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Solidarity with Isa Haider Al-Aali and all of immigration detainees

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We are writing to firmly express our solidarity with the campaign to stop the deportation of Isa Haider Al-Aali, and all of the migrants being jailed in detention centres across the United Kingdom. Nearly three weeks ago, over 150 detainees in the privately-run Harmondsworth detention centre – Britain's largest detention facility – started a hunger strike that spread to four of the UK's 10 detention centres.

Hundreds of detainees locked up without charges refused food and occupied common spaces, demanding better prison conditions, access to medical services and legal aid, and the an end to the asylum “Fast Track,” which jails refugee claimants upon arrival and denies their right to appeal court decisions. They are detained for the duration of their claims while 99% of applications are denied. In an attempt to punish detainees for their resistance, strike organizers were moved to other detention centres or placed into solitary confinement.

Among the striking detainees is Isa Haider Al-Aali, a 19-year old refugee claimant from Bahrain. He is fighting his imminent deportation, despite having been repeatedly and violently targeted by the Bahraini state for his human rights organizing since 2011. By fast-tracking his claim, Al-Aali, like many others, could not obtain effective legal representation and therefor unable to present vital documents in support of his claim. He therefor faces imminent return to Bahrain where he is recognized by several human rights NGOs to face a credible risk of torture. We demand freedom for Al-Aali, and freedom for all migrants unjustly jailed in detention centres.

We condemn the rampant use of prisons to enforce immigration laws, the practices of which criminalize and illegalize migrants. Over the past decade, migrant detention in Britain has increased 12-fold – nearly 30,000 migrants were detained in 2012-2013. Likewise, in Canada, we have seen heightened immigration enforcement, and increases in raids and enforcement collusion. Detentions are getting longer and deportations becoming more frequent. Over 10,000 people are detained and even more deported annually in Canada. Everyday there are hundreds of women, men, and children detained indefinitely without charge or trial, and many in maximum security prisons for years on end.

We honour the resistance and we are in solidarity with the struggles of migrants in detention, from the 191 detainees who staged a hunger strike in Lindsay, Ontario last September to the hundreds of migrants currently striking in the UK. Until all are free! We demand the freedom to move, freedom to return, and freedom to stay for migrants here and everywhere!

By No One Is Illegal (Toronto), Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, Health Justice Collective (Montreal)