b. What you can do
c. Letter from health professionals
d. Today's Press release
==> UPDATE ON SECRET TRIAL DETAINEES HUNGERSTRIKE
Secret trial detainees Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Hassan Almrei are still on a hunger strike. As of Tuesday January 23, 2007, Mohammad Mahjoub has been on hunger strike for 60 days, while Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei have been on hunger strike for 49 days. The federal government is refusing to negotiate with the men. During all this time, the men have been drinking only orange juice and occasionally clear broth. The men are not being medically monitored and the failure to provide appropriate medical monitoring and care could lead to very serious consequences.
In response to this critical situation, a group of health workers have written and released a letter (included below) to Minister Stockwell Day stating their concerns and the urgent need for all three men to be monitored on a daily basis.
On January 8, 2007 the three detainees released an open letter which stated, "Like the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, we are held indefinitely. This is a kind of psychological torture that is almost unimaginable. We do not know when, or if, we will be released from jail. We have been very patient and done our best to deal with a process where it is impossible to defend yourself. And we will remain patient, because we know that ultimately, we will be let out, because we are innocent men. But sometimes there is only so much human beings should be required to accept before they raise their voice in peaceful protest. We do not want to be on hunger strike. It is hard on us and our families. But it is the only voice we have."
* To read the detainees' open letter in full visit http://homesnotbombs.ca/openletter.htm
==> YOUR SUPPORT FOR THE HUNGER STRIKE IS URGENTLY NEEDED!
* Call, email, or fax the offices of Stockwell Day, Diane Finley and Stephen Harper to express support for the basic demands of the men (see open letter above) and ask:
1. Why can't the men be provided with medical care?
2. Why can't the federal government appoint a neutral mediator to immediately deal with the problems, and set up a system to deal with ongoing issues that is balanced and fair?
3. Will the men have to die for a little bit of dignity?
4. If the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre will not send in health care staff (something they did before September), will the government allow an independent outside doctor in to check on the men?
Stockwell Day, "Public Safety Minister"
Phone: (613) 995-1702, Fax: (613) 995.1154, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Diane Finley, Immigration Minister,
tel. (866) 496-3400, email@example.com, fax
PM Stephen Harper
Phone (613) 992-4211; Fax: 613-941-6900, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Write a support letter to the detainees (email email@example.com so we can monitor if mail is getting through): Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Hassan Almrei can be reached: Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, c/o CSC RHQ Ontario Region, 440 King Street West, PO Box 1174, Kingston, Ontario K7L 4Y8
==> LETTER FROM HEALTH PROFESSIONALS ON THE HEALTH STATUS OF DETAINEES
January 23, 2007
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada
Vice President, Enforcement
Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA)
Re: HEALTH STATUS of Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei
Dear Minister Day, Dear Mme. Deschênes,
As health professionals, we are deeply concerned about the health status of Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei, who are detained at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC) under security certificates and currently on a liquids-only hunger strike.
As of today (January 22, 2007), Mohammad Mahjoub has been on hunger strike for 60 days, while Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei have been on hunger strike for 49 days. During all this time, they have been drinking only orange juice and occasionally clear broth.
We are extremely worried about the fact that KIHC is not medically monitoring the vital signs and general health status of the hunger strikers. This failure to provide appropriate medical monitoring and care could lead to very serious consequences. When a detainee observes a severe voluntary fast, as is the case here, it is absolutely essential that the correctional institution's medical staff regularly monitor the person's vital signs (i.e., blood pressure, cardiac and respiratory rate) as well as serum electrolyte levels. Failure to do so violates basic principles of ethical health care.
In an editorial in the prestigious British Medical Journal on health professionals' obligations in the context of hunger strikes, Dr. Michael Peel wrote: "Conclusions from studies recommend independent medical monitoring after a weight loss of 10% in lean healthy individuals. If the pre-hunger strike weight is unknown, a maximum of 10 days' hunger strike, or a body mass index of less than 16.5 kg/m2, should be the trigger." In the case of the three men currently on hunger strike at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, the 10-day 'trigger' is long past, so there can be no doubt that medical monitoring must be provided immediately.
After hunger strikes varying from 49 to 60 days, all three men are at risk of severe hypotension or hypertension, renal failure, cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure, and a variety of other potentially life-threatening disorders.
We are particularly concerned for the health of Mohammad Mahjoub, who has not received treatment for his hepatitis C since September 2006, and is now on Day 60 of his hunger strike. All three men already had health problems resulting from their lengthy detention without charge (5 to 6 _ years), often in solitary confinement or other harsh conditions, denied access to a fair trial, with no end in sight, and under constant threat of deportation to countries where they are at risk of torture. Indeed, the Federal Court recognized in December 2006 that there is a serious likelihood that Mohammad Mahjoub would be tortured if returned to Egypt, his country of origin; just as it recognized in the case of Mahmoud Jaballah in an earlier decision. Hassan Almrei is threatened with deportation to Syria, where Canadian citizen Maher Arar experienced horrifying torture. In addition, Mr. Mahjoub and Mr. Jaballah are particularly vulnerable to a variety of health difficulties because they are torture survivors. Finally, all three men have health problems linked to previous hunger strikes, including a 2005 hunger strike that lasted 79 days in the case of Mr. Mahjoub and 73 days in the case of Mr. Almrei. These antecedents increase the likelihood that the hunger strikers may experience life-threatening disorders.
For all these reasons, we believe that it is urgent that all three men undergo a thorough medical examination by a qualified independent physician, as well as being monitored on a daily basis by medical personnel at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre.
Janet Cleveland, Ph.D., psychologist, Montreal
Marie Munoz, MD, Montreal
Nazila Bettache, MD, Montreal
Scott Weinstein, RN, Montreal
Olivier Sabella, MD, Montreal
Gerald van Gurp, MD, Montreal
Amir Khadir, MD, Montreal
Helen Hudson, Masters candidate, Nursing, Montreal
Marie-Jo Ouimet, MD, Montreal
Pierre Dongier, MD, Montreal
Faiza Majeed, MD, Toronto
Mandeep Dhillon, MD, Vancouver
Valerie Zink, primary care paramedic, Vancouver
Aida Sadr, MD, Vancouver
Jen Green, ND, Toronto
Thierry Bégin, MD, Montreal
Cathy Crowe, RN, Toronto
Sylvain Couture, MD, Montreal
Misty Malott, MSc(A) Nursing, Montreal
Faiz Ahmad Khan, MD, Montreal
Samir Shaheen-Hussain, MD, Montreal
McGill Nurses for Global Health (MNGH), Montreal
Annie Janvier, MD, Montreal
Ghassan B. Alami, MD, Montreal
Khurram Sher, MD, Montreal
Monika Dutt, MD, Toronto
Diana R. Ahmed, MD, Hamilton
Nicolas Bergeron, MD, Montreal
Bruno Pelletier, MD, Montreal
Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD, Director, Division of Social & Transcultural
Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal
Marie-Michelle Bellon, MD, Montreal
Renée Joyal, MD, Cowansville
Isabelle Nicolas, MD Cowansville
Vicky Champagne, nurse, Cowansville
Stéphanie Lapointe, nurse, Cowansville
Marc-André Ryan, nurse, Cowansville
Jaswant Guzder, MD, Montreal
Joan Schwartzenberger, Registered Clinical Counsellor, Victoria
Joëlle Nédélec, MD, Montreal
Irene Sarasua, RN, Montreal
Sidney Maynard, MD, Montreal
Jessica Lyons, 3rd Year Collaborative Nursing, Ryerson University, Toronto
Makeda Semret, MD, Montreal
Martine Eloy, nurse, Montreal
Elaine Lafond, MD, Cowansville
Emilie Davoine, MD, Cowansville
Cécile Rousseau, MD, MSc. - Professor, Psychiatry Dept., McGill University,
Anousheh Machouf, Psychologist, Montreal
Sylvie Laurion, Ph.D., Psychologist, Montreal
Réseau d'intervention pour les personnes ayant subi la violence organisée
John Docherty, Coordinator of RIVO, Montreal
Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, Toronto
Mulugeta Abai, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Victims of
Kathy Hardill, RNEC, Nurse Practitioner, Toronto
Chantal Gravel, M.Ps., Psychologist, Montreal
Allison Campbell, registered midwife, Vancouver
Natya Raghavan, MD, Kingston
Will Offley, RN, Vancouver
Anna Cooper, RN, Vancouver
Navdeep Sidhu, MD, Sasketchewan
Megan Oleson, RN, Vancouver
Kyla Ives, Licensed Practical Nurse, Vancouver
Michèle Marois, Infirmière, Gatineau
M. Jane Pritchard, M.D., CCFP, FCFP
Kathryn Leccese, medical student, Montreal
Stephane Voyer, MD, Montreal
==> PRESS RELEASE
'Security Certificate' hunger strikes: health professionals 'deeply concerned' by lack of medical monitoring
23 January 2007 - Almost 70 health professionals and organizations from across the country today called on Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to take immediate action to address the situation of three men on hunger strike at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, known as Canada's 'Guantanamo North'. Mohammad Mahjoub has been on hunger strike for 60 days, while for Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei it has been 49 days. The men, who have been held for years without charge under secret evidence, are protesting their conditions of detention.
In a joint letter addressed to Day, whose Ministry is responsible for the prison, the group of health professionals wrote, "We are extremely worried about the fact that KIHC is not medically monitoring the vital signs and general health status of the hunger strikers. This failure to provide appropriate medical monitoring and care could lead to very serious consequences. (.) all three men are at risk of severe hypotension or hypertension, renal failure, cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure, and a variety of other potentially life-threatening disorders."
One of the signatories, Dr. Janet Cleveland, added, "By not conducting daily medical checks of the hunger strikers' vital signs, the Canadian Border Services Agency is recklessly placing the hunger strikers' lives at risk. Kingston Immigration Holding Centre medical personnel have a duty to take all steps necessary to protect the life of hunger strikers, which in this instance means going to their cells to check their vital signs and serum electrolyte levels every day."
"Penal institutions have certain obligations toward inmates, even those who have been convicted of heinous crimes, including the duty to provide them with adequate health care. How can the prison authorities justify not providing medical care to these three men, who have never been charged with any crime, much less convicted?" said Professor Daniel Weinstock, Director of the Centre de recherche en éthique de l'Université de Montréal, who has acted as a consultant on ethical issues with Corrections Canada.
The letter also noted that, "All three men already had health problems resulting from their lengthy detention without charge (5 to 6 ½ years), often in solitary confinement or other harsh conditions, denied access to a fair trial, with no end in sight, and under constant threat of deportation to countries where they are at risk of torture. .... In addition, Mr. Mahjoub and Mr. Jaballah are particularly vulnerable to a variety of health difficulties because they are torture survivors. Finally, all three men have health problems linked to previous hunger strikes, including a 2005 hunger strike that lasted 79 days in the case of Mr. Mahjoub and 73 days in the case of Mr. Almrei. These antecedents increase the likelihood that the hunger strikers may experience life-threatening disorder."
The hunger strikers are asking for minor improvements in their conditions, including protection from harassment by guards, access to medical care, access to media, the right to weekend conjugal visits, and a grievance process, which has been ordered by a court but never implemented. In an open letter published earlier this month, they wrote, "We wish to be reunited with our loved ones, but until that time comes, we want to live with as much dignity as is possible while we are at Guantanamo North."
Canada's 'security certificate' process has come under severe criticism within Canada and internationally in past years. However, Canada has refused to halt deportation proceedings against the men, despite the risk of torture, and continues to hold three in prison and two others - Mohamed Harkat of Ottawa and Adil Charkaoui of Montreal - under severe conditions of release, amounting to house arrest in the case of Mr. Harkat.
==> MORE INFORMATION
Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, (416) 651-5800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Hungerstrike Support Committee, email@example.com, tel. 514 859 9023
Justice for Adil Charkaoui: www.adilinfo.org
Justice for Mohamed Harkat: www.zerra.net/freemohamed