For Immediate Release - September 24th 2012 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada (le franÃ§ais suite la version anglaise)
Adolescent Assaulted for Speaking English in Public
OQLA Calls for Federal Government Protection for Minority Language Rights after Recent Incidents
We have recently witnessed an escalation in language-based discrimination that has steadily resurfaced, prior to and after the election of the Parti QuÃ©bÃ©cois (PQ) earlier this month, directed towards Montrealers speaking English.
We have seen videos of several incidents of verbal harassment,even in front of McGill University. Now we see something new. On the evening of Sept 22nd, around 9pm, Mr. G., aged 17, was walking around the block with his cousins in St-Leonard, Montreal. When he and his four cousins turned the corner, they came face to face with a young adult male holding a mobile phone who stated to them â??what are you looking at, youâ??re not allowed to speak English hereâ?? (quâ??est que tu regardes, tâ??as pas le droit de parler en anglais icite) forcing himself onto them. Mr. G. ignored the statement, pushed the man away so they could continue walking, then the man proceeded to assault G. with two punches to his face â?? all this for simply speaking with his cousins in English. Although they were in a group, the male proceeded to reach into his pocket for something; so the group fled the scene to avoid a confrontation.
Mr. G. was brought home and his mother immediately called the ambulance and filed a report with the police (Reference number: 42-120923-017, Constable on Patrol: Flores). The perpetrator has neither been caught nor arrested, but a full description was given to the officer from Station 42 of the Montreal Police.
Photos below are of the victimâ??s eye after the incident:
Five days prior to this incident, Mr. G.â??s mother - a member of the advocacy group Quebec Office of the English Language - met with prominent political figures on behalf of the Office, received a threat. The mysterious caller said, "Stop what you are doing or else.â?
The Criminal Code of Canada states that hate crime occurs through acts that intimidate, harm or terrify not only a person, but an entire group of people to which the victim belongs. The hate crime provisions of the Code are meant to protect victims who are targeted for who they are, and simply because they are members of a particular ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural group.
â??Any abuses toward any individual based on ethnic, linguistic, religious, or cultural group are in violation of the U.N. Human Rights Article 19 concerning freedom of expression and article 27, the denial of minority rights.â? Stated Hugo Shebbeare spokesman of the Quebec office of the English language
Shebbeare continued, â??We, as Canadian citizens, having been the victims of decades of marginalization and nullification on the question of language, now call upon the Federal Government to bring to bear the full measure of its powers, through the Federal Department of Justice, to protect the Civil and Charter Rights of one and half million non-francophone Canadian citizens residing in Quebec. â??
Spokesperson - Porte parole
Quebec Office of the English Language
Office quÃ©bÃ©cois de la langue anglaise
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The OQLA is a non-profit organization made up of volunteers who are concerned about methodical undoing of minority language rights in Quebec. Our primary objectives are to preserve and promote the English language within the province, to ensure that the English language does not become extinct in Quebec, and to make sure that companies provide bilingual signage in accordance with the language laws of Quebec. As mentioned in a previous Press Release, our organization strongly opposes violence.
For questions and interviews regarding the assault please contact Antoinette Mercurio
Thanks to Columnist Barbara Kay of the Nation Post for mentioning this event in this Full Editorial.