Wednesday, August 03, 2005

August 5th 'Detainment' Benefit

Early in the spring, two 16-year-old Muslim girls, one originally from Bangladesh and the other from Guinea, were detained by the goverment as suspected "suicide bombers."

I first blogged about the arrests on April 9th, and the story so affected me that I wrote about the two girls again and again and again (and that's just a few of the posts I wrote).

Together with another blogger, Saurav of Dark Days Ahead, I started a blog called Detainment to raise awareness for the girls and to help their families. And the fine folks at The Nation linked to our blog and helped raise awareness (thanks to all the bloggers that linked to us, too).

Thanks to the support of many people in the blogosphere, both girls were quietly released, although one was deported to her native country, Bangladesh.

Last week, Nina Bernstein, a reporter at The New York Time wrote a follow-up story about the Guinean girl:

"When Adama Bah's schoolmates decided to make a public artwork project about her case last spring, she and another 16-year-old girl were being held by the federal government after it had identified them, without explanation, as potential suicide bombers."

"We didn't know if we would ever see her again," said Kimberly Lane, who was then an art teacher at the school, the Heritage School in East Harlem, where many viewed Adama's detention as unjust and incomprehensible. "This was a way for the students to use art to speak out at a time when a lot of people, including adults, were afraid to do anything."

"The result towers over anything that most people would expect high school students to produce. At Columbia University's Teachers College, where the work is on display through Thursday, the director of art education, Prof. Judith M. Burton, says it reminds her of Rodin's "Burghers of Calais."

"That comparison does not seem too outlandish when looking at the seven larger-than-life figures at the college's Macy Gallery, even though they are fashioned from papier mâché and wire covered with colored cloth. They stand and gesture in a dramatic ensemble, the smaller ones urgently calling for attention or trying to intervene, the larger ones looming silent, deaf and blind to the victim in their midst, who raises her arms to heaven in a plea for help."

"Adama is at least two heads smaller than the seven-foot figure designed to look like her, but the similarity is unmistakable. She was released from detention in May without being charged with a crime, just in time to pose for the 12 student artists - and to witness their crisis when the project seemed too controversial for the law firm where they had expected to display it."

"But nothing prepared Adama for the final result. "As soon as I walked in, I was, like, shocked," she said. "My mouth just dropped. It was beautiful."

"The reasons she was held for six weeks in a Pennsylvania detention center remain a mystery, and she and her lawyer, Natasha Pierre, are still under a court order not to discuss the case. The other girl, Tashnuba Hayder, is now back in her native Bangladesh. Adama, who came to New York as a toddler from Guinea, is fighting to stay here regardless of what happens to her father, a former cabdriver who is in immigration jail facing deportation after losing political asylum, which he had won by falsely claiming to be from Mauritania."

"These days, Adama acknowledges that her family is in difficult financial straits. The telephone has been shut off and her mother stays late at her trinket stand in Brooklyn, trying to earn enough to buy groceries for Adama and four younger children.

Both families still need help.

On August 5th, from 7 pm to 10 pm the Ad Hoc Coalition for Adama and Tashnuba, with activists from CAIR, Families for Freedom, DRUM, ICNA Relief 9/11 programs, NION, The Visible Collective, together with Jews for Social and Economic Justice, is co-sponsoring an interfaith and multicultural fundraiser for the families of two Muslim American teenagers recently and unfairly detained for national security reasons. The two families are of Bangladeshi and Guinean background.

The fundraiser, including performances by Bangladeshi & African Musicans, as well as other performers, will take place at the Brecht Forum, 451 West Street, New York, NY 10014. All monies will be split evenly between the 2 families. While we all share concerns about our safety as New Yorkers, many other innocents have been affected to maintain an image of a war on terror at the expense of our security. Come show support for those unfairly targeted as threats!

The fundraiser will follow the DISAPPEARED IN AMERICA exhibition (Visable Collective) and 6:30 PM: panel Discussion on Arts & Activism in an Age of Crisis, with Avideh Moussavian, New York Immigrant Coalition; Aziz Huq, NYU Brennan Center; Fariba Alam (BANGLA EAST SIDE); and Konrad Aderer (The ALAMS) and include brief showing of film.


August 5th, 5 PM-11PM

Brecht Forum, 451 West Street, New York, NY 10014

AMERICA'S CIVIL LIBERTIES CRISIS DISAPPEARED IN AMERICA Exhibition + FUNDRAISER for two teenagers unjustly detained & accused of being a threat to national security

Tashnuba Hyder (Bangladesh): detained and deported with family
Adama Bah (Guinea): detained and eventually released, all charges dropped

5 PM: DISAPPEARED IN AMERICA exhibition (VISIBLE Collective)
7 PM: PANEL DISCUSSION on Arts & Activism in Age of Crisis
8 PM: FUNDRAISER with performances

Performers :

*Bengali musicians
*Guinean musicians
*Spoken word artists

Sponsored by Ad Hoc Coalition for Adama and Tashnuba, Detainment, Visible Collective (Disappeared In America) and other Activist Groups.

5-7 PM: Opening of DISAPPEARED IN AMERICA exhibit @ Brecht Forum
Brief remarks by members of VISIBLE Collective
7-8 PM: Panel Discussion: Artists & Activists respond to the Civil Liberties crisis

Moderator: Naeem Mohaiemen, VISIBLE Collective

Avideh Moussavian, New York Immigrant Coalition
Aziz Huq, NYU Brennan Center
Konrad Aderer (The ALAMS)


8-11PM: Fundraiser for Tashnuba Hyder and Adama Bah

*Family and friends of Tashnuba & Adama talk about the case
*Update on case from Adem Carroll
*Bengali musicians
*Guinean musicians
*Spoken word artists
*Others TBA
*Film Clips

If you can't attend, you can still help the families of Tashnuba and Adama:

Donate online or send checks to:

Emergency Families Fund / CAIR
c/o 9-11 relief program / Adem Carroll
166-26 89th Avenue
Jamaica, NY, 11432

Donations are tax exempt.


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