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The story of Soleiman Faqiri: A horrific death revealing gross mistreatment of the mentally ill

AmericasCommunityFeatured

The story of Soleiman Faqiri: A horrific death revealing gross mistreatment of the mentally ill

An investigation conducted months after the incident by the local police couldn’t determine a cause of death and Soleiman’s family was left with his body in a bag and no explanation.

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An investigation conducted months after the incident by the local police couldn’t determine a cause of death and Soleiman’s family was left with his body in a bag and no explanation.

The death of 30-year-old Soleiman Faqiri in a dark, dank prison cell in Lindsay, Ontario (about 130km Northeast of Toronto) has helped spark a new debate in Canada around how correctional facilities treat the mentally ill.

The suspicion around Soleiman’s death has led to several investigations by the authorities along with broad-based concern and outrage throughout Canadian civil society. Investigations are still ongoing but it’s clear by now that Soleiman was brutalized for several minutes by six guards, the results which at least partly contributed to his death.

We here at the #JusticeforSoli campaign are dedicated to uncovering the truth of what happened to Soleiman at the Lindsay jail. We want to hold authorities accountable and shed light on what has become a systemic problem in Ontario’s prisons: brutality and neglect of the mentally ill.

Tall, big, and gregarious, Soleiman was a well-liked straight-A student before he was diagnosed with clinical schizophrenia while studying at the University of Waterloo, which has one of Canada’s most well-regarded engineering programs. Second-eldest of five, Soleiman moved to Canada with his family from Afghanistan as a child, where he picked up English quickly, excelled in his studies, and eventually became captain of his school rugby team.

He was smart and responsible, destined for a bright future in a country that often represents multiculturalism and opportunity.

Facebook/Justice for Soli

That perception largely held even as Soleiman’s world began to unravel in front of his loved ones as his mental illness often robbed him of his faculties. Due to an accident during the second semester of his first year, Soleiman was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at the young age of 19. His family was devastated, but did all that they could to support him. As a result of his diagnosis, he was unable to complete his studies. Regular pills often messed with his mood, exaggerated his hunger, and made him incredibly restless. He often went days without sleep. A handful of times, the police had to get involved, but they always sent him to a hospital where he was examined, treated, and released.

Life was tough for Soleiman but his family was always there for him. Canada was still home and seemed to offer a relatively liveable space for someone who struggled with mental illness but had loved ones who care.

That perception was to change for the Faqiri family in December 2016.

On December 4th, Soleiman got into a confrontation with one of his neighbours. The police were called and officers arrived on scene to apprehend him. But this time, instead of taking him to the hospital as they usually do, Soleiman was taken to a jail cell at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario.

What ensued was a nightmare.

After a series of incidents and delays, Soleiman was ordered to appear back in court via video-link on December 19th. Tragically, his life would end just days before.

For over a week, Soleiman’s mental state deteriorated. He wasn’t eating or sleeping. He banged against the cell walls and kept the other inmates up all night with chants of, “Oh Canada.”

Inmates more or less weren’t listened to when they alerted doctors and guards to Soleiman’s deterioration. They said that he badly needed help, that he wasn’t getting it in prison, and that he needed to be transferred to a hospital. That never happened. This whole time prison authorities prevented his family from visiting him.

On December 15th, Soleiman was taken back into his cell by six officers in the afternoon. According to the inmate across the hall–later identified as John Thibeault–one of the officers whispered something in Soleiman’s ear. Soleiman then almost immediately refused to go into his cell. It’s unclear what the officer said. Did he make fun of him, did he threaten him? What could he have said to trigger fear in Soleiman?

Then Thibeault says he witnessed guards restrain and repeatedly beat Soleiman for several  minutes while yelling, “Stop resisting!” Except Soleiman was hardly moving at all. This was after the guards forced him into the cell where there were no cameras. What happened next isn’t exactly known, and investigators have to rely on the testimony of the guards. Thibeault also saw what happened but never spoke to the cops about it out of fear that he would have a similar fate.

The guards say that after a struggle where Soleiman resisted and assaulted them, dozens of other reinforcement arrived at the scene as the initial six exhausted themselves. Then they say that Soleiman apparently became more compliant and was ultimately left alone. Someone then noticed that he wasn’t moving or breathing. At 3:47pm, Soleiman was pronounced dead.

His body was covered in ligature marks and dozens upon dozens of bruises. The lead paramedic who arrived on scene repeatedly asked those present to take him through what happened. Tellingly, he says that their story kept changing and that he couldn’t really get a straight answer.

In an interview with CBC, Thibeault tells a much more graphic and violent story–one in which an overwhelmed Soleiman endured a savage beating from the six guards, each one probably weighing in excess of 250 pounds or so.

He says that Soleiman had nowhere to run except for the back of his cell, the wall against which he crashed into several times during the beating. Thibeault says all this happened before the other reinforcements came.

An investigation conducted months after the incident by the local police couldn’t determine a cause of death and Soleiman’s family was left with his body in a bag and no explanation.

The criminal investigation has now been reopened thanks in part to public outcry. Now the Ontario Provincial Police are in charge.

Facebook/JusticeforSoli

Thibeault’s testimony adds a vital new dimension to the case and the #JusticeforSoli movement will not stop until the truth is fully documented. We will not stop until those responsible for Soleiman’s death are held accountable to the full extent of the law. We will not stop until the wider challenges faced by mentally ill inmates are addressed within Ontario’s prisons.

We ask that you help us achieve our goals. We are raising funds through Launchgood to help cover the family’s legal expenses during this case. Over 16,000 Canadians have signed our online petition to call for justice and accountability from the Ontario government. We would greatly appreciate your generosity and support.

Whilst you’re here…

The Muslim Vibe is a non-profit media platform aiming to inspire, inform and empower Muslims like you. Our goal is to provide a space for young Muslims to learn about their faith as well as news stories affecting them, so we can reclaim the Muslim narrative from the mainstream.

Your support will help us achieve this goal, and enable us to produce more original content. Your support can help us in the fight against Islamophobia, by building a powerful platform for young Muslims who can share their ideas, experiences and opinions for a better future.

Please consider supporting The Muslim Vibe, from as little as £1 – it will only take a minute. Thank you and Jazakallah.

Keep Reading

An investigation conducted months after the incident by the local police couldn’t determine a cause of death and Soleiman’s family was left with his body in a bag and no explanation.

An investigation conducted months after the incident by the local police couldn’t determine a cause of death and Soleiman’s family was left with his body in a bag and no explanation.

The death of 30-year-old Soleiman Faqiri in a dark, dank prison cell in Lindsay, Ontario (about 130km Northeast of Toronto) has helped spark a new debate in Canada around how correctional facilities treat the mentally ill.

The suspicion around Soleiman’s death has led to several investigations by the authorities along with broad-based concern and outrage throughout Canadian civil society. Investigations are still ongoing but it’s clear by now that Soleiman was brutalized for several minutes by six guards, the results which at least partly contributed to his death.

We here at the #JusticeforSoli campaign are dedicated to uncovering the truth of what happened to Soleiman at the Lindsay jail. We want to hold authorities accountable and shed light on what has become a systemic problem in Ontario’s prisons: brutality and neglect of the mentally ill.

Tall, big, and gregarious, Soleiman was a well-liked straight-A student before he was diagnosed with clinical schizophrenia while studying at the University of Waterloo, which has one of Canada’s most well-regarded engineering programs. Second-eldest of five, Soleiman moved to Canada with his family from Afghanistan as a child, where he picked up English quickly, excelled in his studies, and eventually became captain of his school rugby team.

He was smart and responsible, destined for a bright future in a country that often represents multiculturalism and opportunity.

Facebook/Justice for Soli

That perception largely held even as Soleiman’s world began to unravel in front of his loved ones as his mental illness often robbed him of his faculties. Due to an accident during the second semester of his first year, Soleiman was diagnosed with Schizophrenia at the young age of 19. His family was devastated, but did all that they could to support him. As a result of his diagnosis, he was unable to complete his studies. Regular pills often messed with his mood, exaggerated his hunger, and made him incredibly restless. He often went days without sleep. A handful of times, the police had to get involved, but they always sent him to a hospital where he was examined, treated, and released.

Life was tough for Soleiman but his family was always there for him. Canada was still home and seemed to offer a relatively liveable space for someone who struggled with mental illness but had loved ones who care.

That perception was to change for the Faqiri family in December 2016.

On December 4th, Soleiman got into a confrontation with one of his neighbours. The police were called and officers arrived on scene to apprehend him. But this time, instead of taking him to the hospital as they usually do, Soleiman was taken to a jail cell at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario.

What ensued was a nightmare.

After a series of incidents and delays, Soleiman was ordered to appear back in court via video-link on December 19th. Tragically, his life would end just days before.

For over a week, Soleiman’s mental state deteriorated. He wasn’t eating or sleeping. He banged against the cell walls and kept the other inmates up all night with chants of, “Oh Canada.”

Inmates more or less weren’t listened to when they alerted doctors and guards to Soleiman’s deterioration. They said that he badly needed help, that he wasn’t getting it in prison, and that he needed to be transferred to a hospital. That never happened. This whole time prison authorities prevented his family from visiting him.

On December 15th, Soleiman was taken back into his cell by six officers in the afternoon. According to the inmate across the hall–later identified as John Thibeault–one of the officers whispered something in Soleiman’s ear. Soleiman then almost immediately refused to go into his cell. It’s unclear what the officer said. Did he make fun of him, did he threaten him? What could he have said to trigger fear in Soleiman?

Then Thibeault says he witnessed guards restrain and repeatedly beat Soleiman for several  minutes while yelling, “Stop resisting!” Except Soleiman was hardly moving at all. This was after the guards forced him into the cell where there were no cameras. What happened next isn’t exactly known, and investigators have to rely on the testimony of the guards. Thibeault also saw what happened but never spoke to the cops about it out of fear that he would have a similar fate.

The guards say that after a struggle where Soleiman resisted and assaulted them, dozens of other reinforcement arrived at the scene as the initial six exhausted themselves. Then they say that Soleiman apparently became more compliant and was ultimately left alone. Someone then noticed that he wasn’t moving or breathing. At 3:47pm, Soleiman was pronounced dead.

His body was covered in ligature marks and dozens upon dozens of bruises. The lead paramedic who arrived on scene repeatedly asked those present to take him through what happened. Tellingly, he says that their story kept changing and that he couldn’t really get a straight answer.

In an interview with CBC, Thibeault tells a much more graphic and violent story–one in which an overwhelmed Soleiman endured a savage beating from the six guards, each one probably weighing in excess of 250 pounds or so.

He says that Soleiman had nowhere to run except for the back of his cell, the wall against which he crashed into several times during the beating. Thibeault says all this happened before the other reinforcements came.

An investigation conducted months after the incident by the local police couldn’t determine a cause of death and Soleiman’s family was left with his body in a bag and no explanation.

The criminal investigation has now been reopened thanks in part to public outcry. Now the Ontario Provincial Police are in charge.

Facebook/JusticeforSoli

Thibeault’s testimony adds a vital new dimension to the case and the #JusticeforSoli movement will not stop until the truth is fully documented. We will not stop until those responsible for Soleiman’s death are held accountable to the full extent of the law. We will not stop until the wider challenges faced by mentally ill inmates are addressed within Ontario’s prisons.

We ask that you help us achieve our goals. We are raising funds through Launchgood to help cover the family’s legal expenses during this case. Over 16,000 Canadians have signed our online petition to call for justice and accountability from the Ontario government. We would greatly appreciate your generosity and support.

Whilst you’re here…

The Muslim Vibe is a non-profit media platform aiming to inspire, inform and empower Muslims like you. Our goal is to provide a space for young Muslims to learn about their faith as well as news stories affecting them, so we can reclaim the Muslim narrative from the mainstream.

Your support will help us achieve this goal, and enable us to produce more original content. Your support can help us in the fight against Islamophobia, by building a powerful platform for young Muslims who can share their ideas, experiences and opinions for a better future.

Please consider supporting The Muslim Vibe, from as little as £1 – it will only take a minute. Thank you and Jazakallah.

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