'Two are safe, five are not'
TORONTO, March 25, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - This evening a plane carrying Vanessa Rodel and her 7-year-old daughter Keana will land at Toronto's Pearson airport. It is the partial culmination of a saga that began in 2013 when Rodel, her daughter and five other asylum seekers sheltered Edward Snowden, at the time the most wanted man in the world.
Rodel's application to come to Canada as a privately sponsored refugee was filed in 2016 by non-profit For the Refugees. That application was finally approved by the Canadian government in January, but the decision was kept secret until now for security reasons. The other five refugees, whose applications were submitted at the same time, remain in limbo in Hong Kong as they wait for their approvals. These vulnerable refugees face documented threats of torture and death if returned to their home countries, according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations.
"Two are safe, five are not," said Marc-André Séguin, president of For the Refugees. "We're deeply grateful to the government of Canada for getting Vanessa and Keana to safety, and now we need them to finish the job."
"Hong Kong is in the process of changing their laws to strip asylum seekers of their due process rights," said Ethan Cox, a spokesperson with For the Refugees. "Any further delay in processing the paperwork for the other five refugees could have deadly consequences."
"Canada has done a great thing here, giving a home to a brave woman and her young daughter," said Cristina Rogov, a lawyer with For the Refugees. "But the clock is still ticking for three other refugees and their two small children. Like Vanessa Rodel, they have been targeted due to their association with Snowden, and like Vanessa Rodel, their lives are in Canada's hands. It's time for Justin Trudeau to cut through the red tape and get them to safety."
Rob Tibbo, the Hong Kong lawyer for the families, added, "After seven years of fighting for the Snowden Refugees' rights and freedoms, today the family of Vanessa and Keana have flown out of Hong Kong, finally leaving behind a world of racism, discrimination, exclusion and persecution. They are en route to Canada, where they will finally find safety and freedom in an inclusive society."
"I ask Mr. Trudeau to bring an end to the nightmare the remaining Snowden Refugees are experiencing in Hong Kong," added Tibbo, "by simply bringing them all to Canada now."
As privately sponsored refugees, their resettlement costs are borne by the non-profit. For the Refugees is funded by tens of thousands of small-dollar donors, who donated $149,933.60 CAD last year, the majority of which went to cover the living expenses of the families in Hong Kong. The non-profit is run by a volunteer board and has no permanent staff.
Background on the case is available at fortherefugees.com.
SOURCE For the Refugees
For further information: 514-662-0070 - Ethan Cox, spokesperson with For the Refugees