Hassan Almrei Back In Court Nov. 5, Day 38 Of Hunger Strike For Heat, Shoes, Jacket

Hassan Almrei, held over Two Years in Solitary Confinement, Demanding a Guarantee of Heat in His Cell, Shoes and a Jacket

Hassan Almrei, in day 38 of his hunger strike in his solitary confinement cell at Metro West Detention Centre, will be in court Wednesday, November 5, 10 am, 361 University Ave., still seeking U.N. Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners: a written guarantee of heat in his cell through the winter, shoes, a jacket.

Almrei, held in solitary over two years, weighed over 260 pounds when he was arrested in October, 2001; he is now down to 157 pounds. Support for Almrei has grown internationally, with some 22 people holding a Ramadan solidarity fast; dozens of letters and faxes sent to Ministry of Community Safety Minister Monte Kwinter; and demonstrations in Toronto and Ottawa.

Almrei began a hunger strike on September 29, 2003 partly because he feared the cold of a third winter in solitary, a cold which can prove lethal, as an internal document leaked to the campaign showed. Indeed, in 1996, one prisoner was rushed to hospital with hypothermia; another who died of a seizure had a body temperature of 28 degrees celsius at death and his cell was only 10 degrees.

Heat is only now being provided in his cell thanks to the publicity surrounding the hunger strike, but Almrei points out other prisoners across the hall in solitary remain freezing, and without a written guarantee of heat, jail officials might punish him by turning it off once the hunger strike ends. In his cell, Hassan is only allowed to wear a short-sleeved jump suit, T shirts, underwear and socks. He is not even given a jacket to wear when he goes to the outdoor exercise court.

Ministry officials continue to insist their denial of Almrei's demands are "security" related, yet the RCMP has classified Almrei as low-risk, jail officials have testified in court that Almrei is nonviolent, and he is allowed to wear shoes when he is outside of his cell (they sit right outside his door).

Campaign members point out that the security argument holds no weight whatsoever, as all prisoners in Canadian federal segregation units are allowed to wear shoes and jackets. Correctional Services of Canada Commissioner's Directives specify that "Inmates in disciplinary segregation shall be accorded the same rights, privileges and conditions of confinement as those inmates in the general population except for those that:

a. can only be enjoyed in association with other inmates; or
b. cannot reasonably be given owing to limitations specific to the disciplinary segregation area, or security requirements.

Under "Prevention of Security Incidents" Commissioner Directive #566, there is NO mention of restricting inmates' personal property or clothing.

For more information call (416) 651-5800

Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada
PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
(416) 651-5800, tasc@web.ca, http://www.homesnotbombs.ca