October 8, 2019

China to lend Sri Lanka 732m

China Development Bank (CDB) Corporation will lend US$580 million (S$732 million) to Sri Lanka to help implement key infrastructure projects, a government document released on Wednesday showed, according to a Reuters news agency report.The loan will bring CDB’s total lending to Sri Lanka to more than US$1.4 billion. China’s increasing influence in the island nation has stoked concerns in neighbouring India. According to the document, US$300 million of the loan will be spent on developing roads and US$200 million on water supply projects, with the rest going to the national business school. It said CDB had already extended US$652 million for road development projects and US$214 million for an irrigation project.

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October 7, 2019

Fear from two sides BC refugee claimant who helped repair vehicles for

VANCOUVER — At a Canadian immigration hearing a few years ago, refugee claimant Boutros Massroua was asked for his opinion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).“Their members are not human beings,” he answered. “They are worse than animals that kill each other.”Despite this unequivocal response, immigration authorities have repeatedly denied the Lebanese national’s refugee claim on the ground that he was complicit in crimes against humanity because of work he did in 2015 repairing vehicles for the terrorist group.Massroua, 54, who resides in Vancouver with his wife, says the work he performed was brief. He insists he had no idea at first who he was working for and when he finally clued in, it was impossible for him to immediately get out.This introduction surely must have put the claimant on alert that he was, at least, going to a criminal operation of some sortBut in rejecting Massroua’s claim, one adjudicator with the Immigration and Refugee Board said it should have been plainly obvious to him this was an “illegal military group” and that he had ample opportunity to flee. Moreover, had it not been for the repair work he did, “these vehicles would not be returning to Syria with guns on top of them — to shoot unarmed women, children, men of every religion.”Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.As Global News first reported in April, the complicated case is now set to go before the Federal Court of Canada for review. A hearing is scheduled for next month.Massroua recently underwent a change of lawyers. His new lawyer, Amanda Aziz, declined on Monday an invitation to speak to the Post about the case.Lawyers for the federal government say in court papers Massroua has “failed to establish a fairly arguable case” that immigration authorities erred in denying his claim.Massroua’s September 2015 refugee claim begins ominously: “My wife and I fear from two sides: ISIS and Hezbullah.”According to the claim and hearing transcripts, Massroua was approached in December 2014 by a stranger named Abou Mohamad, who needed repairs to his SUV. At the time, Massroua and his wife lived in Zahle, Lebanon, near the Syrian border, and Massroua worked for a small auto repair company. A group of alleged Islamic State group recruits riding in armed trucks in an unknown location in September 2014. Handout/AFP/Getty Images When the job was done, Mohamad offered Massroua a well-paid side gig in the evenings to repair cars and mentor mechanics at another garage. “I had no suspicions at this point,” he wrote.In late February or early March 2015, Massroua says he was taken to a new location — he described it as a hangar — staffed by people with non-Lebanese accents who were reinforcing the floors of jeeps and outfitting their rooftops with metal cases, which he knew were for weapons. None of the vehicles had licence plates.Massroua says he returned to the hangar several times — always taken in their car and never allowed to drive himself. Each time, he was patted down, stripped of his phone and told to remove the cross around his neck. (Massroua is Catholic.)During one visit, he says he was working on a truck when he felt something sticky in the cab. There was blood on the seat and floor, as well as a machine gun.“The smell sort of made me nauseous,” he testified. It was the first time he felt afraid.Massroua says he came up with excuses not to return. He’d say he was sick. But they came to his house carrying guns and pressured him to return to work.I was convinced by then that they were ISISOne time, he says, they took his passport for a day and put a Chinese visa in it and told him to prepare to travel to China because they needed him to pick up something.On three occasions, they took him across the border into Syria to do repairs. He could see and hear shelling in the distance.“I was convinced by then that they were ISIS,” he wrote.The pressure intensified, he says, after he received a visit from a member of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, accusing him of working for ISIL and telling him to quit. He and his wife started making plans to stay with his sister in Canada.Hezbollah members returned again and again, eventually offering to pay him handsomely if he spied on ISIL for them — take photographs and wear a wire.“Hezbollah said that if I did not comply then they would kill both me and my wife,” he wrote.That’s when he and his wife moved temporarily to his wife’s parents home in Beirut. As soon as their passports and visas were ready, they flew to Canada in May 2015, telling their Beirut family they’d be gone a couple of months.A supporting letter written by Massroua’s mother-in-law in Beirut describes the day she discovered their apartment in Zahle had been ransacked. ‘We’re doing nothing’: Canada could be a leader in handling its foreign fighters, but isn’t, say experts B.C. man who ‘glorified’ ISIS terrorism on Facebook issued deportation order from Canada Almost 800 people who survived ISIL now in Canada as refugees: Immigration Minister “The apartment was in chaos,” she wrote. “When I got downstairs, I went to the garage where my daughter parked her car, I noticed that the car windows were smashed.… I immediately called my daughter and told her what had happened and what should I do. Should I call the police? It was then that she told me everything and that she and her husband are under threat of being killed.”Before Massroua’s refugee claim could be assessed, he had to appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board in May 2016 to determine if he was admissible to Canada. He found a sympathetic ear in adjudicator Laura Ko, who determined the short duration of his work for ISIL and “lack of any commitment to the organization’s goals,” did not constitute membership.But in reviewing Massroua’s refugee claim in the fall of 2016, IRB adjudicator Michal Fox was more skeptical, concluding that he met the standard set by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2012 for excluding a refugee claimant from protection because of complicity in international crimes.The Supreme Court decision stemmed from the case of Rachidi Ekanza Ezokola, a former diplomat from the Democratic Republic of Congo who sought refuge in Canada in 2008. The top court ruled that mere association with an organization that commits war crimes was insufficient to deny protection. In order to be excluded, there needed to be “serious reasons for considering that he or she voluntarily made a knowing and significant contribution” to those crimes.Fox said Massroua met that threshold, concluding it would have been impossible for him to not have known he was assisting ISIL the first time he went to the hangar. Massroua was driven into a Sunni area at night, forced to take off his cross, had his phone taken from him and patted down for weapons, Fox said.“This introduction surely must have put the claimant on alert that he was, at least, going to a criminal operation of some sort … something clandestine.”Even after seeing blood and a weapon in a vehicle, Massroua kept returning “over and over,” Fox continued.This is a significant contribution to the entire war effort of ISISTowards the end of her decision, Fox delivered perhaps the most damning line of all: If not for Massroua’s work, “these vehicles would not be returning to Syria with guns on top of them — to shoot unarmed women, children, men of every religion, to blow up buildings, and to keep food from reaching the starving people of Syria. This is a significant contribution to the entire war effort of ISIS.” (Records show Fox did grant Massroua’s wife refugee status after finding she had a well-founded fear.)Last December, Patricia O’Connor of the IRB’s refugee appeal division upheld Fox’s decision, noting that Massroua had chosen for a time to stay put despite having a “safe avenue of escape” and had made a significant contribution to ISIL.In applying to the Federal Court for a judicial review, Massroua’s previous lawyer maintained the mechanic’s work for ISIL was sporadic and done while under duress.He and his wife fled Lebanon “at their earliest opportunity.”• Email: dquan@postmedia.com | Twitter: read more

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