Canada’s Secret Trial Detainees on Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Bay North, Kingston, Ontario

Denial of Medical Treatment, Lack of Personal Safety Among Key Issues

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2006 — For the second time this year, three men held at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC) — a $3.2 million facility within Millhaven Penitentiary for security certificate detainees — have gone on hunger strike to protest their conditions of detention. As of today, December 15, Mohammad Mahjoub has been without food for 20 days, and Hassan Almrei and Mahmoud Jaballah for nine days.

Most pressing among many demands is immediate medical treatment for Mr. Mahjoub, who has been denied access to medical care for hepatitis C and high blood pressure since September. The men are also demanding that a supervisor (not a guard) escort them between the “living unit” and the administration building (where they receive visitors and exercise). The men are concerned about the potential for mistreatment at the hands of some (not all) guards at the facility, as well as about the fact that false allegations have been made against the men by some (but not all) guards at the facility. The presence of a supervisor is the only way they have to guarantee their safety, and there is no reason why one cannot be available during daylight hours (the facility, which imprisons three men, is top-heavy with staff: two directors, two secretaries, seven supervisors, 12 guards).

The detainees also feel that one way of ending the negative way in which they are often treated is to replace Corrections Service Canada guards with individuals from the Canadian Border Services Agency.

KIHC officials claim Mr. Mahjoub can get his medication if he goes to the administration building, but he refuses to go without a supervisory escort. Medical personnel often come to the “living unit,” but they are not bringing his medication there. Because Mr. Mahjoub fears for his safety and refuses to go to the administration building without an escort, he is being punished, and his health is subsequently impaired. Such bureaucratic pettiness at KIHC is something out of a Soviet Gulag, not a 21st century democracy.

More information: Hunger strike.