Hunger-strikers want to meet Goodale
Dozens of immigration detainees have entered a dangerous phase of their protest hunger strike, but there was little sign that the federal government would meet their demands.
Among those demands are an immediate meeting with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and a 90-day limit on such detentions.
“Sometimes, it feels like we’re being kidnapped and held against our own wills,” Richard Chinedu Abuwa said over the phone on Thursday from the Central East Correctional Centre, where he has been for more than two years. “Some of us sit here for months, years, and years upon end not knowing what our futures hold for us, and it just really sucks.”
Abuwa was one of more than 50 detainees who began refusing food — and in some cases liquids as well — 11 days ago. As of Wednesday, the federal government said, 15 detainees at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay were still refusing meals.
Dr. Michelle Fraser, one of 65 doctors who wrote to Goodale last week urging he meet the detainees, warned the strikers could soon start suffering serious, potentially lethal health effects.
“It is shameful that 50 immigration detainees must resort to a hunger strike to capture the attention of the Canadian government,” Fraser said. “This hunger strike is a sign of the desperation.”
Since 2000, at least 15 people have died in Canadian immigration detention — three since the Liberal government came to office.
A spokesman for Goodale said Thursday the minister has a plan that will “align” with the United Nation’s global strategy on the detention issue. The plan, Scott Bardsley said, would be released “in the near future.” He also said detention was “always a last resort” and only allowed when someone’s identity is uncertain or a person poses a flight risk or danger to the public.