From Hell to Where?

Book Review by Ava Homa:

Review of Mary Jo Leddy’s ‘Our Friendly Local Terrorist’

Suleyman Govan is a Kurd from Dersim who arrives in Canada in 1991. Dersim is the region of Seyit Riza, the Kurdish leader who in 1937 took the noose from his executioners and placed it on his own neck, denying the Turks the final act of control—the leader who confidently announced: “The Kurdish youth will revenge.” In Dersim more than 70,000 Kurds were massacred, justified by Turkey as the quelling of a rebellion of Kurdish “terrorists.”

Suleyman is a relative of Seyit Riza, an Alevi Kurd, one of the youth Riza hoped would rise and claim justice. After being imprisoned and tortured in Turkish prisons, Suleyman gives up on receiving justice in Turkey and migrates to Canada, to a promised land of peace and prosperity.

Upon his arrival, hunger, homelessness and loneliness are his companions. An engineer, Suleyman receives admission from McGill University to pursue his studies, to get his Canadian education, as if he is only eighteen. He has to start from zero.

'Our Friendly Local Terrorist'

‘Our Friendly Local Terrorist’

Sometimes, a person gets fed up with their situation.  Dismayed by its future and too restless to stay, they condense their lives into one or two suitcases and bid farewell to their land and people.  On departure, they leave behind a part of them, a small but significant part of their being and their identity. They do this to find a better life, in the hope of discovering happiness. Is it the same for a Kurd? What can this stateless group expect, people who have such a bitter  history, who have been betrayed by themselves and by others?

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service one day calls Suleyman in. At this point Goven’s request for permanent residency at Canada is pending and thus he cannot attend school. CSIS tells him he has to co-operate. They tell him he is a terrorist unless he agrees to spy on other Kurds.

“Now, Mr. Goven, you realise that if we find you credible and if you co-operate with us, we will recommend you for landed status.”
“Yes. I would like to be landed. I hope to get my engineering degree in Canada so I can work. I have been accepted to go to McGill but I must be landed.”
“We’ll see about that.”
The security officer took off his glasses and squinted. His mouth was tight and he spoke with a discernible French accent. “You are an engineer, Mr. Goven. Now that would qualify you to make bombs, wouldn’t it?”

Our Friendly Local Terrorist recounts Suleyman Goven’s fourteen years of struggle, his torments and his resilience. It is a rare insight into the dark side of the Canadian Government. Canada has become the second home for many immigrants and refugees, but at what price?

The book also sheds light on the Turkish government’s brutality and its ability to hide and deny its crimes. The government influences numerous European and North American countries, to the point that they can continue harassing Kurds long after their physical escape from hell.

The author of this courageous book is a Canadian woman, Mary Jo Leddy, professor of Theology at the University of Toronto and the founder and director of Romero House, a haven for refugees. She is also the author of eight other books. She has sent copies of her exposé to Members of Parliament because she loves Canada too much to stay silent when its leaders give in to power and the politics of injustice.

The narrator’s reasonable, honest and compassionate voice makes the bitter facts of Goven’s life more digestible and less painful. The book is filled with religious allusions. Goven’s tormentors are “The Nameless One,” “The Faceless One,” a reference to Genesis 32:24-27.

Even though Suleyman Goven’s life is saved and he can eventually, after a decade and half of struggle, prove his innocence, Leddy writes this book to raise awareness and prevent others from suffering.

The very title of the book is a smart irony. The dread of “terrorist” is contrasted with the words “local” and “friendly.” Leddy criticizes the arbitrary labelling of innocents as “terrorists,” the profiling, the unfounded accusation that creates tension rather than being a move towards peace.

Leddy sees Suleyman Goven and his persecutors as representatives of different aspects of human existence. She tries to remain what she describes as “life-size.” “To remain life-size in a time of being diminished by terror… is the moral struggle of our era and our world.”

Our Friendly Local Terrorist offers a rare insight into the dark side of the Canadian government and is a recommended read.

Copyright © 2013

One Response to From Hell to Where?
  1. Kuvan Bamarny
    November 11, 2013 | 12:56

    I have a similar brutal story with Canadian secret intelligent agency( CISS) which is full of pain, misery , cruelty and injustice. All I can say is once you deal with Canadian CISS you are stuck forever and you would have no choice either to end up cooperating with them and do what they want ,or you die from torture and pain .Fortunately ,I miraculously survived their deadly attempts against me ,after crying out loudly for help from the whole world ,consistently ,every single day ,for the period of one year and half. I would like to share my story briefly about what I had gone through at the hand of CISS in Canada.
    I flew from Iran and landed in Canada in 2002. Arriving to new country like Canada that is well-known for supporting human rights ,democracy and freedom of choice ,I was hopeful to begin a new meaningful life , where I can live with dignity,in peace,security, so can enjoy my basic human rights and pursue my long time dreams.I was very glad to became permanent resident of Canada.
    At the beginning I enjoyed the life very much in Canada and I started my new life with studying in the hope of obtaining of a university degree and finding a good job to make up a good life that I never had a chance to have in the past.

    I manage to obtained high school diploma at Saint Luis high school.I subsequently started to take university credits to grant admission to university of Waterloo, department of social science, in a city called Kitchener /waterloo.While studying, I became a writer and commentators at the website of Kurdistan tribune and started writing about politics, life, and world and mostly about the political, social and economic situations of Kurdistan.

    Unfortunately ,after I officially published few articles at the website of Kurdistan tribune, a lot of attention had come towards me by the public, and the Canadian government of Kitchener/waterloo. They became curious and started watching me, my daily activities, and put me under surveillance everywhere, indoors and outdoors.

    Both security apparatus of Canada RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounties police and CISS (Canadian intelligent secret services) jointly got me under surveillance. They tapped my cell phone and monitored my internet activities .In addition ,they started tracking me down through satellite singles to find out where I go and whom I associate and speak with .My peace and privacy were invaded by microphone interceptor and hidden camera microchips that I found in my room.

    I made a complaint at the local police station in the city of Kitchener/ waterloo, but the police did not act on my compliant. They told me that I might have been delusional or might suffer from some sort of mental illness like hallucination or schizophrenia.

    After police ignored my complaints, I spoke to the public at the so called freedom of speech square in the city about my situation. I told everyone that the government had been spying on me and violating my constitutional human rights, but things became worst and the government began to apply psychological pressure and torture on me, to muffle my voice. They started from banning me illegally from school, public places, harassing me by masked bikers, gangsters, police dogs. They vandalized my car .Police came to my door without arrest warrant, took my laptop ,digital camera away from me by force , arrested me, and took me to the mental house of Grand river hospital against my free will. My bank credit card were stolen from me.My name and reputation were ruined in the public and they insulted ,humiliated, disrespected and threatened to punched me out if I speak out about all this injustice.

    I reported all these unjust and illegal actions of the government of Kitchener/waterloo to the federal government in Ottawa ,but every time I would make a report and fax it to them in Ottawa ,the provincial government of Kitchener/waterloo would deny everything and would cover it up by making up false stories against me such as, “He is crazy, he hears voices, he is in love with a girl and we want to help him
    to get married or he is not working, or he is a pervert and a dangerous rapist ,or he is on drugs ,or he is a member of a terrorist organization of PKK.” But in reality I would not fit into none of all these false claims. They were just covering up all their illegal actions from the federal government so that they would not be hold accountable for their illegal actions.

    This situation continued until the beginning of the new year of 2013.I lost everything, my school, my part time job, my friends, my constitutional rights and most importantly my health and continued suffering haplessly at the hand of the government of a Kitchener waterloo. However ,I reported my situations to the crew and members of the Kurdistan tribune website in UK and also to the KRG government in Kurdistan but it was not much of help and it would not make the secret services apparatus of Kitchener /waterloo to stop hurting and torturing me.

    In January 15 , right after the assassination of the three Kurdish PKK freedom fighters my picture were morphed with the picture of ,the alleged killer of the three PKK women in France ,Omar Guney, and was published in Hurryat newspaper of Turkey. I was totally devastated and shocked to see that. I reported the situation to UK to the members of Kurdistan tribune website and I sent them both, the picture and the article that were written by the Hurryat columnist named Mustafa Akyol.I also told them that this situation must definitely had connection with my own situation that I had already been going through, at the hand of Canadian secret services in Kitchener/ waterloo.
    After I reported the situation to my own Kurdish fellow members of the Kurdistan tribune website in UK, the secret services apparatus tightened the ring of pressure more and more on me.They basically isolated me from the normal life. They were pushing me to commit suicide, but I resisted the pressure and psychological torture, did not give in and continued contacting my friends in UK.

    In June 23 I had a verbal fight with one of the secret services members of RCMP by the nick name KIM over this issue. He ordered police to arrest me.I was arrested under false claims, illegally and were taken to jail for 3 weeks. After I was released from jail in few days, and while I was walking from a store to home (at around 12 o’clock at night) I was brutally attacked by a secret service agent in down town Kitchener at the corner of church and Frederick street. He attacked me with weapon, knocked me out, broke my head, my mouth and literally cut my lip into two pieces.

    Clearly it was an attempt of murder and he wanted to kill me because he stroke my head with weapon ruthlessly and I bleeed a lot from my injuries. After I came to conscious, I slowly walked down the street towards a police station and asked them to get me an ambulance. They kept me waiting for half an hour until the ambulance arrived. I was taken to Grand River hospital for treatment. I reported the situation to them but they never acted on my complaints and the perpetrator was never arrested or brought to the court.

    After I recovered from my injuries, I went to Kurdish community center in Toronto and explained my situation to them in order to help me and get me a ticket to fly back to Kurdistan, but they could not help me and save my life from the Canadian secret services of Kitchener/waterloo.
    Finally, in July 7th, finally I obtained a ticket to Netherlands rather than Kurdistan because I did not have enough money to fly directly to Kurdistan. I stayed at the house of my cousin in Netherland, for one week. From there ,I contacted my family in Kurdistan to send me some money for another ticket .They sent me some money to obtain another ticket to Kurdistan and that is how I left Netherlands and in July 15th I ended arriving to Kurdistan.

    Considering all the hardships and miseries I went through in Canada , I decided to not go back to Canada for my saftey,and instead I would start a new peaceful life in Kurdistan where hopefully I can feel safe and enjoy my basic human rights.However, I have difficulties settling and start a new life in Kurdistan, because I have been facing a new cruel dilemma since I arrived in Kurdistan.

    Based on false reports and accusations,passed by some Kurdish people from Canada to the Kurdish government ,the Kurdish Government in the city of Duhok have been suspicious about me of being a spy working for western intelligent agencies to promote and defend the cause of Christian minority( Assyrian) in Kurdistan ,without having any solid proof against me.

    The government of Kurdistan /Duhok ,have been giving me hard time ,denying me an opportunity to work and start a new life in Kurdistan.They are rather telling me to go back to Canada.All my work applications have been neglected and they continously have been telling me to leave Kurdistan.

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