Statements on the hunger strike:
1. Campaign to Stop Secret Trials
3. Ursula Franklin
4. Canadian Council for Refugees
5. Canadian Labour Congress
Statement from the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada...
February 2, 2007 -- The hunger strike at Canada's Guantanamo Bay is as much about the fundamentally flawed and unjust secret hearing security certificate that has detained these men upwards of 7 years, as it is about the conditions where they are being held and the biased and unfair grievance procedure that has failed them.
Just as the security certificate and the arbitrary, indefinite detention it entails is based on an unaccountable, and un-appealable process, any chance the men have for a meaningful review of their conditions of detention is frustrated by the fact that they are the only federal prisoners in Canada who are not allowed access to an independent ombudsperson.
Today is Day 70 of a hunger strike for Mohammad Mahjoub, day 59 for Hassan Almrei and Mahmoud Jaballah. They are being left to die, and the government of Canada refuses to acknowledge the impending tragedy, or to end its reckless endangerment of their lives.
Eight days ago, in response to waves of public pressure, Stockwell Day went to Guantanamo North, but refused to meet with the men or to hear their concerns.
Just as their human rights have been violated at every step of the security certificate process, so their rights are daily violated at Gitmo North. Denial of medical care for Hepatitis C and a double hernia, among many other health issues, lack of privacy in dealing with the media, an incessant daily course of humiliation -- they are not even allowed to dial a phone. This punitive atmosphere is far worse than they experienced at Metro West Detention Centre, where conditions were hardly satisfactory.
We face a crisis that this government and Guantanamo North, in an ugly style reminiscent of the Thatcher government, refuses to acknowledge nor to correct:
We have three very specific demands.
1. Along with scores of health workers across Canada, we call on Stockwell Day to order medical staff to immediately attend and provide ongoing monitoring and care for the men in the living unit.
From day one of this hunger strike, the men have not had their vital signs monitored, a serious breach of medical ethics. Yesterday, an offer by a Kingston-area medical doctor who volunteered to see the men and provide an assessment, was rejected, despiote the fact that he was already cleared for other federal penitentiaries in the area.
2. We call on the government to respond to the emergency nature of the crisis by ordering the director of the KIHC to immediately allow entry to an esteemed team of negotiators to seek a framework for resolution.
The director of Guantanamo North this week refused a dream team of negotiators who volunteered to go and work out a solution in the absence of any effort by staff to deal with concerns raised. Among them: former Solicitor General of Canada Warren Allmand, internationally renowned human rights advocate and Order of Canada member Mary Jo Leddy, the much respected Montreal Muslim imam Salam El Manyawi, and national human rights and anti-racism coordinator of the Canadian Labour Congress Karl Flecker. That team is still available, and now includes former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.
3. Because the staff at Guantanamo North and their actions are the focus of the men's complaints, we call for an independent ombudsperson, preferably the Federal Correctional Investigator, to be appointed to investigate and mediate a solution. This very officer identified a year ago the potential for such problems to arise, but again, there has been no effort made to correct this serious breach.
The men are constantly asked: why a hunger strike? Aren't you only hurting yourselves? The answer to that is obvious. The hurting began long ago. These men have already been deeply hurt by secrecy, by lies, by unfounded and vicious allegations of so-called security agencies whose word can hardly be believed, especially in light of the Arar Inquiry, by the frustration of being allowed no meaningful opportunity to clear their names, by indefinite detention, by the threat of deportation to torture. This has gone on for between 5.5 and 6.5 years, and there is no end in sight.
Torture experts have concluded that the ultimate sign of successful, psychological torture is to have the subject of that torture become self-abusing. If we can define two months of no food as self-abusing, then it is clear that this government's effort to torture these innocent men, whether in Syria and Egypt, or here at home, has been successful.
All this for individuals who have never been charged with, much less convicted of, a single offence.
We want an answer from the government today. Are we to assume that you are hoping these three men will die? Is this so that you can finally sweep under the rug the collateral damage of a system of judicial inquisition that, through public exposure, has embarrassed Canada on the world stage and become the object of intense criticism from the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other human rights bodies? Unless you can show us positive, concrete steps to immediately resolve the life and death situation of the hunger strike, to stop blocking efforts to release these men to their friends and families, and to end the process to deport them to torture, we cannot assume otherwise.
Published on NDP (http://www.ndp.ca)
Created 2007-02-02 12:44
NDP demands end to 71-day hunger strike
Day and Finley must investigate detainees' conditions
OTTAWA &endash; In a press conference today, NDP Citizenship and Immigration Critic Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) demanded, once again, that the Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley immediately resolve the crisis at Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC).
Mohammad Mahjoub is on day 71 of a hunger strike, and Hassan Almrei, and Mahmoud Jaballah have both been on a hunger strike for 60 days. The three men have been detained indefinitely without charge or conviction, without knowing the evidence against them, under the provision of security certificates.
"This situation is at a crisis point and must be settled," said Siksay. "The men are not receiving medical attention despite the fact that their lives are at risk. Even the call of almost 70 health professionals and organizations for urgent action went unheeded."
"Despite their efforts to be heard, the men's concerns about the conditions of their detention are not being addressed," said Siksay. "Day and Finley must intervene to resolve the critical situation immediately."
Unlike all other federal inmates, Jaballah, Almrei and Mahjoub do not have access to the Office of the Correctional Investigator. "This is unacceptable and unfair to these families," said Siksay. "The lack of such an unbiased ombudsperson has made this situation much worse."
Siksay was joined today by the worried families of Jaballah and Mahjoub. Also present were Matthew Behrens, an advocate for the men, and Scott Weinstein, a medical professional, who addressed the serious health concerns they face.
Siksay attempted to have an emergency motion debated yesterday in the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, but was blocked by the Conservative members. The motion called on the Government of Canada to mandate the Office of the Correctional Investigator to assume jurisdiction over the KIHC so that the men's current complaints could be investigated and resolved. The correctional investigator himself suggested this course in his 2005/2006 annual report.
URSULA M. FRANKLIN C.C. FRSC
University Professor Emerita
February 1, 2007
To: The Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada:
I wish to express my strong support for your interventions on behalf of those on hunger strike at the Kingston Immigration Holding Facility ( KIHC). I share your compelling sense of urgency, because immediate medical and humanitarian intercession is of paramount importance.
This is a crisis, not only for the incarcerated men and their families, but also for Canada as a civilized nation. Hunger strike, after all, is the desperate communication by people, so bereft of all other means of having their needs recognized and addressed, that they have to resort to harming themselves in order to be heard.
It is my firm conviction that in Canada no one, citizen or non-citizen, friend or opponent should be driven into a situation in which hunger strike is the only option.
Surely, in a country that claims to strive for "peace, order and good government" there are humane and just ways left to deal with this tragic situation.
Letter to Minister of Public
30 January 2007
Hon. Stockwell Day
Minister of Public Safety
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Council for Refugees to ask for your urgent attention to the conditions of detention experienced by the three individuals held on security certificates at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre.
Based on our mandate to promote the rights of refugees and immigrants to Canada, the Canadian Council for Refugees has longstanding concerns with the security certificate process which we believe to be fundamentally unfair, notably in its use of secret evidence. The fact that the process involves potential deportation to a danger of torture heightens the concern over this flawed process. Furthermore, the rules relating to the detention of those subject to a security certificate, including mandatory detention in the case of those who are not permanent residents, also lead to violations of basic rights. It is a grave concern that Mohammad Mahjoub,Mahmoud Jaballah, and Hassan Almrei have each been detained for more than five years, despite being charged with no crime. We continue to urge your government to eliminate or at least reform the security certificate process in order to respect the principles of fundamental justice.
In the meantime, we ask that you without delay substantially improve the conditions of detention of the persons in the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre. Nothing in the current law requires that immigration detainees be subjected to any particular detention regime: on the contrary, as people neither charged nor convicted of any crime, immigration detainees should not be subject to any constraints more than are necessary to maintain them in detention. For persons detained for exceptionally long periods, as is the case with the security certificate detainees, the onus lies with the government to alleviate as far as possible the hardship of detention through improvements to the conditions of detention.
In this context we are shocked at the reports of the conditions in which the detainees are held in the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, most particularly with respect to the health and medical needs of the detainees, which have been gravely neglected. We note that many of the demands of the detainees could be met without cost or inconvenience to the government (for example, ceasing head counts in an institution with only three detainees, allowing detainees to wear their own clothing, allowing detainees to make phone calls using cheap calling cards). While these matters are trivial from the governments point of view, they have a tremendous impact on the detainees, as is shown by the fact that they have undertaken a hunger strike to back their demands. We also underline that we expect the Canadian government to respect freedom of speech and the role of media in a democratic society by allowing the detainees full and unfettered access to the media.
We therefore join the detainees and numerous other organizations in asking you to respond immediately and positively to the demands of the detainees, including through the appointment of a neutral party to provide ongoing mediation between the detainees and those running the holding centre.
cc. Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Alain Jolicoeur, President, Canada Border Services Agency
Canadian Labour Congress
Statement on Government refusal to help resolve hunger strike by three detainees at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre
February 1, 2007
The Canadian Labour Congress is deeply disappointed that the federal government has chosen to ignore our offer to help find a reasonable solution to the hunger strike that threatens the lives of Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Hassan Almrei, all detainees at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre.
We offered to send Karl Flecker, the national director of our Anti-Racism & Human Rights Department, as one of a team of skilled negotiators determined to find a constructive solution to the impasse between a federal government that won't budge and three men who have refused to eat for 70, 59 and 50 days respectively.
Sadly, our proposal to visit the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre and meet with both government officials and the detainees has been denied.
"Why won't our government demonstrate any sense of fairness or a commitment to justice as these men waste away in their cells? Why won't they accept any reasonable offer of help to stop the looming death of these men?" asks Flecker.
"The Security Certificate process has proven itself persistent in its lack of accountability, yet the federal government remains determined to stay the course of injustice and incarceration &endash; and at all costs."
"All we can do is join with those who share our opposition to this policy and demand, out loud and in public, that the government immediately instruct the Correctional Investigator to become involved and prevent further deterioration of the situation unfolding in Kingston today and to prevent future harm to Security Certificate detainees," says Flecker.
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