Nineteen Doctors Speak Out in Favor of Justice for Mohamed Anas Bennis

The following from the Justice for Anas coalition:

HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS DEMAND JUSTICE FOR ANAS BENNIS!

Medical Doctors from the Cote-des-Neiges neighborhood call upon Public Security Minister to uncover mystery surrounding death of young man killed by Montreal police

Montreal, July 17th 2007

Physicians from the Cote-des-Neiges community have called upon Minister of Public Security and Justice Jacques Dupuis to release all information surrounding the death of Mohamed Anas Bennis, a 25 year-old Canadian of Moroccan heritage, shot by Montreal police on December 1st 2005 in Cote-des-Neiges, just minutes from his home.

In an open letter to Quebec Minister of Public Security and Justice Jacques Dupuis (see below), the group of nineteen medical doctors working in the Cote-des-Neiges neighborhood demanded that all the evidence and reports surrounding the death of Anas Bennis be released to the family and the public while calling for a public inquiry into the events leading to Anas’ death.

The open letter declares : “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.”

The police claim that Anas had attacked them with a kitchen knife, but over a year later, they have failed to produce either the knife, the security video which filmed the events leading to Anas’ death, or proof of the injuries that the officer supposedly sustained. Despite their efforts, the Bennis family has not been able to see this evidence or to receive copies of the prosecutor’s report or the police report regarding Anas’ death.

As Minister of Public Security and Minister of Justice, Jacques Dupuis has the power to release the police and prosecutor’s reports to the Bennis family and to the public. The Bennis family and their supporters have made numerous attempts to meet with Mr. Dupuis about this case, but so far the Minister has ignored them.

The three demands of the Coalition Justice for Anas, created to support the Bennis family in December 2006, have already been endorsed by over 35 community organizations, including several groups in Cote-des-Neiges. Their voices are joined by those of health care providers in the neighborhood today, reinforcing the call for:

  1. the immediate release of all reports, evidence and information concerning the death of Anas Bennis to the Bennis family and to the public;
  2. a full, public and independent inquiry into the death of Anas Bennis;
  3. an end to police brutality and impunity.

Here is the letter, signed by 19 doctors who work in Cote-des-Neiges, a mixed class and heavily immigrant neighbourhood in Montreal:

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.

Sincerely,
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

Monsieur Jacques P. Dupuis
Ministre de la Sécurité publique
10, rue Saint-Antoine Est, bureau 11.39
Montréal (Québec)
H2Y 1E2

Montréal, le 17 Juillet 2007

En tant que médecins et résidents en pratique familiale travaillant dans la communauté de
Côte-des-Neiges, nous aimerions manifester notre inquiétude au sujet de la mort de Mohamed Anas Bennis. Ce jeune homme a été atteint de deux balles tirées par un officier de police le 1er décembre 2005, près de l’intersection Kent et Côte-des-Neiges, dans des circonstances qui demeurent obscures. L’avocat de la Couronne a refusé de porter une accusation contre l’officier de police qui a tiré ou de remettre à la famille Bennis une copie du rapport. D’autre part, le ministre de la Sécurité publique du Québec, monsieur Jacques Dupuis, a refusé de rendre public le rapport de police.

En tant que professionnels de la santé travaillant au sein d’une communauté multi-ethnique, nous sommes conscients des conséquences négatives que le “profilage racial” et que l’utilisation de stéréotypes relativement aux “minorités visibles” peuvent avoir sur la santé mentale mais aussi sur la santé physique des personnes concernées. Dans le monde d’après le 11 septembre 2001, celui des “certificats de sécurité” et des ‘extraditions extraordinaires’ (transfert de prisonniers pour les soumettre à des interrogatoires sous la torture), utilisés par exemple dans le cas de Maher Arar, les communautés arabes et musulmanes sont devenues des cibles prioritaires de la police et des agences de renseignement. Nous ne savons pas si l’islamophobie ou le “profilage racial” ont contribué à la mort de Mohamed Anas Bennis, mais devant le refus manifesté par les autorités de fournir des informations à se sujet, nous croyons qu’une telle possibilité ne peut être rejetée.

Nous croyons que le manque de transparence et le refus de dévoiler des informations dans ce cas n’inspirent pas confiance et ne peuvent qu’accroître le sentiment d’être persécutés qu’éprouvent les musulmans et les autres groupes minoritaires de ce quartier. Nous croyons également que la famille Bennis a le droit de s’attendre à ce qu’une enquête ouverte et complète fasse la lumière sur les circonstances qui ont conduit à la mort de la personne qui était leur fils ou leur frère.

Nous demandons, par conséquent, la divulgation de tous les rapports et de toutes les preuves relatifs à la mort de Mohamed Anas Bennis, et que le ministre de la Sécurité publique autorise une enquête publique sur les événements liés à la mort de ce jeune homme et que cela soit réalisé dans les délais les plus brefs.

Veuillez agréer, Monsieur, l’expression de nos sentiments les meilleurs.

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

sketchythoughtssketchythoughtssketchythoughts

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