MONTREAL: Migrant Detainees Are on Hunger Strike

By Alexis J.

As the COVID-19 crisis worsens large sections of the Candian proletariat are feeling the brunt of the pandemic. In the midst of a failed healthcare system and an absence of any meaningful relief plan, mass working-class organizations are being forged.

All over the country, mutual aid programs that help provide supplies and groceries for community members are springing up. As well as tenants associations calling for rent strikes and worker unions demanding safer worker conditions.

In the Laval, Quebec immigration detention centre, ten people are on their fourth day of a hunger strike.

The strikers say they are concerned because of the conditions at the facility.  The detention centre is run by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) which puts them at a high risk of contracting the virus.

Several days ago nearly 30 detainees signed a handwritten letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, CBSA President John Ossowski, and other government officials. In the letter, they demand immediate release due to the high risk of contracting COVID-19.

The detainees are cramped in close living quarters, many new detainees have not had medical checks or COVID-19 tests and the prison personnel come in and out of the facility frequently.

Abdoul, the pseudonym of one of the strikers said, “We know that if a single person comes in with the virus, we’ll all be contaminated at the same time. It’s a preventative measure… We don’t want to wait for disaster to strike.”

Experts have even already recommended government action saying that the detainment conditions are too dangerous for the spread of COVID-19 – the centres cannot even implement the policies laid out by Public Health officials such as handwashing with soap and social distancing.

A campaign to support the strikers has been organized and they are calling on people to call and email Bill Blair with the people’s demands.

From comrade Abdoul, “We all feel like we’re getting weaker. We haven’t eaten for 24 hours. But we’re still holding on… we don’t want to wait for death here. We want to be safe like all other people. We just want to be treated normally.”

You can reach Bill Blair at

Email: Bill.Blair@parl.gc.ca

Telephone: 613-995-0284

Fax: 613-996-6309

Or the Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendocino

Email: Minister@cic.gc.ca

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 were released

-I am also asking for an end to new detentions.

 

Laval, Quebec is the occupied territory of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, Mohawk and the Huron-Wendat Nations.

 

Article reference: https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/939v7v/laval-quebec-immigration-detainees-are-on-a-hunger-strike-over-coronavirus-fears

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