Laval, 2 April 2020 – Migrants detained in the Laval Immigration Holding Centre suspended their hunger strike yesterday as two more of the hunger strikers, including their spokesperson Abdoul, were released. Twenty-two detainees remain in the centre. The migrant detainees’ courageous 8-day hunger strike provoked an outpouring of support from coast to coast and beyond and is helping to draw national attention to the government’s continued failure to include prisoners in COVID-19 public health measures. [Audio statement from “Abdoul” will be released early afternoon.]
“We are appalled that the government continues to flout its own public health recommendations when it comes to these facilities, even as guards and prisoners test positive across the country. It is incredible to us that these men have had to go on a hunger strike to pressure Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to take action,” said Black feminist writer, activist and educator Robyn Maynard, who has been involved in supporting the detainees from Toronto. “Being in a prison or detention centre shouldn’t be a death sentence. ”
The 22 remaining detainees at Laval, like other migrant detainees and prisoners, remain at a high risk of contracting COVID-19. At least one employee at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre has tested positive. Minister Blair has not responded to the calls for immediate, collective release. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is instead slowly releasing migrant detainees through hearings, currently at a rate of three per day.
“Freeing people one by one through detention review hearings is a wholly inadequate response to this urgent crisis,” said Amy Darwish from Solidarity Across Borders. “All detainees, whether in Laval or in other cities, in prisons or in detention centres, must be released immediately with adequate, safe housing ensured.”
“We are part of the same society, part of the same body. Our current public health concerns are exposing this reality, along with the necessity of removing the manufactured barriers and exclusions created by hierarchies of immigration status. The legislated differences must be eradicated. For the good of all: Status for all!” said Darwish.
Daily updates from the men in the Laval Immigration Holding Centre: here.
Follow the campaign: here and on twitter.
Source: Solidarity Across Borders