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:

In grief and hope,
Members of End Immigration Detention Network



No justice for Abdurrahman, who died mysteriously in immigration detention

160714_Not1More_Adbi_smplease read our updated statement by clicking here

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As over 60 immigration detainees in two maximum security prisons enter Day 5 of their hunger strike, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has decided after a 12 month investigation that police are not responsible for Mr Abdurrahman Ibrahim Hassan’s death. Abdurrahman was in immigration detention at the Central East Correctional Centre for three years without charges or trial when he died on June 11, 2015. The only known cause of death is from an SIU statement in June 2015 that he died after being “restrained by officers”. We need you take action, read on to see what you can do.

It comes as no surprise to any of us that the SIU found police not-guilty in the case of another Black Somali refugee’s death. Black Lives Matter Toronto, and even the Ontario Ombudsman haves urged SIU reform which consists of former cops investigating current cops and letting them free time and again for murder.

We also know that Abdurrahman died because of an intersection of local laws and global policies. He died because of our imperialist world order where Somalia remains war-ravaged. He died because refugees arriving with mental health illnesses get little support, and then when they end up breaking the law, get criminal convictions. Criminal convictions that result in their refugee status being revoked, and in Abdurrahman’s case, endless detentions and eventually death.

Ending indefinite maximum security detention is one part of creating justice in this brutal, violent, and deadly system, and we urge you to take action today by signing our petition, calling Ralph Goodale and issuing letters of support. Scroll below to see how.

Abdurrahman came to Canada as a refugee in the 1993 as a teenager from war-torn Somalia. While his siblings and mother were granted permanent residency status, Mr Hassan’s permanent residency was delayed and then denied because of petty crimes, according to his family members who are requesting privacy from the media at this time. The instability of living without status worsened his post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2012, Mr Hassan was separated from his sister, nieces and nephews and jailed in a maximum security prison, CECC, on behalf of CBSA but deportations to Somalia are almost impossible so he remained indefinitely imprisoned until his untimely death.

A Coroner’s inquest is expected to called in Mr Hassan’s death. The inquest will likely take place in two years time, and its recommendations are not mandatory. We can’t wait two years for answers and recommendations that no one will follow!

When Abdurrahman died a year ago, 88 detainees issued a joint letter concerned about his mysterious death. One of his former cellmates, himself an immigration detainee since August 2013, said “Abdurrahman was a really nice guy, he was friendly to officers and nurses, he shouldn’t have been here, he had served his time but he was still in jail. People should know that he had diabetes and a limp and they put him in the top bunk, I had to help him up and down to his bed and he was often in pain. He had major sleep apnea, the doctors prescribed him a breathing machine, but the jail didn’t give it to him so he would lose his breath while asleep and I had to wake him up. He was a young man, but used to say to me that he would just die in jail, and he did. This immigration detention system, they don’t think we are human, we will all die here in Canada and no one will know.

Three other men have died in immigration detention since Mr Hassan’s death. One of them is Francisco Romero Astorga who died in March, 2016. His family is also seeking answers. Francisco’s brother Esteban Astorga said, “With my heart full of sadness and my mind still trying to imagine the last minutes of my brother, left alone and desperate, I can say that there is no easy way to understand how hard it is to face this unbearable situation. Our family is with Abdurrahman’s family in these difficult times. When this is going to stop?! Canadians must raise their voice and change this system that is taking lives!

Unless we take action, many more will continue to die.

Ask him to meet the detainees.
613-947-1153 / @RalphGoodale /
If you are will an organization, please write a letter of supports. 65 health professionals released a letter yesterday calling for Mr Goodale to meet with immigration detainees.

Death in immigration detention in Ontario prisons

  1. Francisco Javier Romero Astorga (March 2016) Cause of death unknown (in Ontario provincial prison)
  2. Melkioro Gahungu (March 2016) Suicide (in Ontario provincial prison)
  3. Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan (June 2015) Cause of death unknown (in Ontario provincial prison)
  4. Joseph Dunn (September 2014) Suicide (in Ontario provincial prison)
  5. Unidentified man (March 2013) Cause of death unknown (in Ontario provincial prison)
  6. Shawn Dwight Cole (December 2012) Denied adequate medical care (in Ontario provincial prison)
  7. Kevon O’Brien-Phillip (January 2010) Beaten by fellow inmates (in Ontario provincial prison)
  8. Sheik Kudrath (April 2000) Denied adequate medical care (in Ontario provincial prison)

Death in immigration detention outside of Ontario prisons

  1. Unidentified man (May 2016), Cause of death unknown (Edmonton remand centre)
  2. Prince Maxamillion Akamai (April 2014) Denied adequate medical care (Toronto Immigration Holding Centre)
  3. Lucia Vega Jimenez (December 2013) Suicide (in Vancouver immigration holding centre)
  4. Unidentified man (August 2010) Cause of death unknown (in Laval immigration holding centre)
  5. Jan Szamko (December 2009) Denied adequate medical care (in Toronto immigration holding centre)
  6. Joseph Fernandes (January 2007) Denied adequate medical care (in Toronto immigration holding centre)
  7. Unidentified man (Unknown) Cause of death unknown (unknown) – only reported in CBSA documents but no other details.

Release: Mourners demand inquest, action over death in immigration custody

Lack of Coroner’s inquest, and continued use of Ontario prisons for federal immigration enforcement sparks calls for change.

Toronto – A petition initiated by 88 immigration detainees in the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay and signed by over 1500 people will be delivered to Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Yasir Naqvi today, August 10th, Prisoner Justice Day, calling for a coroner’s inquest into the death of Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan (Abdi). Abdi, a 39 year-old Somali refugee had been in immigration detention custody at CECC for three years when he was transferred to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre, and died on June 11th. The only known circumstances of Mr Hassan’s death comes from a short SIU statement saying that he died after being “restrained by officers”. Residents are also calling on Ontario to cut ties with federal immigration enforcement, and stop jailing immigrants without charges or trial on the federal government’s behalf. The agreement between the two parties is up for renewal in January, 2016.

Continue reading

Prisoner Justice Day 2015: Justice for Abdi! End Immigration Detention!

pjdImmigration detention petition delivery to Ontario Corrections Minister, Yasir Naqvi, on Prisoner Justice Day

August 10, 2015, 10am, Prisoner’s Justice Day
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
25 Grosvenor Street (Close to Wellesley Station)

It’s been two months since Abdurrahman Ibrahim Hassan (Abdi) died in immigration detention custody after being ‘restrained’ by police and border officials – and still no Coroner’s Inquest has been called in to his death. Join us on August 10th, Prisoner’s Justice Day to demand justice for Abdi, and an end to immigration detention in Ontario and across the country.

We will be delivering this petition initiated by 88 immigration detainees in the Central East Corrections Centre in Lindsay and


Who is Abdi and why the Ontario Correction Ministry? Continue reading

Support detainee petition: Demand an inquest into Abdi’s death

abdurahman-ibrahim-hassan.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxToday, 88 immigration detainees imprisoned at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario defied sanctions to issue a joint letter calling for a coroner’s inquest into the recent death of their fellow detainee and friend, Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan (Abdi).

Abdi, a 39 year old Somali refugee died in immigration detention custody at Peterborough Regional Hospital. He is the 12th person to have died in immigration detention custody since 2000. The Canada Border Services Agency and the Special Investigations Unit have still not released his name, and no Coroner’s Inquest has been called in to his death.

S.10 of the Coroner Coroners Act states that inquests must be held for deaths caused by unnatural means inside prisons. According to official press release Abdi died after being “restrained by officers”. A coroner’s inquest into Abdi’s death is required and necessary but is being unjustly delayed.

Detainees are regularly punished for taking action inside and for communicating with organizers on the outside. For an entire group of immigration detainees to put their names to this petition shows how urgent things have become and how steadfast they are in the struggle to end indefinite detention.

“Hassan is one of us. We are all here together. We treated him like a brother, a friend. Whatever happened to him also happened to us. He’s not gone, his spirit is still here. We knew him very well. We have to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. No other family should go through this. For us, we know he was killed. Let’s find out what the facts are so no one else has to go through this.”  (Francis Davidson, 48 years old, detention for 4 years)

Take Action! Demand Justice for Abdi’s death.

Call / Tweet / Email

  • Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney
  • Ontario Minister responsible for Prisons, Yasir Naqvi
  • Ontario Chief Coroner Dirk Huyer
    • Demand a coroner’s inquest into Abdi’s death.
    • 647-329-1814 /

Continue reading

Media Coverage on Abdi’s death

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