"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

We all need to stand up for a Pakistani student facing potential deportation Featured

Zain Haq ; Picture by Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson/The Peak Zain Haq ; Picture by Gudrun Wai-Gunnarsson/The Peak


Gurpreet Singh  

Zain Haq, a 21-year-old international student at Simon Fraser University, has gone into hiding to avoid Canada Border Services agents.  

His "fault" is standing up for humanity, which is under constant danger due to the climate emergency.  

Haq is one of the organizers of Save Old Growth, a civil disobedience movement for climate justice.  

Arrested a few times for being part of protests, he was sentenced to two weeks in jail for criminal contempt of court after violating an injunction against demonstrations at the site of the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. Now, the Border Service agents want Haq to present himself before them.  

Fearing arrest and deportation, he has made himself inaccessible, while his supporters are working hard to find ways to prevent that. After all, he is here on a study permit. A native of Karachi, Pakistan, he apprehends even more hardships if he is sent back to a much more intolerant political environment that is hostile to activism for change.  

It’s a shame that in a country which claims to be a global human rights leader, someone like him has to go underground, just for raising his voice against something that puts each one of us at risk.  

We shouldn’t need to remind our government that it’s a global problem. Not only is Haq’s home country of Pakistan facing severe drought, Canada too is burning. Last year alone, we lost more than 600 human lives in BC due to the heat wave. What crime has Haq done by joining a climate justice action movement? If Canadian citizens can raise their voices for such a noble cause, without fear of being uprooted or exiled, why treat Haq like a criminal or an alien? Decency demands that Haq should instead be treated with respect. He is our hero, and history will prove him right. It’s up to Canada - either do the right thing, or earn disrepute.  



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Gurpreet Singh

Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi


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