Monday, February 12, 2007
"We may not have much more time, so please keep up the pressure in standing for our rights. We thank you for your kindness and support."
-- Open Letter from Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub, Hassan Almrei, Day 80 of hunger strike (full text below)
MAHJOUB ON WATER-ONLY FAST; ALL THREE MEN VERY WEAK
The next few days will be crucial as Mohammad Mahjoub marks day 80 of his hunger strike, day 69 for Mahmoud Jaballah and Hassan Almrei.
Until now, all three have been on a juice and water fast. Desperate at federal authorities' steadfast refusal to discuss detainees' demands and at having being detained for nearly 7 years without a trial, Mahjoub has now ceased drinking juice and is only consuming water. This very substantially increases the risk to his health and life.
The three men are very weak. Last week the men finally got a supervisor to escort them next door to see health care staff. A doctor assessed the men and was shocked at their condition: Mahjoub and Jaballah were both found to have very high blood pressure and to have lost a significant amount of weight. Mahjoub's blood pressure was 162/110 and he weighs 145 lbs (down from 220) and Jaballah has lost about 45 pounds.
The doctor said both require daily monitoring of blood pressure, and are at risk of sudden stroke because of hypertension. Mahjoub requires an ultrasound to look at his kidney and prostate. "We were told we are in a bad situation," Mahjoub said. Both he and Jaballah have blood in their urine; Mahjoub also has sugar in his urine and soreness in his kidneys.
However, the prison authorities have refused to guarantee that the detainees will be escorted by a supervisor (rather than a guard) to go to the administration building for medical care on a permanent basis (one of their major demands, given incidents of harassment by certain guards) The authorities wrote on Friday: "Given the duration of your hunger strike it is to be considered extenuating circumstances. In order to ensure your health and well-being extraordinary measures were implemented." The administration appears ready to let the men die rather than fix the problem.
MPs VISIT GUANTANAMO NORTH THIS MORNING
This morning, members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration will visit Guantanamo North and spend most of the day meeting with Mahjoub, Jaballah and Almrei.
As a result of strong public pressure from across Canada, both the Standing Committee on Public Safety and the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration passed emergency resolutions last week asking that the Office of the Correctional Investigator be mandated to negotiate a settlement of the hunger strike, and subsequently to act as ombudsperson for the detainees. Conservative Senator Hugh Segal has called for immediate government intervention to resolve the hunger strike, as have Amnesty International and many other organizations.
IT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER TO KEEP UP PRESSURE ON THE GOVERNMENT
1. First and foremost, until the hunger strike is resolved, please keep calling and writing to Stockwell Day demanding that he appoint the Correctional Investigator to assume jurisdiction over the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre. Also demand that the KIHC provide supervisors
for when the men need to move throughout the facility, whether for health care, family visits, or media visits.
Phone: (613) 995-1702
Fax: (613) 995.1154
Call Stephen Harper with the same message: resolve the hunger strike, appoint the Correctional Investigator
Phone: (613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900
2. Call the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC) and ask to speak to the directors, Cindy Berry, and or/ Cathy Kench. Both have shown a shocking lack of urgency with respect to the hunger strike. If they are not in definitely ask for their voice mail and raise the points below. Also fax letters to them calling for:
a. A permanent written arrangement whereby supervisors can be made available so that the men can safely move throughout the facility without fear of misconduct or false allegations by the guards. In a facility with 23 staff and 3 detainees, such arrangements should not be difficult to make.
b. Immediate and ongoing medical care, including expediting surgery for Mr. Jaballah's double hernia, treatment for Mahjoub's Hepatitis C, and surgery for Almrei's knee injury. Medical treatment cannot be dangled in front of the men as something they'll receive only if they comply with petty prison rules.
c. Develop an atmosphere of care that treats the men as human beings, not as animals in cages. This means sitting down with the men and having honest and sincere dialogue about the many issues they raise. It also means recognizing that you are not an objective party, and that the only way to solve these problems is to turn them over to an independent ombudsperson, the Office of the Correctional Investigator.
CONTACT INFO. FOR KINGSTON IMMIGRATION HOLDING CENTRE:
Phone for Cindy Berry: (613) 351-8805
Direct line to Cathy Kench, Director, (613) 351-8812
Fax Number: (613) 351-8818 or (613) 351-8822
Please be polite in your calls to the facility: any verbal abuse will only be turned on the men.
LINKS TO DOCUMENTS
Document responding to six lies and distortions made by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day:
Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration discussion,
Amnesty International editorial, Ottawa Citizen,
Stay in touch: Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org,
OPEN LETTER FROM MAHMOUD JABALLAH, MOHAMMAD MAHJOUB, HASSAN ALMREI ON DAY 80 OF HUNGER STRIKE
We are the undersigned Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Hassan Almrei. We have been imprisoned over six years under so-called security certificates. We have never been convicted of any crime, much less charged with one. We have been told we are dangerous to the security of Canada and a threat to the public, without even seeing anything in evidence against us. Neither our lawyers or ourselves have the right to challenge or see what the government claims they have on us. These rights everybody takes for granted in this country or in any country that applies the rule of democracy.
Since our arrests we have been thrown in solitary confinement for years without any explanation, surviving in a small, concrete, frozen cell. We faced many difficulties in practicing our religion, or contacting our families, and countless nights without sleeping from hunger.
On April 24, 2006, the government decided to move us to a new facility after the provincial government's refusal to keep us in their detention centre. From that time we are detained in a small trailer parked in a parking lot on the grounds of Millhaven.
Shortly after our arrival here we realized that we are in a no-man's land and everybody applies his own rules: guards, supervisors, directors. We don't know whose rules we should follow. Policies change by the shift. We thought our life at this facility will be better than Toronto West Detention Centre. Were we wrong in our thoughts? This is all humiliating and insulting not only for ourselves but to our families as well.
We requested repeatedly that these unjust treatments be changed and to be treated as adult human beings. When all our requests and complaints have been rejected by the director to cover up her staff's wrongdoing, we decided to engage in a hunger strike, which is the last option for us to change our conditions.
We are on a hunger strike for the last 80 days for Mahjoub, 69 days for Jaballah and Almrei. Until recently, we have never seen a doctor to treat us, not even one single time, even though we requested daily to see a doctor and get treatment. We would only see a nurse behind the closed door through a small glass window. We are unable to get to the so-called treatment room because of our fear of our own safety from the guards because we have been abused by them many times.
There were many many media reports about our hunger strike and 2 visits by Members of Parliament and several questions put to the government in the House of Commons about our conditions and hunger strike. Only then did the CBSA [Canadian Border Services Agency] decide to send a doctor to see us on February 7, 2007, for the first time, and order a supervisor to escort us to the treatment room to see a doctor and a nurse. We have requested a supervisor to escort us any time we have to move in the facility. The supervisor is only now being provided temporarily. This is not a solution.
We feel some small changes have happened here because of pressure from the public and MPs. But we still need your help to fix the big problems here. We may not have much more time, so please keep up the pressure in standing for our rights. We thank you for all of your kindness and support. May Allah bless you and reward you for all of your efforts.
Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub, Hassan Almrei.
(letter dictated by phone to the Campaign to Stop Secret trials in Canada)