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COVID Newsletter #2020-2 March 25, 2020

Migrants on Hunger Strike at the Laval Immigration Detention Centre: Act Now in Solidarity

Solidarity Across Borders, March 25, 2020

– Stay in touch! Look here for updates and renewed calls for support

Migrants detained at the Laval Immigration Detention Centre have launched an indefinite hunger strike to demand their release in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 30 men are currently being held on the men’s side of the detention centre. The ten hunger-strikers are refusing all meals, despite pressure from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to desist. Like other prisoners across Canada and around the world, they are demanding to be released for their own safety. Read their statement here.

We are joining the detainees to demand the immediate release of everyone currently detained, safe and decent housing for everyone released, and an end to new detentions!
Free them all!

Support the prisoners (see details and more background info below)

  • In Canada, call Ministers of Health and Public Safety (contacts and script below)
  • Everywhere, echo their demands on social media, alternative media and mainstream media by passing this message on, or by posting or writing articles demanding their release (background on migrant detention in Canada).

Background

The 34 detainees are inmates of the Laval Immigration Prevention Centre, a prison where migrants are held if they don’t have identity documents, or if Canada wants to deport them and does not think they will comply. Detention is an important tool that Canada uses to keep its borders closed to colonized and racialized people from the global south, while continuing to exploit their labour and natural resources.

Afraid for their health, the prisoners in the migrant prison in Laval point out in their petition the high risks of being kept in a confined space. They are exposed to hundreds of guards, food workers, and health staff entering and leaving the facility every day.

Their demand comes as urgent calls for the release of prisoners multiply – in Quebec, across Canada and elsewhere – as a public health imperative. The pandemic has exposed how interrelated we all are in society, within and across borders, within and outside prison. It calls for solidarity with those who will be hit hardest – those already in the most precarious situations, such as detention.

Meanwhile, visits to the prison for migrants have been cancelled, leaving prisoners even more isolated. Detention is already a major source of psychological distress, especially for trauma survivors, in addition to poor nutrition and sleep, and limited access to healthcare. The lack of visits also poses a significant barrier to legal advice. Mandatory detention review hearings now take place by phone. Last week, CBSA announced that it was halting deportations for at least three weeks, but failed to address detention.

On Thursday, March 19th, the detainees issued a call in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their hand-written petition was sent to the Federal Minister of Public Safety, Federal Minister of Immigration, Prime Minister of Canada, the Federal and Quebec Ministers of Health, and international bodies such as the UNHCR. After a week of inaction on the part of government officials, detainees launched an indefinite hunger strike to demand their release.



Contacts

  • Federal Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair
[email protected]
Telephone: 613-995-0284
Fax: 613-996-6309
  • Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendocino
[email protected]
Telephone: 613-954-1064
Fax: 613-952-5533

What to say

– Ten migrant detainees at the Laval Immigration Detention Centre are on hunger strike to demand their release. The situation is urgent and demands immediate action to ensure their safety.
– Locking people inside this facility and taking away their freedom is unjustifiable to begin with, but to force people to remain inside in the midst of a pandemic is beyond unjust, it’s dangerous for everyone
– I am asking for the immediate release of everyone currently detained and decent and safe housing for all of the people who are released.
– I am also asking for an end to new detentions

Communiqué From Prisoners In The Laval Immigration Holding Centre: Hunger-Strike Until We Are Free (Laval, 24 March 2020)

Following the petition we wrote , which had little impact on our situation of detention, we have decided to move to the second phase of our plan. This is to go on an indefinite hunger strike, starting today. This will be done in the most peaceful way and we are not breaking any detention centre rules. Thank you for your support and all help is welcome.
*Petition to free the detainees, sent to Ministers of Immigration and Public Safety on 19 March 2020: We are currently detained at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre. Given the urgent situation of the propagation of the coronavirus, we believe that we are at high risk of contamination. Here in the detention centre we are in a confined space, every day we see the arrival of people, of immigrants, from everywhere, who have had no medical appointment nor any test to determine whether they are potential carriers of the virus. There is also the presence of security staff who are in contact with the external world every day and also have not had any testing. For these reasons we are writing this petition, to ask to be released."

#HungerStrikeLaval #FreeThemAll
Dear Folks,

This is the Kersplebedeb email list, normally devoted to telling you where and when you can buy books i distribute (and sometimes publish); only, all my tabling plans are obviously postponed indefinitely now.

I’m trying something new.

This list will be used proactively to share information about the current unfolding COVID-19 catastrophe, and the resulting political and economic turmoil. These won’t all be articles i agree with, but they will all be articles that i think are worth reading.

Good luck everyone, and stay safe

K

p.s. You can also see previous newsletters or other documents on COVID-19 on the Kersplebedeb website

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