Two Mississauga brothers sentenced for gang-rape in Africa stop eating.
By: Gemma Karstens-Smith
Two Canadian teenagers detained in a Somaliland jail have started a hunger strike, their father says.
Liiban and Jamal Noor were sentenced in August to 10 years in jail for the gang-rape of two young women. The brothers, both born and raised in Mississauga, maintain they are innocent.
Family members have been dropping off food and clean water for the boys every day since their arrest in late July. But starting Saturday, Jamal, 15, and Liiban, 19, refused to eat.
The pair are protesting what they see as a lack of help from the Canadian government, said their father, Mohamed Noor: “They said ‘We feel like we’ve been forgotten here.’ ”
The brothers were in Somaliland, a small territory in the Horn of Africa, visiting their grandmother when they were arrested with 19 others for the gang-rape. Seven days later, all 21 young men were sentenced.
The Noor brothers were never given access to a lawyer and don’t speak the country’s native language, said their father.
Conditions in the jail have been awful, Jamal told the Star last month in a jailhouse interview. He spoke over a contraband cellphone smuggled into the prison by his father. The brothers are crammed into a cell with eight other people, where they sleep on the floor and have limited access to showers, Jamal said.
Jamal also alleged he and his brother have been beaten and tortured while in custody. Noor said he told his sons not to go ahead with the strike, but understands their frustration.
Noor said he has called and emailed the Canadian officials in Ottawa and Kenya almost daily since his sons were arrested. Officials have yet to visit the boys in jail, he said.
Canada’s foreign affairs department is “aware of the arrest and detention of two Canadian citizens in the territory of Somaliland,” a spokesperson said in emails to the Star last month. The Canadian Embassy in Nairobi is providing consular services to the family.
The department declined to release any further details of the case, citing privacy concerns.
Requests for comment to foreign affairs were not returned Monday.
While the brothers’ hunger strike continued Sunday, friends took to Twitter to wish Liiban a happy 19th birthday, using the hashtag #JusticeForTheNoorBrothers.
“Happy birthday Liiban . . . being alive is a blessing though justice isn’t present #JusticeForTheNoorBrothers,”wrote @Kwala19.
Source: The Star