Hunger-strik­ers want to meet Goodale

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - COLIN PERKEL

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.

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