#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.

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#MigrantStrike Day 2 – More detainees join strike, Goodale brushes them off, then lies.

160712_Call GoodaleImmigration detainees jailed at two maximum security prisons are continuing to hunger strike to demand an end to indefinite detentions in maximum security prisons. The hunger striking detainees, who have increased to over 60, want to meet with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale to discuss their concerns.

FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW:
* CALL RALPH:  613-947-1153
* EMAIL RALPH: ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca
* TWEET at RALPH: @RalphGoodale
* WATCH AND SHARE THIS VIDEO: https://youtu.be/i4YBlrlkIs8
* If you haven’t yet, sign their petition!

Detainees from – Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, and the Toronto East Detention Centre in Scarborough –  called Goodale’s office Monday, 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. Instead she insisted that detainees call their local MPs.

When detainees called their local Member of Parliament, MP Jamie Schmale, he refused to reach out Minister Goodale.

“Everyday we’re looking forward to changes to come, and we don’t know when they’re actually going to happen,” said hunger striking P.O., who has been imprisoned for the past two and a half years without charges or trial. “We’re protesting because we want to have a change. We want to have our freedom as well. That’s the main reason we are doing this.”

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’.

Goodale want us to believe that jailing people for over five years without trial or charge is a last resort. 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?

Now is the not the time to obfuscate and lie, Minister Goodale should visit these maximum security prisons, speak to immigration detainees, and commit to upholding human rights and international norms by ending immigration detention.

Nearly 70 people are starving themselves for basic justice, they deserve to be with their families and communities, not locked up without an end in sight. Support #MigrantStrike.

Visit our campaign site for more updates.

Act Now: Tell Ontario to #EndDetentions

160614_EIDN_MentalHealth_Rev-01.pngA growing chorus of voices are calling on Ontario to stop imprisoning migrants without charges or trial. The tide is turning, and a new Minister has been assigned to the issue. If we act now, we can end this unjust practice. 

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146 doctors, nurses and social workers and 109 lawyers called on Ontario to end the province’s deal with Ottawa that allows the jailing of immigration detainees in provincial prisons earlier this month.

Today 85 immigration detainees at Lindsay’s Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) are adding to the chorus, re-asserting their long standing demand to end their maximum security imprisonment in provincial jails without charges or trial. Help to amplify their message by calling, emailing and tweeting today, scroll below to see how. One-third of all immigration detainees in Canada are held in provincial jails, even though immigration is a federal matter.  

“Everyone has mental health problems. Once a month a psychiatrist comes to talk to you, and they only give you a sleeping pill. This is not helping my mental health, it’s making me sleep, that’s it. We don’t want to sleep, we want to be healthy. We are refugees being treated like bad people and nothing ever changes. Immigration detention needs to stop now.” – Ebrahim Toure, forty-five, from Guinea who has been detained for three years and seven months at CECC without cause. 

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Deaths in Detention: Families need answers – Call Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety TODAY

Francisco Javier Romero Astorga died 10 days ago and CBSA has refused to explain why he died. They haven’t even contacted his family. Francisco’s family want to know why their brother died, they want the Federal government to pay for his body to be sent home, they want to assurances that this will never happen again. And they are asking for your help.

Read the letter to the Canadian public from the Francisco’s family: https://endimmigrationdetention.com/2016/03/22/franciscofamilyletter/

WHAT: Please call Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety at 613-991-2924 and ask him to release information to Francisco’s family, pay for transportation costs, and commit to ending detentions.

WHEN: Thursday, March 24

HOW: Sample phone script below. Continue reading

Grieving family seeks answers for death in immigration detention.

Media Contact: Macdonald Scott, 647 761 3860
Full family statement and pictures can be found here

 

Toronto – Ten days after his death in Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) custody, the grieving family of Francisco Javier Romero Astorga are still seeking answers. To date, CBSA has not revealed Francisco’s name and has not contacted his family with details on his death. Migrant justice groups are criticizing CBSA’s lack of transparency and insisting on an end to immigration detention.

The family made an appeal to the Canadian public this afternoon for help in getting answers. “Francisco left Chile in perfect health, he spent much of his recent time in Canada in immigration detention and now he is dead.  All we know is that the cause of death is ‘undetermined’, it makes no sense,” said his brother Esteban over Skype at a press conference in Toronto today.

“Francisco was a dreamer who was always looking to make the future brighter. He went to Canada for a ‘new beginning’ and we can’t rest till we at least know how he died, and that other families will not suffer like us,” added his sister Cecilia.

While the CBSA has not even released Francisco’s name, Francisco’s family members contacted the migrant justice coalition and detentions watch-dog End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN) after reading about the group’s vigil for deaths in detention last week.

“Francisco would not be dead today if he had not been in immigration detention,” says End Immigration Detention Network member Macdonald Scott. “How can someone just die in government custody and we are told that the cause of death is unknown? There have been 14 such deaths in immigration detention since 2000, 7 in just the last three years. Immigration detention is killing people and it must end.” Continue reading

Public Letter from the Family of Francisco Javier Romero Astorga

Please read full press release accompanying this open letter here.

On Sunday, March 13, 2016, Francisco Javier Romero Astorga – our brother, our son – died in immigration detention custody. No one has told us how Francisco died, or why he was in prison. To date, no one from the federal Canadian government, including the Canada Border Services Agency, has contacted us. We do not know of an autopsy and no results of any tests or reasons for his death have been given to us.

All we know is that his body lies in a hospital, and that we must pay nearly $10,000 to bring his body home to give him a proper burial. Our brother, our son’s body has been in a hospital for ten days already, and we are in pain every minute that passes. Behind all this tragedy is a family and a mother who are grieving.

We are writing this open letter to the Canadian government and the Canadian people to request information and support. We want to know why our son, our brother died. We want to know what the Canadian government is doing to make sure this does not happen to anyone else again. We want the Canadian government to provide us the financial resources to return Francisco to us so that he can be laid to rest.

Please sign this petition calling for an end to deadly immigration detentions! Continue reading

Family of man who died in immigration detention seeking answers

Toronto — Grieving parents and siblings of Francisco Javier Romero Astorga, who died in immigration detention on March 13th, will be asking the Canadian public for help to obtain answers about Francisco’s death in a press conference via Skype on March 23, 2016. The Canada Border Services Agency or the federal government have not even publicly released Francisco’s name and are yet to explain the cause of Francisco’s mysterious death in immigration detention. End Immigration Detention Network will join them in calling for answers and demanding an end to immigration detention.

Francisco is the 14th person known to have died in while being detained by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and is the second person to die in CBSA custody in the span of a week. On March 7, 64 year old refugee Melkioro Gahungu committed suicide under CBSA’s watch in immigration detention rather than be deported to Burundi from where he fled. Currently a protest is underway outside Toronto Police Headquarters by Black Lives Matter Toronto against a number of instances of anti-Black violence in Canada including Mr Gahungu’s death.

WHAT: Parents and siblings of Francisco Javier Romero Astorga from Chile will share information about their brother and release an open letter calling for an explanation for his death. 
 

WHEN: 1pm, Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WHERE: Suite 223, 720 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
 
VISUALS: Parents and siblings of Francisco on Skype, pictures of Francisco and his family. 
 
Interviews before and after with the family will not be possible, so members of the press are encouraged to attend the press conference on March 23.

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