Free Jaggi Singh

| May 4, 2001

Open Letter to Paul Bégin, Minister of Justice, Quebec

Jaggi Singh is being held without bail in a Quebec prison for what appears to us to be political reasons.

The most serious charge against Jaggi Singh is possession of a weapon - a 7.6-metre catapult that hurled teddy bears. Evidence during the bail hearing, which the judge himself called credible, showed that the catapult was a theatre prop, not a weapon, and that Mr. Singh had nothing to do with it. The people who did build and use the catapult have come forward and taken responsibility for it.

Why is the Crown continuing to use the weapons charge against Mr. Singh?

The judge used the argument that Jaggi Singh violated outstanding bail conditions relating to an offence that remains untried. The condition required Mr. Singh to leave a protest as soon as it turns violent.

Does violation of bail conditions on a minor charge justify imprisoning Jaggi Singh without bail?

The judge has now ruled that Jaggi Singh at least be kept in jail until his trial, which could be as long as three months away. There was no evidence presented at the bail hearing that Mr. Singh committed any violent acts.

Why is Jaggi Singh the sole person who was arrested during the protests who is still in jail?

Keeping someone in jail without bail pending a trial is usually reserved for the most dangerous offenders.

Why does the Crown believe that Jaggi Singh, who has never been convicted of any violent offense, is dangerous enough to be kept in prison?

We the undersigned demand answers to these questions. We fear that Jaggi Singh is being held behind bars for political rather than criminal reasons. Until we receive satisfactory answers to our questions, we can only assume that the imprisonment of Jaggi Singh is a serious breach of civil liberties that threatens freedom of political expression.

We demand an immediate judicial review of the bail decision in the case of Jaggi Singh, so that these and other questions can be answered and the presumption of innocence - central to our Constitution - can be maintained.

Signed,

  • Michael Albert, Z Magazine

  • Warren Allmand, president, Rights and Democracy, former Solicitor General of Canada

  • Tariq Ali, playwright and novelist, London England

  • Maude Barlow, chairperson, Council of Canadians

  • Walden Bello, director, Focus on the Global South

  • Elaine Bernard, executive director, Harvard University Trade Union Program

  • Ed Broadbent, former leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

  • Terry Brown, president, National Action Committee on the Status of Women

  • Noam Chomsky, linguist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Michael Conlon, national chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students

  • Judy Darcy, national president, Canadian Union of Public Employees

  • Anna Dashtgard, anti-globalization activist

  • Francoise Davide, president, Quebec Women's Federation

  • Libby Davis, Member of Parliament

  • Philippe Duhamel, Operation SalAMI

  • Barbara Ehrenreich, writer

  • Ken Georgetti, president, Canadian Labour Congress

  • Lorraine Guay, for the Convergence Table Q2001

  • Robert Jasmin, president, ATTAC-Quebec

  • Naomi Klein, writer

  • David Korten, People-Centred Development Forum

  • Regine Laurent, executive committee, Nurses Federation of Quebec

  • Stephen Lewis, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations

  • Alexa McDonough, leader, New Democratic Party of Canada

  • Madeleine Parent, feminist and labour activist

  • Judy Rebick, publisher, rabble.ca

  • Monique Richard, president, Confederation of Quebec Unions

  • Charley Roach, civil rights activist

  • Kiké Roach, lawyer

  • Svend Robinson, Member of Parliament

  • Clayton Ruby, lawyer

  • Arthur Sanborn, president, Montreal Central Council of the Confederation of National Unions

  • John Sewell, former mayor of Toronto

  • Monique Simard, Alternatives

  • David Suzuki, scientist and activist

  • Bob White, former president of the Canadian Labour Congress

Free Jaggi Singh: sign the rabble-rousers' petition here.

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