It's March 24th and so much has happened. We need you take two more actions. Right now, we need you to call Minister Ralph Goodale.
Let us explain. First, 64 year old Burundian refugee Melkioro Gahungu committed suicide in immigration detention where he had been jailed without charges or trial for at least a year, possibly more.
Then four days later, on March 13th, we heard of the death of Francisco Javier Romero Astorga. All we knew at that time was his name.
Immediately after, we arranged a vigil where 70 of us gathered Together, we shared our collective grief at the 14th death in immigration detention since 2000, the 7th death in just three years. The news and outrage has spread across the country.
Days later, Francisco's family contacted us, and yesterday afternoon they issued a public call for support with an open letter and a press conference. They are calling on all of us to help them find answers - they want to know how Francisco died, and they want financial assistance to transport Francisco's body home.
Please call Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety at 613-991-2924 and ask him to release information to Francisco's family, pay for transportation costs, and commit to ending detentions. It's a long weekend so we really need you make calls today - Thursday! Read this open letter to get the info you need. Be warned, the open letter is heart breaking. Click here for a phone script.
It is clear to us that Melkioro needed medical help and support that he never got. This is what an interpreter said for him in an April 2015 hearing: “All he wants is just somebody to just kill him. He is just mentioning something like that, something of this sort, that instead of being wherever he is, he is just — or the situation he is in, he could just be killed or somebody like order — somebody to kill him or kill himself, something of the sort”. This is not a man who should have been imprisoned.
It is clear to us that Francisco's death should not have happened. This is what his family said "Francisco left Chile in perfect health, he spent much of his recent time in Canada in immigration detention and now he is dead. All we know is that the cause of death is ‘undetermined’, it makes no sense. He was a dreamer who was always looking to make the future brighter. He went to Canada for a ‘new beginning’ and we can’t rest till we at least know how he died, and that other families will not suffer like us."
Check out these pictures, videos, media stories and statements.
- Pictures and media coverage from March 15th vigil at CBSA Toronto offices
- RealNews (Video): Two More Deaths in Canadian Immigration Custody
- Video - CBC News: Vigil to mark two immigration detention deaths in Canada
- Video - Ricochet: "No migrants in detention!" rally in Toronto
- Toronto Star: Family ‘utterly in the dark’ about Chilean man's death in detention
- Toronto Sun (with Video): Family seeks answers in immigration detainee's death
- CBC The Current: Deaths in CBSA custody renew calls for immigration detention reform
- Toronto Star: Incarcerating migrants is inhumane: Goar
- Toronto Star: Stop the indefinite detention of migrants in Canada: Cole
- Joint statement from Human Rights groups: Human rights groups react to news of another death in immigration detention
- GlobalTV: Immigration detainee’s mysterious death is the second in seven days
- Vice Canada: Activists Demand Reform After Another Immigrant Dies in a Canadian Jail
No One Is Illegal - Toronto