Toronto – One week after the death of a 39 year old, Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan at the hands of Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), immigrants imprisoned without trial or charges along with their families, and friends are refusing food today inside and outside of the Central East Correctional prison. Detainees in Toronto East Detention Centre will be joining them. The one-day fast is to commemorate the death of their close friend, and to demand an end to immigration detention. Detainees and End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN), Canada’s leading immigration detention watch group are also calling for a Coroner’s Inquest into Hassan’s death as well as the implementation of recommendations from Lucia Vega Jimenez’s death, a 90 day limit on immigration detention, an end to maximum security imprisonment and overhaul of the judicial process. Detainees and EIDN are also calling on the SIU to speak to detainees who have not yet been interviewed, and for the Ontario government to take responsibility for its role in these deaths.
“When we woke up [on June 12th] they told us Hassan died from a stroke. A newspaper said he was being restrained and died. We’re wondering who’s next. Am I next? Are my fellow friends my brothers here next who’s next ? We’re on immigration hold, you don’t know what’s gonna happen so you have the fear of losing your life, being assaulted or being forced to get on a plane. There’s a lot of concerns that we have” said T.R., one of the over 50 hunger fast participants, a 27 year old father who has lived in Canada for 12 years, and has been in detention for 5 months.
On June 11, 2015, Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan, jailed in Ontario’s maximum security Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay, died in a Peterborough hospital after being “restrained” by officers according to Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU). Few details have been released surrounding the events that led to the detainee’s death. This is the 12th such recorded death in immigration custody since 2000. No recommendations from inquiries or inquests into any of those deaths have ever been implemented.
Twain, another detainee on hunger strike adds, “If anybody had criminal records they already paid their dues, but here they treat us so bad. It’s messed up how things happened. He was sick already and had altercations with guards before. He was walking good before, like straight. After the first altercation his back was bent he wasn’t walking straight anymore. After that he had another stroke. Last time he got beat up by guards in solitary and, rushed to hospital.This is what the guards told me. The situation in the hole is messed up. Only get a shower every other day. You sit there the guard walks by have to wait 30 minutes to an hour to wish for a guard to walk by in case something happens to you.”
“Immigration detention is getting way out of hand. they are locking us up and forgetting about us. I have seen 4 people held in detention with me pass away while in CBSA custody, there is no end to detention and I am worried the next one will be me” adds 50 year old Francis Davidson. Davidson has been in Canada 27 years and has been held in detention for the past 4 years. He continued, “I want immigration detention to end now. People have families. I have family and friends who care about me. My daughter asked if I can see her for her graduation and I don’t know, I can’t answer that and that affects my mind, my mental health. I need to get these stories out and I need to get more stories out.”
Another detainee, 59 years old, a resident of Canada for 10 years and who has been in detention since December, 2014 added “I want to draw attention to the hopelessness felt by people who are detained and who are at the mercy of the government who lie and twist everything. CBSA counsel twists things around, they have explicitly lied at 3 of my hearings. It contributes to hopelessness because we are fighting things we cannot win.”
Syed Hussan, EIDN organizer says, “Hassan’s death is a tragedy of epic proportions that’s happened as a result of immigration and border laws which cannot be allowed to continue a single day longer, people can’t just keep dying. It’s time for everyone to work together to end the heartbreaking and destructive regime that is the immigration detention system in this country”
All quotes were compiled by EIDN organizers over the free telephone line EIDN operates for detainees. Some names have been changed at the detainee’s request.
Syed Hussan, 416 453 3632, Organizer, No One Is Illegal – Toronto / End Immigration Detention Network
Caileigh McKnight, 705 931 2405, Organizer, End Immigration Detention Network Peterborough