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An ACLU Report
was kept there for two months. He was never told why. For 24 hours after he was taken from his house, his wife frantically tried to learn of his whereabouts.
For many of the immigrants represented, the complaint to the United Nations also represents their first opportunity to tell their stories to the public. They were uprooted from their homes, taken from their families and deprived of their livelihoods. Their lives were irrevocably disrupted by the government's policies.
Mr. Altaf was deported to Pakistan in the summer of 2002, without appearing before a judge. For a year, he did not sce his family, who had remained behind to ensure that his daughter would get the treatment she needed. "They cry all the time whenever I talk to them and say, *Papa Daddy when you coming back home? I miss you. I love you,'" he told The New York Times in 2002. "And I do the same thing. Without family, life is nothing. I'm like a dead person."
Many still live under a cloud of suspicion in their home countries. A United Nations ruling will help clear their names of any involvement with terrorism or crime. It will provide some closure to the prolonged nightmare of their arbitrary detention and its aftermath. Noor Hussain Raza, 61, says that since returning 10 Pakistan he has been unable to work because of his age and heart condition. He is reduced to living in the streets, unwanted by his family and society.
Aller a year, his wife and two of his children joined him in Rawalpindi, where he has opened a small grocery store with his in-laws. His daughter Anza lives in New Jersey with his brother and mother. "I talked to a lot of doctors, a lot of surgeons, a lot of specialists, a lot of psychologists and audiologists," he said. "They said they don't have services right now in Pakistan for cochlear implant and special education."
Advocacy before the U.N. also sends a strong message of solidarity to human rights advocates in other countries who have decried the impact of United States policies on the human rights of their citizens. Americans concerned about constitutional rights at home will continuc to engage with groups and institutions around the globe to ensure that the United States respects the human rights of all persons, regardless of their nationality, race or religion.
He hopes to bring his daughter to Pakistan "once a year to visit," he said. "Right now this is my plan." His family misses her terribly, he says. "Anytime, we talk to her - with the implant, she hears and speaks they cry. And she does, too."
The complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has its roots in carlier advocacy we did at home and abroad on behalf of these immigrants. It draws on interviews conducted in 2001 and 2002 by ACLU lawyers at New York and New Jersey detention centers where the majority of immigrants were held after September 11.
Mr. Altaf sorely misses the job he had in the United States. "Sometimes I call, and they say they miss working with me. Especially they miss the food. I would cook at home and take it to work - for Christmas or Thanksgiving."
The complaint is also grounded in interviews the ACLU conducted when it traveled to Pakistan in 2002 to meet with detainees who had been deported.
Khaled K. Abu-Shabayek
and New Jersey. He was often transported
lacked climate control.
Throughout Mr. Abu-Shabayek's five and his wife last resided in Cary, North
months in detention, he was never brought Carolina with their seven children, five of before a judge. At his initial arrest, he was whom were born in the United States and shown a piece of paper notifying him that he are United States citizens. While living in had a right to a hearing. He requested a North Carolina, Mr. Abu-Shabayek owned hearing numerous times but was repeatedly a car, had a driver's license, paid taxes and denied by the officers guarding him. He rented a home for his family. Mr. Abu
was also aware of his right to post bond, and Shabayek supported his family by working requested a bond hearing. This request was in construction and running a side busi- also denied without explanation. Finally, he ness selling grocery items.
was denied access to speak with a represen
tative of his consulate. Sometime in 1994, Mr. Abu-Shabayek applied for political asylum in the United No criminal charges were ever brought States, based on his status as a Palestinian against Mr. Abu-Shabayek, but the FBI living in Jordan. His asylum request was
told him that he was considered a "terrorultimately denied, but he decided to
ist" and interrogated him on six or seven remain in the United States with his fami- separate occasions. At one point during ly. He subsequently applied for permanent
these interrogations, Mr. Abu-Shabayek resident status but no final decision had requested permission to use a bathroom. been made on his application by April The FBI refused, telling him "to piss on 2002.
himself." He says that "Arabs and
Muslims were treated more harshly than The police stopped Mr. Abu-Shabayek other prisoners," and that FBI agents frewhile he was traveling in the state of quently "tried to provoke Arab and Tennessee on business on April 18, 2002. Muslim detainees." The officer asked for his name and other information, then placed him in hand- Mr. Abu-Shabayek was finally deported to cuffs and took him to the local police sta- Jordan on September 12, 2002. He and his tion. Upon his arrest, the officer told him family are now living in Amman. Mr. that he was "illegally present in the Abu-Shabayek was unable to find work United States."
for fifteen months after arriving in Jordan,
and supported his family on savings he From the time he was first arrested until he had earned in the United States. His chilwas finally deported to Jordan five months dren, most of whom were raised exclulater, he was moved frequently, spending sively in the United States, have had a time in facilities located in Tennessee, very difficult time fitting into their new Louisiana, Oklahonia, Georgia, New York lives in Jordan.
An ACLU Report
Noor Husain Raza
talk. Silence. You have no right to talk. ***
Noor Ilusain Raza, a 63-year-old engineer, first floor with other new inmates and was pres
Ile was placed in a dormitory-style room on the left Pakistan in 1979. He first emigrated to the ent, he said, when guards brought dogs into the United Arab Emirates, where he worked as an dorinitory cach morning as the detainees were engineer in the Dubai police department for more than a decade. In 1992, he came to the waking up. After a few days of this, Mr. Raza United States on a visitor's visa.
was moved upstairs with the general population
of inmates. The jailhouse doctor would not let When he arrived, Mr. Raza applied for political
him see a specialist so he could discuss the medasylum based on his trade union activisin in
ication he needed for his heart condition. The Pakistan. I lis asylum request was denied, and he
guards refused his repeated requests for halal filed a motion to reopen his asylum case. He
mcals. (Ile was given a Koran.) worked at many jobs, sending money home to a large number of relatives in Pakistan. "Three
"I'm a 61-years-old guy - they throw me in the families, I support," he said. In 1993, he got a job
bag of steel," Mr. Raza said. "This is not human as a baggage handler for Continental Airlines at
rights. This is not justice." Newark international Airport in New Jersey. Ile worked with customers, tvo, from time to time.
After one month in jail, Mr. Raza was handed "I used to translate for people who don't know
over to immigration agents who handcuffed him, the English, especially the Arab people," he said.
scarched him and brought him a paper to sign. "I
said, 'Let me read it.' She said no. She said, 'Sir His motion to reopen his asylum case was pend- you have to sign. You have to. Then I signed." ing when he was arrested at work on Dec. 19, 2001. Ile showed the agents his airport (D), his He was put on a plane that landed in Karachi, company ID and his driver's license. "They said, where, penniless, he made his way to Lahore, *No, we need immigration ID,'" he said. "They many miles away. just put me in handcuffs."
Mr. Raza remains in Lahore. Ilis arrest and Mr. Raza was taken to the INS center in Newark, deportation have been a "tragedy" for bin, he where agents questioned him. "They said, 'Do said. "I'm not a terrorist. My record is neat and you know something for this 11th September?"" clean. I protect their security and integrity of the I said, “Man, I am a normal guy. Just a worker."" United States for 10 years in the Newark airport." He was allowed to make collect calls and tried to get legal help. But his lawyer was not available, Asked if he would return to the United and a second lawyer (recommended by the sec
States if he could, he says yes. "The guy retary of a public official he managed to reach) who doesn't like dictatorship," he said, "he was on vacation.
will always ask for freedom."
Mr. Raza was then taken to Passaic County Still, he asks how this could have happened to Jail, in Paterson, New Jersey. When he arrived, him "when the United States - President Bush his clothes were forcibly removed and a guard says there is justice, peace and human rights properformed a body-cavity search. "I said, “This tection, and we are just fighting against the terror is against the humanity.' He said, 'Sir, don't not against the religion of Islam."
Summarizing the case, the complaint argues interrogated about their religious and politi-
Middle Eastern. When he replied that he was,
the officer responded in a hostile fashion Sadek Awaed, a 31-year-old Egyptian nation- ("Got you, motherfucker!"), after the Jersey al held on an immigration violation, is still City Police contacted the INS. detained after more than 20 months in jail. He has been detained ever since, primarily in Mr. Awaed arrived in New York in 1991 on a tourist visa and applied for political asylum the Hudson County Correctional Facility in in 1993.
Kcarny, New Jersey. For most of his first 15
months there, he was housed with the criminal His asylum petition was based on his belief population. For a full year, he was not aware that in Egypt he faced danger because of his of the grounds for his detention. He had former affiliation, as an 18-year-old, with the received a legal document but did not underMuslim Brotherhood. a large opposition stand that it described an immigration violagroup whose stated aim is the peaceful cre
tion - a failure to lcave the United States after ation of an Islamic state. Mr. Awaed says he being ordered deported in absentia in 1998. was recruited to attend Brotherhood meetings but found the group's extremism disturbing. Only after attorneys from the Asian When he left the organization, which has a
American Legal Defense and Education history of violence and is banned in Egypt, he Fund (AALDEF) began to represent him in was tortured. He fears persecution from two the spring of 2003 did he learn that five years
the Egyptian government and the earlier, he had been charged with overstaying Brotherhood.
his visa. The notice of that charge had been
sent to the wrong address. In the United States, he has worked as a doughnut maker, a used-car salesman and a At no time during his long detention has Mr. taxi driver - the job he had at the time of his Awaed been brought before a judge. The arrest, in May 2002.
judge who ordered the deportation has denied
a motion to reopen his case. An appeal of On May 2, 2002, shortly after his last FBI that decision was also denied. interview, Mr. Awaed was arrested for a traffic violation in Jersey City, New Jersey, If he is deported to Egypt, Mr. Awaed told the where he was living. While at the police sta- Associated Press in a telephone interview tion, he was asked by an officer if he was from jail "I may not sce the sun again."
AD ACLU Report
• The government arrested many immigrants policies violate international human rights hy virtue of chance encounters rather than any principles. indication of a possible connection to terrorism or crime.
Responding to the Roundup • The government refused to release many immigrants even after it knew that they had no
The ACLU's early efforts to respond to the connection to terrorism.
swill and secretive roundup and arrests of • The government's arbitrary detention policies immigrants after September 11 involved a frusdisproportionately impacted Muslim men from
trating pursuit of basic information. Middle Eastern and South Asian countries. • Government officials intentionally discrimi
Like other advocacy organizations, journalists nated against some immigrants based on race
and of course, the frantic families of the men and religion through physical and verbal abuse.
who seemed to vanish into nowhere, we first • The government routinely failed to provide tried to learn the identities and whereabouts of inmigrants with notice of the charges against
those detained. them • The government denied many immigrants a
On September 25, 2001. we met with FBI prompt hearing; many were not brought before
Director Robert Mueller and asked, in vain, for a judge for weeks or even months after their
insormation about the detainees. (Another
meeting on October 25 produced the same • The government categorically denied many
result.) In October 2001, we wrote a letter to immigrants release on bond, with no showing Attorney General Ashcroft asking for informaof an individual need for prolonged detention.
tion about the identities of those being arrested. • The government denied many immigrants He did not respond. access to counsel for extended periods. • The government held many immigrants in
We also joined several other organizations in degrading and inhumane conditions; though filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) delained on immigration rather than criminal
request to learn the names and whereabouts of charges, many were held in cells for 23 hours a
delainees. Again, we learned nothing. The day and required to wcar hand and leg shackles attorney general, meanwhile, issued a directive when leaving their cells; others were denied
to federal agencies, encouraging them to withvisits or even calls with family members.
hold requested information wherever legally
possible. The complaint asks the Working Group to declare that the detention by the United
As news accounts and reports from ACI U States of each of the named individuals was
affiliates and other advocates started to yield a arbitrary and thus a violation of the Universal
clearer picture of what was happening, we Declaration of Human Rights and the began to address the other civil liberties issues. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Because the United States has still On December 4, 2001, Nadine Strossen, presirelused to disclose a complete list of immi- dent of the ACLU, submitted testimony to the grants detained after September 11, ihe com- Senate Judiciary Committee aboui the "masplaint also asks the Working Group 10 declare sive, secretive detention and dragnet question- on behalf of all those wrongly detained ing ol people based on national origin in the that the United States' arbitrary detention wake of September 11.".