Shock as Canada rejects Iraq refugees
Instead of joining kin here, applicants directed to ancestors' homeland
Jun 23, 2008 04:30 AM
Azad Sarkissian's Armenian great-grandparents settled in Iraq more than a century ago, and none of their descendants has stepped on Armenian soil since.
His sister and her family fled the violence in Iraq and are living precariously as United Nations-recognized refugees in Jordan. Sarkissian, in Toronto, has tried and failed three times over the past six years to bring them to Canada through a refugee resettlement application sponsored by the Assyrian Methodist Church of Canada.
But they were startled and angered by the latest response by a Canadian visa officer in Damascus, who said the family should go to Armenia instead.
"We were shocked by the decision," said Sarkissian, a telecommunications technician who came to Canada as a regular immigrant in 1997 and is a Canadian citizen. "They have nobody in Iraq or Armenia. Everyone else is in Canada. Why would Canada want to separate our family?"
Don't you love the guilt trip? Canada didn't separate his family, he did when he willingly chose to come to Canada.
Anjeal Sarkissian, her husband Karabet Aram, and their three boys, Shant, Agob and Apel, are what refugee advocates say are part of a worrisome trend as a growing number of Armenian Christian refugees from Iraq are being rejected and asked to go to Armenia despite having family connections in Canada. "We are surprised and concerned that the possibility of residency in Armenia is being used as a basis to refuse these applications," said Janet Dench, of the Canadian Council for Refugees.
Why is it a concern? What's wrong with expecting Armenians to seek asylum in, well, Armenia? It seems the Canadian Council for Refugees is staffed by lunatics. They are concerned that "the possibility of residency in Armenia is being used as a basis to refuse these applications." Did you get that? Who are these people?
The treatment of Armenian Iraqis reminds Toronto immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges of how Jewish refugees fleeing the Soviet Union after its collapse in the 1990s were denied refugee status and told to resettle in Israel instead.
The problem being?
Get the feeling the refugee system is being used for immigration purposes? What's laughable about this is that these Armenians will come to Canada and be Armenians while living in Canada and be proud of being from Armenia. They'll be Armenian-Canadians. Why don't they just resettle in Armenia and be Armenians living in Armenia. Or is that just crazy talk?
Canada is right to expect asylum seekers to seek asylum in their lands of ancestry or in culturally similar lands. The refugee system should not be another avenue for immigration purposes.