Sunday, April 10, 2005

Two 16-year-old Girls Alone In Prison (part 3)

(Please scroll down and read the previous two posts if you missed it yesterday (Part 1 and Part 2). It's about two 16-year-old girls from New York City - one Guinean, the other Bangladeshi whose parents entered this country illegally - who have been detained as possible "suicide bombers" based on what looks like no evidence whatsoever. They need our help and support; they need e-mails and letters written to whomever can help them; they need phone calls and marches and rallies and whatever it takes.)

I know that there have been some people who have been hesitant to get behind this case because both of the girls are illegal immigrants and so are their parents. But maybe the fact that both girls have brothers and sisters who were born in America and are American citizens will help change their minds. These girls need our help.

Adem Carroll, a friend of the Bangladeshi girl, is a "a tireless fighter for Muslim civil liberties" who is allied with the Islamic Circle of North America. Adem is also 16 years old.

At a Yahoo newsgroup called "Shobak::CNN FOR THE LEFT" there is a page that contains a heartfelt letter Adem wrote the morning after the arrest and more details that he gathered in an interview with the parents of the Bangladeshi girl; her name is included there, too, but since she's only 16 I don't feel comfortable including that information at this time. If you follow the link please respect whatever privacy the 16-year-old girl still retains, but feel free to contact the lawyer who didn't show up for her hearing; his name I did include.

This is Adem's letter in full, just the way he wrote it:

"Am up now at 5 am-- the time of immigrant round ups and disappearances."

"Had a bad dream. Of riding in a city bus and looking up to see hooded, faceless riders."

"Today's case disturbs me. The 16 old girl has been here since she was 4; her family is originally from Bangladesh, living in Queens."

"Anyway, now they came and took the daughter and confiscated her computer, cell phone, diary and some books. She is not being held where they say she is."

"I called the chaplain there and he tells me she is not there. He also tells me he cannot tell me anything but he hints. My sense is that she may be held with adults or quite possibly in administration segregation. This 16 year old girl is allowed to call her family only once a week. That is unusual."

"The authorities had recently asked the family about "suicide" --I think about support of suicide bombing--and the father had told them of course it is against the religion. But for some reason there are these questions."

"The facility where she is being held (Berks in Pennsylvania) lost their license to hold youth detainees. And she is apprently not in the family facility, where whole families are being detained."

"The father, when I told him [the girl] may be held for at least a couple of months he started to twitch uncontrollably. It was really quite alarming."

"We did call some lawyers and we did call the Bangladeshi Consulate which seemed reluctant to do anything on a friday afternoon, if ever. The Deportation Officer I spoke with was unwilling to talk. We will look into other possibilities."

"The Chaplain took the opportunity to ask us for an Albanian Quran for an Albanian family being held in his facility."

"So I cannot sleep."

peace, Adem

The following account was recorded by Adem on April 5th, who notes that "all information was recorded first hand from the parents..." (I removed the names and fixed the grammar and punctuation up a bit, but otherwise it's what Adem wrote):

"Two weeks prior to March 24th [the Bangladeshi girl] 16 year old high school student who attended Environmental Studies in Manhattan was visited by two detectives from the local precinct. The detectives came without warrants and spoke to [her] mother. The detectives were identified by [the mohter] as being [a] Pakistani female and [a] white American male who were both in civilian clothing. [She] told them to come back when her husband was home, but the detectives insisted on talking to her and coming inside the house."

"They did not show her any warrant or any paper. [She] sincerely let both detectives in. The detectives came in claiming to investigate [her daughter's] absence from school while she never been to school since September 2005. [She] explained that [her daughter] would be doing home schooling and will be obtaining a GED due to problems arising at school with her Islamic dress code and the school's dress code."

"The male detective asked if [the girl] had plans to go to Saudi Arabia. The female detective then proceeded to search the house and entered [her daughter's] room. There the detective searched through [her] belongings for more than one hour without any warrant. The next day [she] received a phone call from the female detective who fabricated to [her] that [her daughter] believed in extremist beliefs and promoted concepts like suicide bombing. [Her daughter] made it very clear that she was pro-life and was against such concepts. [She] said she didn't raise [her daughter] with such concepts. [Her daughter] validated the fabrication made by the detectives and reaffirmed that she believes in a peaceful and pro-life religion."

"On March 24th [the girl] was visited by two agents at 5 AM in the morning. Her mother was approached and the agents told her they were from INS. Special Agents but they did not show any form of warrant or paper. [They] claimed they were from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency."

"The agents approached the mother, who did not speak English fluently, and requested that she sign a document(the father was not home at that morning). According to the mother the document was permission to only ask [her daughter] questions. The agents told her mother that the reason they were taking [her daughter] was because of a political asylum case that her case was dismissed because she did not show up at her appointment date."

"According to [the mother] there were about ten to twelve agents who came into the house and searched through the house for almost two hours. They confiscated [her daughter's] computer, her reading materials including personal journals, notebooks and her mother's cell phone."

"The agents insisted they take [the] 16 year old alone with them to Federal Plaza and not [her mother] because of [her] four month infant. Even though [the] brother and sister were [in]volved in the same political asylum case only [the 16-year-old girl] was taken and detained. She was held at the Plaza for eleven hours, from 7AM to 6PM."

"In tears, [the mother] said that at the Plaza, [her daughter] was not questioned about her immigration but threatened that if she did not comply her brothers and sisters would be sent to foster homes and her parents would be deported back to Bangladesh. After being threatened [the girl] was asked if she was part of any terrorist organizations and interrogated about her beliefs and conviction in Islam."

"[The girl] was then taken to Pennsylvania and held there at a youth detention facility at the following address: Berks Family Shelter Care Facility, 1243 County Welfare Road, Leesport, PA 19533."

"Till today she is being held there. [The girl] - who believes in wearing the Islamic veil the "nikab" - is not allowed to wear the dress code at her current detention center. This violates her ability to practice her religion."

"The parents proceeded to contact an immigration lawyer to free their 16 year old daughter. The lawyer listed below was given $2,500 in advance and promised her release but the lawyer refused to show up on the first hearing: Brian J. Tucker NYC."

"The lawyer to date refused to directly communicate to the parents and said Pennsylvania was out of his way. According to the lawyer the judge said the lawyer needs to provide evidence that she's not a terrorist. Any inquiry made by the parents about the case was angrily rejected by the lawyer. The lawyer would not return phone calls and seems uncertain in representing [the girl's] case for the next hearing scheduled Friday, April 8, 2005."

"Upon her recent visit [the girl's mother] said she saw [her daughter] after two weeks and she was very upset. [An] officer and supervisor at the facility allowed [the mother] to see [her daughter] and spoke to her 2 weeks after she was taken. The family has been torn by the abduction and detention of [the] 16 year old minor."

"[Her parents] now live in fear. They are unable to sleep at night and keep all their doors and windows locked. They are even afraid to step outside. [Her father] said that it is a very difficult state for anyone to endure, to watch their child being taken away from them and not hear from them for more than two weeks. [The father] believes his family is being singled out as Muslims like all the other Muslim Americans who have been harassed after September 11th."

Who Can We Write To Help?

Last night at the Queens Museum of Art there was a panel called "DISAPPEARED IN AMERICA: Art, Activism & Law in the Age of Insecurity." They "added a discussion after Saturday's panel, where we will discuss possible next steps that concerned citizens can take in the case of the two 16-year old girls who have been detained on alleged "bomb plot.""

Unfortunately, I didn't learn of this panel until today, but these are the people that spoke at the panel: "Prachi Patankar, anti-detention activist, spokesperson for Blue Triangle Network; Rachel Meeropol, attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights; editor of AMERICA'S DISAPPEARED; Aziz Huq, VISIBLE Collective; attorney at Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School on democracy and national security issues; Tariq Abdel-Muhti, son of Farouk Abdel-Muhti, Palestinian activist and WBAI reporter who died from heart attack from complications during his two-year detention; Aimara Lin, national coordinator, Not In Our Name; and granddaughter of Japanese-American internees; Theresa Thanjan, director, WHOSE CHILDREN ARE THESE?" The moderator was "Naeem Mohaiemen, Director, VISIBLE, a collective of Muslim and Other Artist-Activists ."

This is some information I found about the speakers. I'm hoping people will visit their Websites to learn more about this and to contact these people to see what we can all do:

Disappeared In America is a Website devoted to the thousands of American Muslims "detained in a security dragnet" ever since 9-11. The Center For Constitutional Rights "is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

The New York and Pennsylvania chapters of the ACLU might also be a good place to contact. Desis Rising And Moving (D.R.U.M.) "is a community-based social justice organization of low-income South Asian immigrants in New York City founded in 1999."

For now, please visit those Websites and fill out the contact forms. Tas at Loaded Mouth is working on an e-mail generator so that everyone can just add their name and information to a form letter that we're working on.

I plan to stay on top of this story and I will do whatever I can to help get this heartbreaking story out. Again, I'm pleading with everyone to please get the word out; write your favorite bloggers, your local papers, your congressmen; and - if you have a blog - please blog about it.

These girls need our help.

(I posted this as a diary at Daily Kos early this morning and I'll be updating the diary (and my blog) as I learn more...if you have an account at Daily Kos please go recommend this diary: More on the Two Detained 16 Year Old Girls)


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