Immigration detainees boycott end after momentous month of action

On June 2nd, 2014, over 100 immigrants in three prisons began a coordinated boycott of their detention review processes. Insisting the process is biased, unfair and stacked against them, they collectively rejected their only chance of release. The boycott was coordinated between detainees caged in three separate maximum security prisons across Ontario – the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene and Toronto’s Metro West Detention Centre.

The boycott has now ended and it is time to reflect on what has been an historic month in the struggle to end immigration detention in Canada. To hear detainees voices and reasons for participating in the boycott watch this video.

Coinciding with the boycott, on June 9th; the End Immigration Detention Network published, Indefinite, ‘Arbitrary and Unfair:The Truth about Immigration Detention’, a groundbreaking report which raises red flags about troubling patterns in the detention review process which keeps immigrants detained and suggests that political inference may be keeping people behind bars. The startling exposé brought national attention to immigration detention in Canada and was featured on CBC Metro Morning.

We then ramped up the pressure as we brought the campaign to Ottawa, where we used 10-foot-tall scales of injustice to lock down Border Control Headquarters. As detainees continue to take action on the inside it is important that we continue to put those who make decisions keeping them behind bars under pressure where and when we can.

As part of the International Conference on Penal Abolition, we organised a Fathers Day March to End Immigration Detention on June 15th, from the University of Ottawa to Canada Border Services Agency headquarters in downtown Ottawa. As we played a live recording from a detainee in Lindsay supporters chalked the names of those detained on the street in front of the CBSA offices.

The end of the boycott concludes an important period in the struggle as we look ahead to September and the anniversary of the beginning of the strike. As we have seen since the historic strike began, detainees will not shirk from action. As a result of their boycott, there was a dramatic increase in lockdowns and detainees were put under enormous pressure to cease their actions.

A call-out for a day of action on September 17th is coming soon and we call on all supporters and allies to join us in ending this injustice and bring immigration detention to an end.

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