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According to a report in La Presse and Radio Canada, at 6am this morning, Montreal police arrived at the home of Quebec MNA Amir Khadir and his wife, Nima Machouf, with arrest and search warrants. They arrested the couple's daughter, Yalda Machouf-Khadir, and her partner, Xavier Beauchamp. The two are among 11 student activists arrested in early morning police raids in the city.
The newspaper and Radio Canada's televison cameras just happened to be on hand to witness the police raid and capture visual images of Yalda Machouf-Khadir being led away in handcuffs. (A second-hand, English language report of the arrests is published here in the Montreal Gazette.)
Following the arrests, police proceeded to search the Khadir home. According to La Presse, an angry Nima Machouf shouted at police, "I am going to watch you and make sure you do not ransack my home or humiliate my family and this neighbourhood."
Yalda Machouf-Khadir is a student at CEGEP (junior college) Vieux Montreal and has been arrested twice on non-criminal accusations since the beginning of the student strike. Her mother says the arrest warrant pertained to alleged defacing of the constituency office of former Minister of Education Line Beauchamp. The accusations this time are under terms of the Criminal Code.
Two lawyers for Yalda Machouf-Khadir say they are perplexed by the police operation. They told La Presse, "It's clear that this police operation was directed from above. Why arrest these young people at the very moment that the Grand Prix is about to run and demonstrations have been announced? To dissuade demonstrators? Or provoke them?"
"Next week, the chief justice [of the Supreme Court of Quebec] will hear an application contesting Bill 78 and Montreal regulation P-6 [which makes the wearing of a mask at a public event declared by police to be "illegal" to be a criminal act--RA] in the case of Anarchopanda [an individual who dresses as a panda bear and attends student marches--RA]. If there is trouble during the weekend, that could give further arguments on the government's and city's side. So it is strange timing."
Several groups have announced demonstrations to take place directly at the site of the Montreal Grand Prix this weekend, including the anarchist group 'Anti-Capitalist Convergence.'
Another group, in what is possibly some comic relief, has submitted the itinerary of its desired march to police, in conformity with Bill 78. The requested locale for its march is on the Gilles Villeneuve Racetrack where the Grand Prix will run!
Roger Annis is a social justice activist and writer based in Vancouver, BC.