Statement of Solidarity in Support of Lynne Stewart from Farouk Abdel-Muhti
Farouk Abdel-Muhti died suddenly of an apparent heart attack July 21, after speaking at a Human Rights meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Farouk, a Palestinian solidarity activist, was only 57 years old. He had been released just three months ago from his illegal detention in nine U.S. prisons. He was a stateless Palestinian, detained by the U.S. government without charges for almost two years718 daysmuch of the time in solitary confinement. During his detention he organized fellow prisoners around an open protest letter to prison authorities protesting their confinement and an eight-day hunger strike.
It appears that his detainment was a direct result of his organizing, in which, Farouk was airing the voices of Palestinians from Israeli-occupied territory, including from Jenin while it was under siege, on WBAI, the New York Pacifica radio station. Since Farouks release from prison on April 12, he was touring the country and speaking out against the unconstitutional detention and torture of Arabs and Muslims in U.S. prisons and on behalf of the Palestinian victims of Israeli terrorism. During his July 21 speech in Philadelphia (of which Amy Goodman played an excerpt on Democracy Now,, July 22), Farouk called for continuing resistance to oppression in the U.S. and Palestine. He called for unity amongst all who resist oppression.
We print below the Statement of Solidarity in Support of Lynne Stewart, which Farouk Abdel-Muhti presented to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee, Bay Area meeting, July 10, 2004.
My words and my greetings to this beautiful committee and its friends, in support of the beacon of law and justice in the United States, who always calls for civil rights, civil liberties, and human rights, Attorney Lynne Stewart.
Dear brothers and sisters, and comrades. Is it a crime for a person to talk about human rights, justice, and civil rights today? Can it be possible that a lawyer who represents a victim can be accused of aiding and abetting terrorism? Something is wrong here. From my point of view, the real terrorists are the accusers and not the accused. But what is strange and unsettling is that they do it in front of the eyes of the victims, the families of the victims, and their supporters, in front of those who believe in the law.
But till this moment we, the progressive community, have not taken a stronger position legally on the national and international level, to come to the rescue of this prominent, eloquent, professional lawyer, symbol of integrity, Lynne Stewart. We need to raise our voices loudly in unity, for justice to come to the rescue of Ms. Stewart from the talons of these vultures.
It is my honor to be with you in support of my friend, comrade, and legal advisor, Lynne Stewart. At this moment, I have been invited to speak at an organizing conference by the Socialist Party, USA, taking place tomorrow in Oakland. At the same time, I also have been invited to say a few words by all of you, Lynne Stewarts support committee.
By the way, I have not forgotten about my experience during my recent incarceration of almost two years, in nine jails in the United States, in Solitary Confinement, in an iron box for more than 8 months and 10 days, enduring physical and psychological torture. But at the same time, hundreds, before, but also after 9/11, have been tortured in these same prisons in the U.S., under the orders of the I.N.S., now B.I.C.E. (Bureau of Customs Enforcement), under the direction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
This shows that it is not necessary to go to the prisons of Abu Ghraib in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to witness this kind of torture, because this can be found right here in the prisons of the United States, where they are holding immigrants and detainees, especially those from the countries of the southern hemisphere, Arabs, South Asians and Muslims, for indefinite periods of time, without rights, without charges, without access to lawyers, and oftentimes without even a hearing, the basic elements of due process, sometimes deporting them in secret when they can, leaving them to languish indefinitely when they cannot. This action on the part of this criminal administration destroys families, emotionally, financially, and psychologically, and is very damaging to the fabric of this country, which was built and maintained by immigrants.
During my incarceration, I was beaten and degraded, locked up in solitary confinement for more than eight months and 10 days, for 23 hours and 15 minutes daily, with just 45 minutes to make collect calls, shower and to clean my iron box. I was provoked every two days by guards who called me a terrorist, and searched my cell for weapons.
Finally, I told them the only weapon I have is my mind. They cut the water when I was taking a shower, causing soap to go in my eyes and stay in my hair, shone flashlights in my eyes and kept bright lights in my face 24 hours a day. They threatened me, mocked and degraded my culture and put chains on my hands and feet whenever I had visitors, visits from my lawyers, or visits to the clinic. All this, even though I was never charged with a crime and never saw a judge until my habeas corpus hearing, almost two years after my incarceration.
At this hearing, in which my lawyer from (CCR) Center For Constitutional Rights, Shayane Khadidal, argued successfully that I was being held unjustly and illegally because as a stateless Palestinian I could not be deported, I finally won my release, according to the law, and according to the fact that this fair judge saw what the Administration of George W. Bush, John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld and Tom Ridge were doing to me was immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional, just as they are doing to our role model of law and justice, to Lynne Stewart, and to many others.
We must not forget that this is not just a struggle against detainees, but also against police brutality, racism, injustice, occupation, exploitation and colonialism, denying the working class, which is a very important pillar in our struggle, along with the marginal people and those others from this society who support the truth, with democratic principle, for equality, rights and justice.
Dear brothers, sisters, and comrades, I won my freedom through the help of all of you, but the struggle continues, and we must work hard to win her case, on the side of justice for Lynne Stewart, and to continue this struggle on the side of the workers, the immigrants, the detainees and all oppressed people who are victims of this imperialistic, lawless machinery that is attempting to hijack our rights.
At this moment, I also do not forget my native family, and people, the Palestinian People, in the historical land of Palestine, who are waging a resistance struggle of national liberation for their land and rights, for their independence in their own sovereign state, according to June 1967 borders in their occupied lands, in accordance with UN Resolutions 242 and 338, with Jerusalem as its capitol and the right of return of our refugees to their lands, homes and properties, in accordance with UN Resolution 194, on the question of Palestine.
We must not forget to raise our voices in opposition to paying taxes to support the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, and to support the illegal Israeli war machine, which are using logistical and military hardware supplied by the United States, or to use these tax dollars to send our American sons and daughters to die in strange lands, to engage in oil wars for the real estates, multinational corporations, and mega-banks, in the name of liberation, which is really occupation, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world where the United States wants to further its hegemonic and imperialistic designs.
For that, we must cut the tentacles of this demonic imperialism, and we can use our unity as a weapon against these designs, without the differences of race, ethnicity or religion coming between us, because we are all one family, fighting in the name of justice, equality and rights. But we must always do this with a view to the principle of the struggle of the working class and marginal people, and those in support of us.
With revolutionary fervor, in the name of Lynne Stewart, our friend, sister, and comrade. With great respect, I dedicate this risala (statement) to all of you, in the name of justice.