#MigrantStrike: Immigration Detainees on Hunger Strike


160710_HungerStrike_Meme 1 (v2)Almost 60 Black and Brown immigrants in two maximum security prisons in Ontario began refusing food on the morning of Monday, July 11th.

Their demands are simple: they don’t want to be jailed indefinitely, without charges or trial, in maximum security
prisons.

For media inquiries, please click here.

The men are taking a courageous stance, refusing to allow their humanity to be stripped away behind bars. They are calling on all of us to support them. Here’s what you can do:

  • If you haven’t yet, sign their petition!
  • Take a moment to call, tweet and email Minister Ralph Goodale and ask him to meet with the hunger strikers – 613-947-1153 /  @RalphGoodale / ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca
  • Share this image on facebook and twitter and get your friends to make the call too.
  • Learn about the issues, read these frequently asked questions
  • Follow us on facebook and twitter!
  • Scroll below on this page to read about upcoming events and action, listen to detainee recordings and messages and other information you may need.

#Migrant Strike Week 2 – Detainees running out of time, CBSA trying to break the strike

IMG_6255Today, immigration detainees in two prisons in Ontario are beginning the third week of their hunger strike. The last few days have been extremely hard on hunger-striking detainees, please read below to see why.

As Dr Michelle Fraser recently explained,

“By now their bodies have switched to emergency energy sources causing a buildup of metabolic byproducts that makes them feel unwell. They are experiencing lightheadedness, heart palpitations, and feelings of weakness. They feel chilled, they have headaches, and they feel generally unwell. Their mood and mental functioning are affected leading to irritability, apathy, and mental lethargy.”

This is a crisis and we need your support to make sure that Minister Goodale does the right thing and meet with the detainees before a tragedy occurs.

CALL / EMAIL / TWEET at MINISTER RALPH GOODALE
Ask him to meet the detainees.
613-947-1153 / @RalphGoodale / ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca
SIGN THIS PETITION: https://www.change.org/p/no-more-deaths-no-more-detentions
If you are will an organization, please write a letter to Minister Goodale asking him to meet with detainees. Email the letter to migrantstrike@gmail.com

Here’s a recap of what’s happened in Week 2. For Week 1 recap, click here.

On July 18, organizers in Peterborough visited MP Maryam Monsef’s office demanding she support immigration detainees. See pictures here. Activists also did a solidarity banner drop in Vancouver. On that same day we heard reports that guards were placing food plates inside the cells so that hunger striking detainees had to stare at their food, rather than not serving those who were refusing.

On July 19, protesters were outside a secretive immigration consultation with Minister McCallum in attendance in Toronto, while indigenous activists and allies confronted Minister Ralph Goodale in Regina demanding that he meet with immigration detainees. See pictures here. Instead of agreeing to meet, Minister Goodale published a blog in Huffington Post.

The same day we released a statement in response to SIU’s brutal and dehumanizing press release about Abdurahman’s death. It’s the most read post on our site, read it here.

On July 20th, we responded to Minister Goodale’s blog with our own, insisting he must act before more people suffer or die. Read it here.

On July 21st, activists in Ottawa protested outside the Ministry of Public Safety’s offices demanding that Goodale meet with immigration detainees. See photos and report-back here.

In Toronto, doctors, lawyers and immigration detainees did a press conference calling on Ontario to step in and urge the Federal government to meet with detainees.

We also shared a story of Black youth and allies visiting detainees in Lindsay.

July 22 – 24, On Friday, End Immigration Detention Peterborough released an open letter to MP Maryam Monsef, read it here.

Disturbingly, we are seeing the prison authorities, likely under CBSA instructions, doing everything in their power to break the strike. One of the key strike organizers is being deported today, Monday July 25th after 26 months in prison. Others are being threatened with transfers, and some long-term detainees are being promised release but no real steps have been taken.

Detainees are also not being allowed out of their cells most of the time, and this lockdown is making it difficult for detainees to organize and communicate with each other and those on the outside. As some detainees get sick, or are under enormous pressure, they are choosing to start eating. We honor their courage for continuing for so long. Others are continuing to refuse food. We will support them, no matter what they decide. 

Please take action today by calling, emailing and tweeting, see above for contact info. 

SOLIDARITY STATEMENTS FOR MIGRANT STRIKE

SELECTED MEDIA COVERAGE

SIU releases graphic and dehumanizing report of Abdurahman’s last breath

 From: "Carl, Julie" Subject: FW: Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan Date: 18 June, 2015 5:25:27 PM EDT To: Photodesk - Toronto Star Are these good enough to run? -----Original Message----- From: Kelly, Frances Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2015 5:23 PM To: Gentle, Irene Cc: Carl, Julie Subject: FW: Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan -----Original Message----- From: Keung, Nicholas Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2015 5:22 PM To: Photodesk - Toronto Star Cc: Kelly, Frances Subject: Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan

Trigger warning for descriptions of police and medical abuse. 

At 6:20pm, last Friday evening, the Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) released its decision to not charge police officers for restraining Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan as he died on June 11, 2015. The decision was issued in the form of a press release, and the details were not shared with the family prior to it being sent to the media.

The press release is brutal, dehumanizing and graphic, and we have struggled with how to share it with you.  

Since we’ve read the press release, many of us have cried for hours. Those of us that have suffered directly or seen our loved ones experience imprisonment, denial of immigration status, medical pathologization, and disturbing abuse for mental health illnesses are devastated and filled with rage. We have found solace in all the healthy and unhealthy ways we know how to cope. For us, and possibly for you, this press release is beyond triggering.

The SIU press release – which doesn’t even name him – describes Abdurahman’s death throes in dispassionate detail: armed police officers using a rolled towel to hold down his face until he dies. This press release paints a picture of Abdurahman that must be fought and negated.

Abdurahman was a joyous man. He loved his nieces and nephews and wrote them long letters promising to take them to amusement parks when he was finally released. He was funny and joked with fellow prisoners, nurses, even the corrections staff.

He had a limp – a result some say of being beaten in prison. He had diabetes, and sleep apnea, and a number of psychological ailments for which he took medication. All this, at a young age of 39. A result of a difficult life, yet he spread happiness everywhere he went.

He came to Canada as a refugee in the 1993 from war-torn Somalia. He was a teenager. While his siblings and mother were granted permanent residency status, his permanent residency was delayed and then denied because of petty crimes. The instability of living without status worsened his psychological health. In 2012, he was separated from his sister, nieces and nephews and jailed in a maximum security prison, Central East Correctional Centre (CECC), on behalf of Canada Border Services Agency. At monthly hearings, government lawyers argued that he would be deported soon, but deportations to Somalia are almost impossible so he remained indefinitely imprisoned for over three years until his untimely death.

The press release details how Abdurahman was sedated after being pinned down by police officers once already. Nurses and police officers re-entered the room to clean it, and when he woke up, they held him down until he died. The release outlines a few very specific actions by Abdurrahman, that are intended to dehumanize him. In it, the SIU insists that medical asphyxiation was not deemed a cause of death so the officers cannot be held liable. To date, more than a year later, no cause of death has been issued at all.

There are many questions, from the particular to the general. Why was Abdurahman held down with a towel wrapped around his face? Why did police officers hold him down without being instructed to do? What is the cause of death? What happened in the day leading up to his death – what care was provided? How was he treated in immigration detention? Did he get the supports he needed? Why was he in a maximum security prison for three years without trial or charges? Why can Somalia not issue travel documents and knowing that it can’t why does Canada indefinitely detain migrants where no deportation is possible? Why was Abdurahman’s refugee status revoked? Why was Abdurahman jailed and not given support when he first arrived in Canada? Why did his family flee Somalia?

We know some of the answers for they lie in the interlocking systems of imperialism, capitalism, racism particularly anti-Black racism, ableism, the prison industrial system and lack of support for people with mental health illness. The system did not fail Abdurahman, it worked exactly as intended.

The press release outlines the minutes before his death as utterly rational. The nurses and police officers were simply trying to clean, we are told. His life, his body deemed filth, had to be quickly sanitized. At issue, we are told, was his resistance, not all of the ways in which he was denigrated till he arrived in that bed. Everything seems routine and by the book.

The SIU an unaccountable and opaque system unlike few others has cleared police officers of any wrongdoing. A Coroner’s inquest will take place in two years but that will make no finding of guilt and its recommendations do not need to be implemented. The CBSA, as always, has nothing to say. This is how they want Abdi’s story to end, without anyone being held accountable. This we refuse. We indict all the systems that colluded in his death and we commit yet again to fighting them. Today, about 50 men are on hunger strike. Each of them fears dying like Abdurahman. This, we cannot allow. 

In hospitals, corners are disliked, they are seen as places for germs to aggregate–hard to sanitize. In prisons, human beings are isolated into individual cages, sometimes in segregation, because our oppressors know the power of aggregated human bodies. Let us be the germs in every crack. Let us aggregate. Let us build movements stronger than their prison walls.

Today we remember Abdurahman’s smile, his love, his desire for life and his desire for freedom. Today we insist even more passionately, not one more. End immigration detention.

You can read the SIU report here (all of the trigger warnings), but please share this blog post and not the SIU report itself as it is traumatizing to many: http://www.siu.on.ca/en/news_template.php?nrid=2697

In grief and hope,
Members of End Immigration Detention Network

 

 

#MigrantStrike – Week 1 Reportback

CALL / EMAIL / TWEET at MINISTER RALPH GOODALE
Ask him to meet the detainees.
613-947-1153 / @RalphGoodale / ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca
SIGN THIS PETITION: https://www.change.org/p/no-more-deaths-no-more-detentions
If you are will an organization, please write a letter to Minister Goodale asking him to meet with detainees.
Email the letter to migrantstrike@gmail.com

On July 11th, about 50 immigration detainees – mostly Black and Brown men – at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, and the Toronto East Detention Centre in Scarborough initiated a hunger strike. They are demanding a meeting with Minister Ralph Goodale to end their indefinite detentions in maximum security prisons.

Detainees called Goodale’s office, but were denied access to the Minister. His receptionist insisted that he and his staff are unable to speak to members of the public, and refused to provide further assistance in facilitating a meeting between Goodale and the striking detainees. While Minister Goodale’s office was brushing detainees offices, his office issued a media statement insisting that their approach to immigration detention was “world-class, including methods of enforcement, with effective transparency and accountability”. The Minister also insisted that immigration detention was a ‘last resort, after all other alternatives are explored’.

>>> Hear immigration detainee Toby Clark explain why they started the Hunger Strike.

On July 12th, hundreds of us called and tweeted Minister Goodale and we released a statement exposing Goodale’s lies while more people joined the hunger strike. We asked, at least three people have died in immigration detention since the Liberals took power, the Minister wants to believe that there was no other option but to let them die? How is not talking to the people directly affected transparent and accountable?

>>> Read our update here.

On July 13th, immigration detainees were locked up for 22 hours, from 6pm the night before in an obvious attempt to break morale and silence detainees. Despite this our spokespeople did 15 CBC interviews across the country and media reports continue to appear. Phone calls continue to flood Minister Goodale’s offices.

>>>> Hear immigration detainee Patrick explain the experience of the lock-down and how migrants continue to strike.

On July 14th, Colonialism No More – Solidarity Camp Regina, 88 day strong and ongoing encampment at Indigenous and North Affairs Canada (INAC) offices in Saskatchewan offered support for ‪#‎MigrantStrike‬ by organizing a picket at Minister Ralph Goodale’s office. We are greatly moved by this show of solidarity and uniting of struggles. See a picture here. On the same day, 65 health professionals wrote a letter to Minister Goodale urging him to meet immigration detainees.

>>>> See a self-portrait and poem by R.R who is on immigration detention where he explains his feeling of loss and stuck in limbo.

On July 15th,  we learned that the Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU), after a year of investigations, decided not to charge police officers in Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan’s death. The same day the Coroner’s office announced a Coroner’s Inquest into his death.
It came as no surprise to any of us that the SIU found police not-guilty in the case of another Black Somali refugee’s death. The SIU consists of former cops investigating current cops and letting them free time and again for murder. At the same time we insisted that if Abdurrahman was not in detention, he would be alive.

>>>> While we are still figuring out how to share the very painful SIU press release with you, we spend Friday remembering the 15 people who have died in detention, 3 in just the last five months. See their names here.

On July 16 and 17, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) staff have been meeting with detainees, offering to separate and expedite some files for release. Detainees are refusing this divide and rule strategy. CBSA has said that changes are coming in the Fall and detainees are demanding changes in writing from Minister Goodale.

CBSA staff has also tried to separate some strike organizer and try to transfer them to other prisons, but thus far all of them have refused.

>>>> #MigrantStrike continues. Here is some selected mainstream media coverage on the strike.

Toronto: Emergency Action with Hunger Striking Migrants

Around 50 immigration detainees have been hunger striking since July 11th to call for an end to their maximum security indefinite immigration detention. They have requested a meeting with Minister Ralph Goodale who has ignored them. 15 people have died in immigration detention, 3 in just the last five months under the current Liberal government. On Tuesday, July 19, Immigration Minister John McCallum is holding a secretive invitation only ‘consultation’ on immigration at 25 St Clair East. Join us at 9am as we bring the voices and names of those who have died, and those that are imprisoned without trial or charges to Minister McCallum. Join us to insist that the federal government cannot simply look away as dozens of Black and Brown migrants starve themselves just to be heard.

BACKGROUND ON #MIGRANTSTRIKE: https://endimmigrationdetention.com/category/july-2016-strike/

Peterborough: Migrant Strike Rally In solidarity with hunger-striking detainees!

This Monday July 18 at noon in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong, SKIP LUNCH AND RALLY INSTEAD in solidarity with HUNGER-STRIKING immigration detainees jailed in nearby Lindsay, Ontario.

***
Since Monday, July 11th, over 50 Black and Brown men jailed in immigration detention without trial or charge in maximum security prisons in Ontario have been refusing food.

They are demanding a meeting with Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale. The detainees seek an end to indefinite detention in Canada and in the meantime want to be heard when speaking out against worsening current prison conditions.

Ralph Goodale’s office has repeated one strong message: That they will not talk with the public. Let’s demand that our Member of Parliament communicate her constituents’ concerns, and insist that Ralph Goodale meet with the detainees!

WHERE: Office of Peterborough Member of Parliament Maryam Monsef, 417 Bethune Street, Peterborough/Nogojiwanong

WHEN: Monday, July 18th, 12 pm to 1 pm

WHAT: A rally to:
* Celebrate the strength and resilience of immigration detainees who been hunger striking for 7 days
* Support the detainees in their demands: specifically, a meeting with federal Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale
* Ask that our MP Maryam Monsef take action to insist on behalf of her constituents to ensure that either Minister Goodale or some other body of the government of Canada respond in an immediate, public and transparent way to the claims and demands of the striking detainees

WHO: You- your family, your friends, their friends, those who believe we need to insist our representatives bring the concerns of their constituents forward, others committed to confronting injustice, racism and border imperialism… ALL WELCOME AND INVITED

HOW: Bring your voices, signs, cameras and love. Can’t join us? Skip lunch in solidarity with the hunger striking detainees. Tell your networks why you’re skipping lunch on social media using the hashtag#MigrantStrike2016.

Also, CALL / EMAIL / TWEET at MINISTER RALPH GOODALE. Ask him to meet the detainees.
613-947-1153 / @RalphGoodale / ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca