Monday, December 12, 2011

Jailed Refugees Held Without Charge and Refused Medical Care - Ontario and Vancouver

While the below stories of human rights abuses have occurred in one form or another throughout Canadian history, and right up to the present,incidents are sure to increase and intensify during this period of severe conservative, right wing, christian, fundamentalist ideology.  The safe streets and communities act is only one disgusting portrayal of a widespread, mainstream rhetoric which blames the oppressed for the outcomes of policies designed by the oppressors!

Ontario Prisoners
Refugee claimants in Ontario are engaged in a water only hunger strike which began in mid November. Unfortunately the issues facing these men is nothing unusual for correctional facilities of the Canadian state.

They are being held in Niagara detention centre far from family and supporters who live here in Toronto. They have been denied medical care, which for at least one of them is urgent and must be provided immediately.

From My Own Experience;
As some of you may know I have done all of my time in detention centres and regional facilities throughout Southern Ontario. It is far too common for medical needs to be brushed aside by non-medial staff (guards) who should have no say one way or the other about who gets to see a doctor or nurse and who does not!

  • Please see below for details on organizing support for these prisoners.
  • Please read on for details about the process to attain medical care and what prisoners in these type of facilities are subjected to in that process. (if I have left anything out or you have your own story to share please leave a comment!)

Process to Request Medical Attention inside
  1. Ask a guard for a request form
  2. Guard will often ignore you for 1-5 days or more
  3. Finally you receive a request form, fill it out and drop it in a bin to be retrieved and processed by guards later on. (This part of the process can take several days as well)
  4. Approximately 3-6 weeks after your initial request you are finally called to attend the doctor. Depending on the reason for requesting a doctors visit this time frame can be much longer. 

    Games they Play:
    If you keep asking the guards at any part during this process in the hopes of speeding things up, they will make you pay.
  • They may do "funny" things like give you the wrong type of request form and not tell you until weeks later when you inquire to find out when you will be attending the doctor. Then the process begins again.
  • They may write you up for approaching them at all
  • You could end up in Seg.
  • You could lose good time.
  • They could come into your cell at night and kick the shit out of you... (it happens - dont doubt it)
  • You may find yourself in serious medical crisis at some point and then find yourself ignored.

    I have personally witnessed this last on many occasions.  And have witnessed the worst that could happen in this situation, happen.  It instills a kind of fear thats hard to imagine unless you experience being held somewhere against your will and knowing that there is little and sometimes nothing you can do for your own safety and even your own survival.  It rests in the hands of people who not only don't give a fuck, but who are often times sadistic.  They work in a culture which encourages the deepest degree of violence and callousness as twisted badges of honour.
  • Always proceed with caution, try to think about the worst that could happen and try to avoid it
  • There are times to keep your head down and let them run their games if it is the straightest route to getting medical care, do it
  • There are other times to put your foot down and make demands – but always consider your future safety and let family/friends/supports know if you have decided on the “put your foot down” route

Practical Tips:
  • Try to figure out from other prisoners who is the best guard to ask for a request form
  • You are not supposed to make request directly from medical staff but can get away with it under certain circumstances. The nurse delivers meds to each range twice per day at least. Stand in line for some “aspirin” and ask to be put on the doctors list. She may ask for some form of proof. If there is physical evidence I suggest showing it or referencing mention of it in your med file, etc.
  • You can approach a third party in the community for support. There are two agencies who take collect calls and who have experience advocating for prisoners. They know how best to approach a situation so as to minimise a prisoners risk of retaliatory action.
    PASAN: Toll Free: 1-866-224-9978 Phone: 416-920-9567
    Office of the Ontario Ombudsman: Phone: 1-800-263-1830 – Complaints Line
Either of these services can direct you to other numbers if a more appropriate one exists.

Organizing Supporters for Ontario
EMAIL: Regional Director
CALL HIM: 905-994-6000
CALL: Niagara Detention Centre 905-227-6321
DEMAND: that the hunger strikers be immediately transferred to Toronto and get access to urgent medical care.
EMERGENCY PUBLIC MTG.: Thursday, December 15, 6:30pm OPIRG Info Shop - 21 King St. (St. Catharines, ON)

Ontario Prisoners
Sergio Puerto, Sandro Philippe, Jesus Galban, and Ibrahim Ali Farrah refugee claimants from Latin America and the Caribbean and Southern Africa have been jailed at the Niagara Detention Centre for between 3 to 6 months. Other then 10 minutes a day in a concrete yard - they have been locked up without community support. In mid-November, they began water-only hunger strike demanding that their release be expedited and that they be moved to Toronto where they hope their files will be processed quicker. On November 23, Jesus Galban, fell six feet and was denied medical aid until they ended the hunger strike. Officers from Canada Border Services Agency promised immediate action on their file, but did nothing. On December 11, 2011, Sergio Puerto, Sandro Philippe, Jesus Galban and Ibrahim Ali Farrah re-initiated a rolling hunger strike.

  • That the inmates be immediately transferred to Toronto where they believe their cases will be quickly expedited and where they all have family and community support.
  • That Citizenship and Immigration stop delaying justice by keeping all immigration detainees an unreasonably long time in detention for no reason.
  • Immediate medical assistance for: Jesus - had an accident on November 23rd. Fell off a six foot bunk that had no ladder. Back severely injured and no doctor has attended despite repeated requests. Only medication given so far has been Tylenol Pain Relief. Sandro also having problems with his back- slipped and fell (water on floor) in mid November. Has still received no medical attention.
Canada Border Services Agency has given endless excuses for holding these men. They claim that they are flight risks, even before some of their refugee claims have been processed. Some are facing deportation because of criminal convictions in Canada and the United States even though they have already served their sentences - a clear example of unjust double punishment.
Attempts by community members to act as bonds-people and even put up financial sureties have been rejected. Faced with lack of information, and continued lies by Canada Border Services Agency, Sergio, Sandro, Jesus and Ibrahim have decided to initiate a hunger strike.
It is critical that we support them.

We will be organizing actions in St. Catharines, Niagara and Toronto.
Please email if you would like to attend an organizing meeting or if you would like to be informed about upcoming action.
Join our facebook page:

Immigration enforcement injustices are forcing migrants, undocumented people in detention across Canada to act.

Vancouver Prisoner
We have heard of a hunger strike taking place at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre (BC): Examples are being set by imprisoned undocumented people - it is imperative that we follow and support. For a world without detentions and deportations, for a world where all can move freely, Niagara Migrant Hunger Strikers Support Network

Vancouver Man Detained for Years Without Charge, on Hunger Strike!
Yes its true! Yet another prisoner held for years on Canadian soil and without charges! He is also on hunger strike! Keep reading:

Court Support at Detention Hearing. Thursday, December 15th at 11:00 am. Citizenship and Immigration Offices, 300 West Georgia Street
Nader is a 46 year old Iranian refugee who has been detained and imprisoned by Canadian Border Services Agency since 2005. Nader has spent over six years behind bars, without any specific charges, under the jurisdiction of the Immigration Act.
His length of detention is unprecedented in Canada.
Nader has now been on a three-week hunger strike and will be appearing yet again for a detention review on Thursday December 15th at 11 am at CIC offices (300 West Georgia). He is calling on the public and allies in the anti-detention movement to bear witness to this arbitrary, inhumane, and indefinite detention hearing. No One Is Illegal attended his last hearing and he said that it was a huge boost in morale for him. (We ask supporters to please keep in mind about bearing witness and to be cautious of how our conduct will reflect/impact on him.)
Nader arrived to Canada from Iran with his wife and young son in 1997 as political refugees. At the time they made a claim based on her persecution in Iran as a dissident. The family’s claim was initially rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board in 2000 and shortly after Nader and his wife separated. His (now ex) wife and son subsequently were granted legal status but Nader was ordered removed from Canada.
The unjust and cruel rationale provided for his ongoing detention by the Immigration and Refugee Board is simply the fact that he refuses to sign documents for his own deportation to Iran. Canadian Border Services have argued for ongoing (essentially infinite) detention because Nader is deemed to be “non cooperative in signing documents”. They want him to sign a document which states he is returning ‘voluntarily’, absolving Canada of its complicity in his involuntary removal and using detention to pressure him to lie about his own deportation!
Though he has not been charged or convicted, for six years Nader has been incarcerated at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre, a maximum security provincial facility. This facility is mandated for short-term offenders whose sentence does not exceed two years. Short term facilities such as FRCC lack the infrastructure and resources to house and accommodate long-term inmates. Nader has reported that he has been subjected to a poor diet and lack of quality health care at FRCC. Without internet and law library materials (which are available at other federal facilities), he has been unable to defend and advocate for himself.
Nader continues to face risk in Iran – the same risk his (now ex) wife and son were granted asylum for in Canada. Nader has never even had a refugee claim heard on the basis of his own experience in Iran and fear of persecution if deported back to Iran. Nader has recently filed a Pre Removal Risk Assessment and will be pursuing other legal avenues given the trauma he has suffered in Iran and now in Canada.
According to Nader, “The length of my detention has not been predicated on any evidence that I am a ‘threat to national security’ or that my release poses any ‘risk to the public safety’. Yet I have endured the psychological trauma of confinement and the emotional suffering and anxiety of being separated from my son (who has since been granted asylum in Canada).”
There will be ongoing support for Nader, we invite you to please come out on Thursday December 15th and say no to detentions and deportations!
For more information please email or call 778 552 2099.

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