Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada
PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
(416) 651-5800, email@example.com, www.homesnotbombs.ca
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 14, 2003
Supporters of Secret Trial Hunger-Striking Prisoner to Release Damning Internal Government Document Showing How Lethal the Cold at Metro West Detention Centre Can Be: Press Conference, Tuesday, October 14, 12 Noon
Hassan Almrei, held almost Two Years in Solitary Confinement, now in 16th day of Hunger Strike Demanding Heat in His Cell; Supporters to Deliver Space Heater to Ministry to Give to Almrei
Where: Ministry of Public Safety and Security, 25 Grosvenor (two blocks north of College, half block west of Yonge -- "George Drew" building, across from YMCA)
When: Tuesday, October 14, 12 Noon
What: Fasting Supporters of Syrian refugee Hassan Almrei -- who has lost 25 pounds on his hunger strike to get adequate heat in his freezing solitary confinement cell, where he is not allowed shoes or a sweater -- will release an internal government document linking the cold at Metro West to a death there. They will also deliver a space heater to give to Hassan. If the government won't heat his cell, we will!
Who: Among those at the press conference are Almrei's attorney Barbara Jackman; Diana Ralph, a Jewish woman who will be in the 9th day of a support fast for Almrei; Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada
At a press conference at 12 noon Tuesday, October 14, supporters of 29-year-old Syrian refugee Hassan Almrei will attempt to deliver a space heater to the Ministry of Public Safety and Security (25 Grosvenor) and also release a leaked internal government document clearly showing a link between the severe cold at Metro West Detention Centre's solitary confinement cells and a death there.
On the 14th, Almrei will begin day 16 of his punishing hunger strike from solitary confinement at Metro West Detention Centre. All he wants is adequate heat in his cell, where he has shivered for the past two winters, and where he cannot sleep at night because the cold is so severe. He is not allowed shoes or a sweater, a violation of the UN Minimum Prison Standards to which Canada is signatory.
Almrei, held on a CSIS security certificate without charge, is not allowed to see the secret "evidence" against him, nor is his lawyer, Barbara Jackman. "Combine that mental torture of not knowing why you are being held, being threatened with deportation to a xcountry where you will likely be tortured and killed, with the physical torture of never being warm during fall, winter and spring, and this amounts to a serious human rights violation," says campaign spokesperson Matthew Behrens.
While the Ontario government has pretended the cold does not pose a problem, an internal government document leaked to the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials clearly shows that severe cold in solitary confinement has led to at least one death at Metro West Detention Centre, and that a coroner's inquest into that death recommended more humane treatment in the solitary confinement cells, a recommendation which clearly has not been acted upon.
Almrei's supporters, many of whom are fasting on Tuesday, will also attempt to deliver a space heater to the ministry.
"If the government won't fix the problem, we have a ready-made solution in this portable space heater for Hassan," explains Diana Ralph, who will be in the 9th day of her hunger strike in support of the detainee. "The government can even bill us for the cost of heating his cell, just so long as he can be warm."
Almrei has lost over 110 pounds during his stay in his concrete solitary confinement cell, and almost 25 pounds in the past two weeks.
A report last week by Amnesty International Canada condemned the secretive security certificate process which currently holds 5 Muslim men a collective 104 months without charge or bail, on secret "evidence" neither they nor their lawyers are allowed to see, in Canadian prisons.
Campaign members will stage a 12 noon rally on Sunday, October 19 at the jail and will also demonstrate at CSIS Ottawa headquarters on October 31.
Some two dozen people are fasting internationally on Tuesday in support of Almrei, from Seattle to Ottawa to Uzbekistan. In Toronto, fasters include Tina Lopes (Exec. Dir. of Committee to Support Victims of Torture); Avi Zer-Aviv (a Jewish man recently back from solidarity work with Palestinians opposed to the Wall); Harvey Weisfeld (co-founder of Tikkun Toronto); Yitzak Weinstock (co-founder of Tikkun Toronto); theatre director and writer Laurel Smith; high school student Kate Smith-Devlin, Diana Ralph (Tikkun member, Assoc. Prof. Carleton University); and Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada.
A scanned picture of Hassan Almrei is available to print and electronic media upon request. For more info. call (416) 651-5800 or cellphone (416) 301-4514.
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