C-CAT Member Dr. Sherri Wise files first Canadian lawsuit against Iran under new anti-terrorism laws

The Front Page of the National Post:

C-CAT Member Dr. Sherri Wise files first Canadian lawsuit against Iran under new anti-terrorism laws.

Monday’s headline in the National Post featured Dr. Sherri Wise — a Vancouver dentist injured in a 1997 Hamas suicide bombing who has filed a lawsuit against Iran under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (JVTA). The notice of claim in British Columbia Supreme Court does not seek a specific dollar amount in damages from the Islamic Republic, which has provided Hamas with arms, training and millions of dollars in support. Dr. Wise is a member of C-CAT, which led the eight year campaign for the passage of the JVTA. She will be the first Canadian to utilize the JVTA.

The suit comes more than a year after the federal government enacted the JVTA which paved the way for such cases by lifting state immunity from countries that sponsor terrorism. Under the provisions of the JVTA, Iran and Syria were listed as state sponsors of terrorism. The listing not only opened the door for legal action against these two countries, but provided the legal framework and impetus for Canada’s subsequent expulsion of Iranian diplomats and the closure of the Canadians embassy in Tehran.

In 2006 Dr. Wise joined C-CAT’s campaign for the passage of the JVTA and in 2008 testified with other members of C-CAT before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Dr. Wise’s testimony quoted below describes the bombing in Jerusalem which changed her life forever:

That summer in 1997… I was going to volunteer as a dentist, providing free dentistry to underprivileged children, both Arabs and Jews.  On my last day of volunteering at the dental clinic, I decided to have lunch at an outdoor cafe….  As I was sitting having lunch, I saw an oddly large man dressed in women’s clothing carrying two very large bags…. Little did I know that he was about to set off the first of three separate explosions.  

This suicide bomber was strapped with nail-studded bombs and detonated himself several steps from where I was sitting….  The first blast had thrown me from my seat. … I saw people screaming but I could not hear anything.  The explosions were so loud that I temporarily lost all my hearing.  As I looked over my shoulder, I saw a second terrorist pull the detonator to the bomb attached to his chest and I watched him explode.  Many people were killed and dismembered, and I remember being struck in the head with a dismembered foot of the bomber. 

My first instinct that day was of survival and I kept saying to myself over and over that I did not want to die…. I then realized I had lost my purse in all the commotion and that my passport was inside.  I began to panic…. If I were going to die, I wanted people to be able to identify me. After searching through bodies, body parts and debris, I was able to find my purse.  I grabbed it and waited for help to arrive.  The blood-soaked street was utter chaos with people screaming, sirens blaring, people wailing, and limp bodies scattered everywhere.  Over 20 people were murdered on that day and 196 were wounded, including me.  I suffered second and third-degree burns to 40 per cent of my body and my hair was burnt off.  I had over 100 nails lodged in my arms and legs and a bolt embedded in my foot, and I lost most of the hearing in my right ear.  I was in the hospital in Israel for two weeks and then transferred back to Canada to my parents’ home, where I remained for almost five months.  I required over six months of continuous medical care before I could go back to Vancouver and live on my own….

Read the full article in the National Post:

Hamas suicide bombing victim files first Canadian lawsuit against Iran under new anti-terrorism laws