Once More, Without Feeling

Does anyone care to guess how sad and tired it makes me to continually be making posts about Canadian citizens in trouble abroad whose government refuses to help them?

Because yes, that's what I'm writing about today. Shaker Unree sent me this link to an article at The Nation. I'll quote the lede and the second para, you can read the rest over there.
In most countries, a woman in her mid-20s is legally an adult. And in most countries, foreigners are free to leave when they like. In its flagrant rejection of these two principles, Saudi Arabia is unique, and that is a big problem for 24-year-old Nazia Quazi.

For more than two years Nazia, an IT specialist who graduated from the University of Ottawa and holds dual Canadian-Indian citizenship, has been trying to leave Riyadh and go home to Canada. Her troubles began on November 23, 2007, when she entered Saudi Arabia with her parents on a visitor's visa. In Saudi Arabia, foreign visitors must have a sponsor, a local man who handles their paperwork. Nazia's sponsor is her father, Quazi Malik Abdul Gaffar, an Indian citizen who has worked in Saudi Arabia for many years. At some point Nazia's father clandestinely switched her visitor's visa to a more permanent visa--one that requires that he, as her sponsor, approve her exit visa. This he refuses to do. No exit visa, no departure. Worse, Nazia says he has confiscated both her Indian and Canadian passports and all her identity documents--driver's license, health card, credit cards and so on--and refuses to return them. She is trapped.

So, are we getting this? Canadian woman is detained by her patriarch, using Saudi Arabia's misogynistic "cultural values" as the reason for detention.

And the Canadian government, as usual, takes a brave stand in favour of the patriarchy, that this physically and emotionally abusive asshole has the right to imprison his daughter because, well, it was his sperm that made her, after all, so obviously he gets to own her Forever and Ever, All-men.


So, what can you do, Shakers?

I have a number of suggestions.

I'd start with this listing, of the Saudi Embassies around the world. You could write a polite but firm letter letting them know the eyes of the world are on them. I recommend strongly that you do, in fact, make sure it's a polite letter. After many years of experience writing such letters in my connection with Amnesty International, I can tell you if you're rude, they'll just throw your letter away. Seriously.

But the Saudis aren't the only ones complicit in this appalling violation of human rights. You can find the locations of Canadian embassies and consulates here, and Indian embassies and consulates here. If you're not Canadian, I suggest writing a similar polite but firm letter to your nearest Canadian embassy or consulate.

If you're Canadian, you'll want the contact information for your local MP, which you can find here in English, or here in French (on a deux langues officielles en Canada).

If you're Indian, your Members of Parliament can be found through this page.

Teaspoons up, Shakers.

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