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December 2002 • Vol 2, No. 11 •


Palestinian Activist Released


Amer Jubran is a Palestinian human rights activist from Rhode Island. He helped found the New England Committee for the Defense of Palestine, an increasingly prominent organization of activists.

On Saturday, November 2nd, the newly formed New England Committee to Defend Palestine (NECDP) held a protest rally and march through downtown Boston. Two days later, Amer Jubran was taken from his home by agents of the FBI and INS.

Although Amer has not been charged with any crime, he was imprisoned for 17 days at the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston, Rhode Island, and, under current U.S. law, he could have been detained there indefinitely. While the case is being handled under the jurisdiction of the INS, its substance has nothing to do with whatever alleged technicality the INS is holding him for.

Amer was arrested illegally, without a warrant, and, during the arrest, was verbally and physically assaulted by INS agent David Atkins. Moreover, he was arrested for obviously political reasons—the INS, after threatening him with fifty years in prison, told him that he would be home by lunchtime if he answered the FBI’s questions about his political organizing in Boston. It was only after Amer invoked his constitutional right to have an attorney present that he was arrested.

A defense committee, the Amer Jubran Defense Committee (AJDC), was formed immediately and started contacting a broad spectrum of friends, allies and associates in the civil rights and antiwar movement both in the U.S. and abroad. A typical communication was published in Socialist Viewpoint last month.

In its requests for support, the committee noted, “The will of the INS, as expressed by INS agent Mike Clifford—who hung up on Amer’s lawyer immediately after telling him this over the phone—is to detain Amer indefinitely without having to give reasons. Our will is that Amer be released immediately so that he can continue his articulate and courageous political activism on behalf of the Palestinian people, which is the only reason he was put in jail in the first place.”

Consequently, the INS received such a deluge of letters, faxes, and telephone calls that they scheduled a hearing contrary to their stated intent.

Then the AJDC arranged for a show of support by sending a call to local supporters to assemble outside the JFK Federal Building in Boston, where the hearing was to be held. In part, the AJDC notice read:

Assemble tomorrow [November 21] at 8:00AM, directly outside the Government Center T stop entrance. Once enough supporters have gathered there, we’ll brief everybody on Amer’s situation and then start channeling people into the courtroom. We are planning for an informational picket after the hearing takes place, but our primary goal is to fill Judge Shapiro’s court with people unwilling to tolerate anything less than Amer’s immediate release from INS detention.

The campaign was successful. On the evening of November 21, 2002, the committee sent out a press release and notice to its supporters:

We are all pleased, of course, that thanks to international personal, legal and political pressure, Amer Jubran is no longer in INS custody. Our work, however, is just beginning. Amer’s next hearing is scheduled for February 2003, but we have no intention of letting this travesty drag on that long. It’s up to us to force the INS, with such pressure as they’ve never seen, to drop all proceedings against Amer immediately.
We must also make this case a model for the dozens of other defense cases being fought nationwide, and we must draw the link between Amer and the hundreds of other innocents, particularly Arab men, who have been detained unconstitutionally or illegally in the last year or before. Perhaps most important, we must connect this case to Amer’s lifelong struggle on behalf of the people of Palestine.
The Amer Jubran Defense Committee has consistently characterized the detention of Amer Jubran as a politically motivated attack on free speech and legal activism. It is the local face of “homeland security,” and threatens the civil liberties and constitutional guarantees of all. While the government today offered the pretext that Jubran’s detention was because of an immigration technicality, it is clear from the extended detention that this is an ongoing effort to silence those who speak out loudly for the rights of Palestinians to resist oppression. The next task is to bring an end to the continued prosecution of this matter.…

Socialist Viewpoint urges all its readers to write letters as the AJDC requests to the INS, the FBI, and the U.S. Justice Department protesting the harassment of Amer Jubran. For names and addresses for your protests, the committee can be reached at:

Amer Jubran Defense Committee
P.O.Box 755
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Also, a web site is running at www.amerjubrandefense.org





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