Today I would like to express my solidarity with the hunger strike of 2500 prisoners in the state of California. The prisoners are on hunger strike to challenge the treatment of voting booths, for adequate nutrition, and to end group punishment.

In the course of my political involvement I have had the chance to meet people who have already faced this type of isolation treatment in residential schools. Prolonged isolation treatment is nothing but torture. There is no reason for a civilised society to turn to this form of penance and we have a duty to fight against torture in all its forms.

I also stand in solidarity with the detainees in Guantanamo Bay who have already been on hunger strike for more than 160 days, and who are being force-fed by the US weapon. The prison at Guantánamo should never have existed, and the events that have taken place there are a disgrace to us all.
Many of the inmates on hunger strike in California are being locked up for minor crimes, such as drug possession. The U.S. prison at Guantanimo Bay holds several prisoners who are not charged with a crime, and who are incarcerated indefinitely in subhuman conditions. The Harper government has also refused to repatriate Private Omar Khader, who was a casualty of war when he was first placed on a battlefield in Afghanistan at the age of 15. He was subsequently tortured in Guantanamo Bay without the intervention of the Canadian government.

In Quebec, we have our own incarceration problems. In particular, the Conservative government has just cut off access to CEGEPs in several correctional institutions.
of Quebec. They also cut the prison agriculture program and centralized meal preparation in one institution, denying inmates the opportunity to take professional culinary training. These programs are in place to promote rehabilitation, and by taking the ideological position of closing them, Mr. Harper is undermining the reintegration of these people. At the same time as this government is passing bills that will put more people in prison, they have closed the prisons; a situation that will lead to a deterioration in the quality of life of inmates, and overcrowding that will cause violence and worsen existing social problems.

This is a matter of social justice and human rights. We need a science-based correctional system that focuses on rehabilitation and re-education to combat recidivism. I am resolutely against the treatment of solitary confinement and the death penalty.

In solidarity with hunger strikes,

Alex Tyrrell
Candidate for the leadership of the Green Party of Quebec


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