On Friday 20 January, the fifth anniversary of the illegal rendition of a Canadian citizen Bashir Makhtal from Kenya to Ethiopia, family, friends and human right supporters will be holding a vigil outside the Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office in the Langevin Block to draw attention to his plight.
Bashir Makhtal, originally from the Ogaden region of Ethiopia was arrested at the Kenya-Somalia border in December 2006 and flown in shackles to Ethiopia in January 2007. After 18 months without access to a lawyer or consular officials he was eventually of accused of providing support to an armed group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). He was sentenced to life imprisonment after a grossly unfair trial in 2009. In the absence of credible evidence, the basis for the charges seemed to be the role his grandfather played in the founding of the ONLF decades ago.
Supporters of Bashir Makhtal will bring their concerns about his illegal rendition and unfair trial to the attention of Prime Minister Harper. They will be renewing the call that has been repeatedly made for his direct intervention with the Ethiopian government on this case.