s release and return to Canada, a number of the Zionist groups and representatives in Paris have been very vocal in expressing their horror that Hassan is apparently “getting away with it”, as they would put it, and we’ve used the term scapegoat quite often to talk about Hassan, largely because there is this sort of determination that comes out particularly among the Zionist groups in France, and to some degree probably also in Canada, though not so publicly.

But still, in France, the Zionist groups have made no secret of the fact that they want somebody to be condemned and that somebody, in their mind, is Hassan, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary.”


“Creating Public Sensitivity”

Clark, who was born just a month or two before the Second World War, in June of 1939, believes it is essential to say “anything right now to reinforce the notion that we are pushing really hard right now, that we believe what is important is that Hassan’s persecution has to come to an end, whatever that means is; essentially that the whole process in France needs to be concluded and set aside…

And if there’s a call for extradition for a second time, it is essential that it be absolutely refused and turned down, and not even be considered.”

On September 20th, the support committee launched a major campaign to approach parliamentarians. The committee members have reached out to “the wide network of supporters: several thousand people across Canada, asking them to approach the candidates, make phone calls, talk to their neighbours, and raise these issues as things that people interested in becoming elected might be able to support,” explains Clark, adding he had “worked on a series of questions that people could ask if able to ask a question at the local candidates’ meeting, for example.”

“But it’s very difficult because these meetings are very tightly controlled, and just because you turn up with a good question doesn’t mean that you’re going to get a chance to ask it… But we’ve sent that out as a guidance; we really want to push very, very hard,” warns the veteran activist, who was awarded the 2002 Order of Canada membership for his role in Amnesty International and the advancement of human rights locally and abroad.

“It’s my view that this is an opportunity to create a public sensitivity to the possibility that Hassan might be extradited for a second time… Anybody who knows anything about the case knows very well what Hassan is facing, and I think even the average less-informed members of the public would understand very quickly the failure of the Canadian and the French justice systems to help Hassan and would support him,” believes Clark, now having been involved in Diab’s case for about six years.

“My life has been turned upside down because of unfounded allegations and suspicions. I am innocent of the accusations against me. I have never engaged in terrorism. I have never participated in any terrorist attacks. I am not an anti-Semite. I have always been opposed to bigotry and violence,” Dr Hassan Diab once said in an Ottawa press conference.

Why would any thoughtful person not do something to give a hand to Dr Diab? Certainly none of us would like to see this happening to a son, brother or father.

To be continued...
Part 2 here: صدى المشرق (