Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Open Letter to Minister of Public Security by Cote-des-Neiges Doctors

INFO: www.justicepouranas.ca

M. Jacques P. Dupuis
Ministre de la Securité publique
10, rue Saint-Antoine Est
Bureau 11.39
Montréal (Québec)
H2Y 1E

Montreal, July 17 2007

As family physicians and residents in family medicine working in the Côte-des-Neiges community, we wish to express our concern about the death of Mohamed Anas Bennis. This young man was shot twice by a Montreal police officer on December 1, 2005 near the corner of Kent and Côte-des-Neiges in circumstances that remain obscure. The crown prosecutor declined to lay charges against the policeman and denied the Bennis family a written copy of his report. Furthermore, Quebec Minister of Public Security, Jacques Dupuis, has refused to make the police report public.

As health professionals working in a multi-ethnic community, we are aware of the negative consequences for mental as well as physical health of “racial profiling” and stereotyping of visible minorities. In the post-911 world of security certificates and “extraordinary renditions” such as in the case of Maher Arar, the Arab and Muslim communities have been a particular target of police and security agency activity. We do not know whether islamophobia and racial profiling played a role in the death of Mohamed Anas Bennis, but given official refusal to release information, this possibility cannot be excluded.

The lack of transparency and suppression of information in this case does not inspire confidence and can only increase the sense of stigmatization felt by local Muslims and other minority groups. We also believe that the Bennis family is entitled to an open and complete investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of their son and brother.

We therefore call for the release of all reports and evidence pertaining to the death of Mohamed Anas Bennis and for the Minister of Public Security to authorize an independent public inquiry into the events surrounding his death, and this with the least possible delay.

Dr. Armand Aalamian, Dr. Pierre Dongier, Dr. Tarek Loubani, Dr. Joey Podavin, Dr. Catherine Beauce, Dr. Marion Dove, Dr. Robert Mahood, Dr. H. Rousseau, Dr. Marie Beauregard, Dr. Bertha Fuchsman, Dr. Jesse McLaren, Dr. H. Shenker, Dr. Nazila Bettache, Dr. Vania Jimenez, Dr. Marie Munoz, Dr. Jean Zigby, Dr. Yen Bui, Dr. Saideh Khadir, Dr. Maria Perrone