22 February, 2006

US Human Right Record : Maher Arar

Maher's Story in Brief

Maher Arar is a 34-year-old wireless technology consultant. Arar was born in Syria and at the age of 17, came to Canada with his family. He became a Canadian citizen in 1991 and in 1997 moved to Ottawa.

In September 2002, Arar was in Tunisia, vacationing with his wife Monia Mazigh and their two small children. On Sept. 26 while in transit in New York’s JFK airport, he was detained by US officials and interrogated about alleged links to al-Qaeda. Twelve days later, he was chained, shackled and flown to Jordan aboard a private plane and from there transferred to a Syrian prison.

In Syria, he was held in a tiny “grave-like” cell for ten months and ten days before he was moved to a better cell in a different prison. He was beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession.

During his imprisonment, Monia campaigned relentlessly on his behalf. After many representations from Canadian Human Rights organizations and a growing number of citizens, the Government of Canada, on Jan. 28, 2004, announced a Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar.