I wanted to write to you about something very important and urgent. Some of you may know about the high-profile Palestinian Muslim detainee in America, Sami al-Arian. For those who don’t, there is a succint review of his story at the end of this email.*
After five years of confinement under inhumane conditions, and after being acquitted of all charges related to aiding and abetting acts of terrorism, Dr. al-Arian was scheduled to be deported next month to be reunited with his family in eleven days, abstaining from both food and water. He is now in a very critical situation: if he does not receive proper treatment in the next few days, he will soon die of .. The government, however, has decided to renege on its agreement and is using legal games to keep him in prison indefinitely, to make an example out of him for anyone who would dare speak up for the Palestinians. In response, Dr. al-Arian has been carrying out a hunger strike for the last
The government has a responsibility to keep Dr. al-Arian alive, but without public pressure they will most certainly let him die. A hunger-strike is the only way Dr. al-Arian can protest against the inhumane and Kafka-esque treatment he is forced to endure; this is the only way for him to channel his intense frustration built up over five years of imprisonement. Whether or not this is the best thing for him to do, the terrible inertia of events has pushed him to the cliff’s edge.
WE HAVE TO SUPPORT HIM: first and most importantly, we need to call up the federal medical facility in Butner, North Carolina where he has been transferred to demand to know why they haven’t taken any steps to inject nutrients into his body to make sure he survives ( ). If calling is too difficult, you can email the facility, although keep in mind that calling is much more powerful. (BUH/EXECASSISTANT@BOP.GOV).
Second: we need to fax letters to Judge Gerald Lee who is presiding over the case ( ) to remind him that the government has a responsibility to maintain Dr. al-Arian’s health and to urge him to respect the terms of the plea bargain which stipulate that Dr. al-Arian be allowed to leave America next month.
EVERY DAY COUNTS: Dr. al-Arian’s life is literally on the line. With the weekend approaching, we need to do our best to get our calls and letters in before the end of Friday. OUR LETTERS HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE IN THE PAST, AND THEY WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE NOW. Even if they won’t secure his release, they will pressure the government into keeping him alive and treating him more humanely.
To keep updated on this important issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the Tampa Bay Justice listserv. You can also join the group Free Sami al-Arian.
Remember, this isn’t just about Dr. al-Arian: this is a test case for the government to see how far it can willfully punish the American Muslim community.
*Dr. al-Arian is a Kuwait-born Palestinian who moved to America in the 70’s. He has been an important activist; he even helped establish ISNA, among other things. Due to his outspoken support of Palestinians, the government has been leading a witchhunt against him on and off for the last fourteen years. They arrested him in 2003 on charges of aiding and abetting a Palestinian terrorist group, although they were never able to produce any evidence that he ever supported acts of violence against Israelis or anyone else. Nevertheless, the government has being making an example out of Dr. al-Arian, subjecting him to horrendous conditions in jail. Unable to convict him, the Department of Justice threatened to manipulate the legal system to try to keep him in jail indefinitely. Because of this, Dr. al-Arian entered into a plea bargain last year with the government that he would be deported by next month. Nevertheless, the government recently announced that it would not honor this date, blatantly violating its own plea bargain.
(for more information, please see www.freesamialarian.com)