Dr. Al-Arian Suspends Hunger Strike After 8 Weeks
April 29, 2008
VIRGINIA- April 29, 2008-- Yesterday, on the 57th day of his hunger strike, Dr. Sami Al-Arian suspended his fast, at the urging of his family, friends and supporters. Dr. Al-Arian, who has lost more than 40 pounds, began the hunger strike on March 3 to protest continued harassment and abuse of power by the Justice Department. Early last week, as his blood pressure and blood sugar reached dangerously low levels, Dr. Al-Arian collapsed and lost consciousness at his cell in Hampton Roads Regional Jail and was then examined by a doctor. Dr. Al-Arian drank no water for the first 18 days of his fast. During his hunger strike, he was moved to five different facilities a half dozen times.
Dr. Al-Arian was supposed to have been released on April 7. Since April 14, he has been in total segregation, and living under harsh conditions. He is not allowed any visitors and is given only two phone calls a month. Though officials at Hampton Roads Regional Jail told Dr. Al-Arian his conditions would improve and he would be moved into the general population as soon as he began eating again, this has proven to be a lie. Dr. Al-Arian remains in segregation although he has been cleared medically. Please see the Action Alert below to demand that he be treated humanely.
“Today Dr. Sami Al-Arian is an internationally recognized political prisoner in America . Over the last two decades, his legendry struggle for the independence of Palestine has included five years of incarceration, which continues, and two extended hunger strikes for sixty days and fifty-seven days, respectively,” said Dr. Agha Saeed, chair of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections. “Just as Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X symbolized the struggle for human rights in the fifties and sixties, Dr. Sami Al-Arian has come to symbolize the current struggle for human rights. I am one of those who had beseeched him to end his hunger strike and I am personally indebted to him for accepting our request.”
“Sami Al-Arian has put his own life on the line for human dignity, freedom, justice and peace,” said Muhammad Salim Akhtar, chairman of American Muslim Alliance Midwest Region. “His resilience at the cost of his own physical and mental suffering has become a source of strength for people of conscience and high morals to unite across borders.”
For the past three weeks, ICE has been claiming that the deportation process has been slowed down because of Dr. Al-Arian’s hunger strike. Following passionate appeal from his family, friends, and supporters, and on strong advice of his counsel, Dr. Al-Arian has also suspended his hunger strike so as not to allow any further delays or excuses in his deportation.
“The political persecution of Dr. Al Arian will forever be a dark stain on our nation’s history; a stain reminiscent of the Palmer Raids, the McCarthy era and COINTELPRO,” said Mahdi Bray, executive director of MAS Freedom. “Never convicted of a crime by a jury of his peers and after an agreement with the US government for deportation, Dr. Al Arian still remains inhumanely incarcerated. Who within our government has the courage to right this cold and calculated injustice?”
“Anybody can understand that this about basic fairness. You don’t just keep adding jail time arbitrarily,” said Warren Clark, pastor of First United Church (UCC) of Tampa. Referring to the prison’s ban of letters to Dr. Al-Arian, Clark said, “They are disallowing people of faith that want to accompany him. That is disrespectful of humanity. We call upon our government to be respectful of these basic core values of humanity.”
Peter Erlinder, former president of the National Lawyers Guild said: “ On May 1, 2006, the Bush Justice Department publicly recommended that Dr. Al Arian be released and deported without delay, in order to claim a legal victory. The continued detention of Dr. Al Arian under inhumane conditions is psychological and physical torture, intended to break the spirit of an American civil-liberties and human rights hero. Free Sami Al Arian, NOW!"
TAKE URGENT ACTION
Just 3 Phone Calls & 1 Email to Make a Difference
Dr. Sami Al-Arian is at an extremely critical juncture. Any day now he may indicted on criminal contempt, a charge that carries a minimum sentence of five years. Another Palestinian-American professor in a similar case was sentenced to eleven years for criminal contempt last fall.
On March 20th, in a blatant violation of the plea agreement signed between Dr. Al-Arian and the U.S. government, a Virginia federal judge forced Dr. Al-Arian to appear in court to testify before a third grand jury. Given that the government had in the past cynically twisted his words to try to convict him of perjury, Dr. Al-Arian recognized the perjury trap laid for him, and refused to testify as his attorneys advised.
For more details of this case, check out our NEW PAMPHLETS at pamphlets.freesaminow.com
3 PHONE CALLS + 1 EMAIL = HUGE DIFFERENCE
1. Hampton Roads Regional Jail: (757) 488-7500 (ext. 8)
Ask them why:
- Dr. Al-Arian is not allowed to regularly call
- Bright lights are glared into his cell 24/7;
- He is only allowed to shower twice a week;
- He is handcuffed every time he leaves his
- He is not allowed to know the time of day to
- He is in a segregated unit.
Be prepared to be told that you have the wrong section. THAT IS NOT
TRUE. Extension 8 for the Warden's Office is the correct office to
bring up this issue.
Also be prepared for the prison staff to lie to you, or to tell you
that what they are doing is in conformity with prison regulations. IT IS NOT. Insist that the information you have is accurate. Be polite but unwaveringly firm. Make your point, don't back down from it, and leave your message for the warden.
2. Vincent Archibeque, Assistant Field Office Director of the
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): (703) 285-6221.
Ask Mr. Archibeque to ensure that Dr. Al-Arian is transferred to a
facility where he will be treated with dignity and that he be deported
as soon as possible in accordance with the plea agreement.
3. Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (Department of Homeland
(866)-644-8360 (press 1 for English and then press 5 to leave a
Bring up all the complaints regarding Dr. Al-Arian's jail conditions
mentioned in item (1), ask that he be transferred to a prison where he
will be treated with dignity, and ask that he be deported as soon as
possible in accordance with the terms of his plea bargain.
Again, always be polite but firm.
If you don't speak to a live person:
- simply leave a message on the answering machine; and
- call back later that day or the next day to try to get
Ask Mr. Mukasey to ensure that Dr. Al-Arian is deported as soon as
possible in accordance with the plea agreement. (For a letter template,
please go to http://www.freesamialarian.com/letters/sample1.doc)
- Before sending the email, make sure to BCC
- If you have time, fax your letter in addition to
sending it by
email: (202) 307-6777
To learn how you can help EVEN MORE, please visit:
Lastly, don't forget to PRAY for Dr. Al-Arian and his family.
PLEASE FORWARD TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!