Over 150 Friends and Supporters Joined a Vigil to Honour Soleiman and Call for Justice
On December 15th 2017, friends and supporters held a vigil at Dundas Square to mark the one year anniversary of Soleiman Faqiri’s death. This vigil was organized to honour and commemorate Soleiman and call for justice, transparency, accountability and most of all reform in Ontario’s correctional services.
The vigil drew a large crowd, as 150 people gathered to commemorate Soleiman. Many prominent speakers attended the rally, extending their support for the campaign and demanding justice.
Yasin Dwyer, a former Prison Chaplain and the current Chaplain at Ryerson University, stated that “a good measure of a society is how that society treats its most vulnerable,” adding that “we have to stand up and we have to demand better of our society.”
Desmond Cole, an activist, stressed that “ we have been waiting on [the province] for a year now for answers. When provincial politicians come to ask us next year to support them we have to say are you going to make sure there are fewer prisons in the province in Ontario not more”, highlighting the Ontario Government’s responsibility to ensure that justice prevails.
Kelly Potvin, the Executive Director for Elizabeth Fry Toronto, could not make it for the vigil but has issued a statement of support. Potvin stated that they also “join the Ontario Human Rights Commission in demanding that the Ontario Government comply with the Code, and end the use of segregation or solitary confinement for people living with Mental Health disabilities”. She added that “the OHRC is [especially] concerned that segregation is disproportionately used on, and has particularly harmful effects for, Code-protected groups such as Black and Indigenous prisoners, prisoners with mental health disabilities, and women.”
Yusuf Faqiri, Soleiman’s brother and family spokesperson, expressed his gratitude to all those in attendance and for those calling for transparency, justice, accountability, and reform.
Soleiman Faqiri was killed under government care on December 15 2016. Soleiman’s stay at the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay, Ontario was meant to be a temporary measure, yet it ended up being fatal. In October 2017 the Kawartha Lakes Police Services’ (KLPS) announced that not charges would be filed against any Lindsay CECC officers. Several media reports have questioned about whether the police service was far enough removed from the case to conduct its probe impartially.
For Soleiman’s family, other families of victims killed in prisons, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the legal community, the mental health community, and all Ontarians, the inquest into his death is a litmus test as to whether the Province is seriously committed to transparency and reform.
The Justice for Soli Campaign aims to find transparency and accountability, but equally important it seeks to be an agent for true reform.