Toronto: Families of immigration detainees on strike and Torontonians dressed in orange jumpsuits, in chains, with their mouths taped and holding empty food plates confronted Thomas Chanzy, Chief of Staff for Madeline Meilleur, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Servicecs and delivered a petition signed by over 1,200 people this morning.
Family members and supporters are joining communities across Ontario to speak out against prison conditions and indefinite detention in support of nearly 200 immigration detainees who have been on strike since September 17.
Actions in other cities: http://endimmigrationdetention.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/298/
No One Is Illegal Toronto member Syed Hussan: “We confronted Thomas Chanzy demanding immediate action to improve the prison conditions migrants are indefinitely facing. Faced with strong community pressure, the Ministry agreed to issue a statement about prison conditions and not minimize the long strike the migrants are organizing.”
LaToya Lettman, whose husband is in jail: “Immigration detention tears apart families, separating us from our loved ones. I call on Ministers Meilleur and Blaney to release these people and bring end to indefinite detention and maximum security detention for immigration detainees. My husband and the other detainees are being subjected to regular ‘weigh-ins’ and if they’ve lost weight they get put in segregation. The food being served is appalling, there are grave concerns over the water quality, with many people developing skin problems and the medication provided is sub-standard.”
Ayad Alshmmar from inside Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, who has been in immigration detention for 5 years 8 months. He was diagnosed with cancer while in detention: “We have been here on hunger strike because what immigration has done is not right,” said “I tried to do hunger strike with my people but I could not do it, I felt sick without my medication. I went half a day. They know I have cancer, but they don’t care about it. They say whatever happened to you in jail, it has nothing to do with us. I said you guys put me in jail and I am sick. In this situation you have to do something. You have to release me to my freedom. They have a hospital treatment program in Toronto, which immigration could agree to put me in, not in jail, but they have refused.” (Audio of Ayad and other detainee statements: https://soundcloud.com/moominamur)
Immigration consultant Macdonald Scott who has three clients on strike in Lindsay: “Migrants are jailed indefinitely in direct contravention to the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights that demands that countries set a maximum period of time, called a presumptive period, that people can be detained pending removal. In the United States and United Kingdom that period is 90 days but Canada has no such limits relying instead on a broken review process every 30 days where almost no one gets released.”
The detainees and their supporters are calling for an end to maximum security detention in provincial jails for migrants; a limit of 90 days that migrants can be held in detention pending deportation as per international law; full access to legal aid for detention reviews; and an overhaul of the adjudication appointment process for detention review. In addition, the strikers are calling for access to medical care, decent food, social workers, legal services, and international calls and an end to constant lockdowns. Well over 1000 people have signed a petition in support: http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/meet-the-demands-of-striking-immigrant-detainees
For more information: www.endimmigrationdetention.wordpress.com and on twitter at #MigrantStrike