Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bond denied for defendant in 1983 Conn. robbery

(April 26th, 2012 Associated Press  

FILE - In this May 10, 2011 file photo, Luis Fraticelli, Puerto Rico's top FBI official, stands next to a wanted poster showing Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, at a news conference at FBI headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after Claudio's arrest. Federal prosecutors in New Haven, Conn., argued in papers filed Wednesday, April 18, 2012, that Gonzalez, awaiting trial in a record-setting 1983 robbery, is too dangerous to be released on bond. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo, File)
HARTFORD, Conn. - A federal judge denied a bond request Thursday from a Puerto Rican nationalist charged in one of the largest cash robberies in U.S. history, saying the man lived as a fugitive for more than 25 years and cannot be trusted to appear for trial.

Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, who was captured by the FBI in Puerto Rico in May, asked to be released from a Rhode Island detention center so that he could consult associates more easily as he considers his legal options in the case of the 1983 Connecticut robbery.

Several family members and supporters offered to put up $400,000 in real estate to secure his bond, and Gonzalez gave assurances he would not jeopardize their finances by fleeing.

But Magistrate Judge Thomas Smith said in his ruling that the risk of flight was too great to release Gonzalez.

"Mr. Gonzalez-Claudio's ties to his family were not powerful enough to keep him from living as a fugitive for over 25 years and, hence, the court cannot place much credence in his promise," Smith wrote.

Gonzalez, who is in his mid-60s, is accused of aiding the 1983 robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo armored car depot in West Hartford, Conn. The heist, the largest cash robbery in U.S. history at the time, was orchestrated by Los Macheteros, a militant wing of the broader movement for Puerto Rican independence.

Gonzalez has pleaded not guilty to federal charges including bank robbery, conspiracy and transportation of stolen money.

In his ruling, Smith noted that the agents who arrested Gonzalez in a town in central Puerto Rico also found in his possession bomb-making manuals and an unregistered, loaded machine gun at his bedside. He said that in addition to any prison time imposed in Connecticut, Gonzalez faces potential imprisonment in Puerto Rico for having the weapon.

58 Days of Hunger Strike for Thaer Halaleh – struggle continues despite serious health issues

Palestinian political prisoner, Tha’er Halahla, entered his 58th days of hunger-strike at the Ramla Prison Hospital, and is still determined to continue his strike while prison doctors warned that his body is losing its immunity system and his organs might be failing.

Lawyer of the Mandela Institute, Anwar Abu Lafy, visited Halahla and stated that a recent CT-Scan for his liver and kidneys revealed that his body is unable to function and that his life is in grave danger.

Abu Lafy stated that Halahla, 34, is unable to walk or stand, suffering from sharp chest pain, stomach ache, and can barely see with his right eye.

Halahla also lost 24 kilograms and is suffering from law blood pressure, very law sugar levels, escalating heart beats, hair loss, bleeding from his mouth and gums, and weakening muscles.
Despite his deteriorating health condition, Halahla told his lawyer that he is determined to continue his strike until Israeli voids the administrative detention order against him, and called on human rights groups to pay attention to the miserable conditions sick detainees are subject to at the Ramla Prison Hospital.

Halahla is from Kharas village, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron; he was kidnapped by the army in June 2010, and has been held under administrative detention that was repeatedly renewed without charges.

On Monday, April 23, Israel prevented a lawyer of the Mandela Institute from visiting hunger-striking Palestinian detainees held at the Gabloa’ Prison.

Head of the Mandela Institute, Botheina Doqmaq, stated that the administration at the Galboa’ prison even prevented the lawyer from visiting detainee Jamal Abu Al-Haija, despite the fact that the visit was approved beforehand.

There are more than 4,600 Arab political prisoners held by Israel according to latest figures published by the Ad-Dameer Prisoner Support Association on April 17; Palestinian Prisoners Day.
The vast majority are from the West Bank, while approximately 475 are from the Gaza Strip, and 360 are from Israeli controlled East Jerusalem and the 1948 territories.

Israel is still holding captive six women, 183 children, and 27 democratically-elected Palestinian legislators, including Marwan Barghouthi who was sentenced to more than five life-terms, legislator Jamal Terawi, who was sentenced to 30 years, and Ahmad Sa’adat who was sentenced to 30 years.
In addition, 24 legislators are currently being held under Administrative Detention orders without charges.

120 Palestinian detainees have been imprisoned since before the first Oslo peace agreement was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993, 23 of them have been imprisoned for more than 25 years.

Women prisoners on full and partial hunger strikes

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A human rights advocate said Wednesday that Palestinian women detained in Israel will join the mass hunger strike by refusing food for two days each week.

Ahmad al-Bitawi, a researcher for the International Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights, said Lina Al-Jarbouni was moved to solitary confinement in Ramla prison for refusing to stop her 9-day hunger-strike.

Last Tuesday, marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, at least 1,200 prisoners in Israeli jails launched an open-ended hunger strike.

They are demanding a change in their living conditions and an end to solitary confinement, night raids and bans on family visits for prisoners from Gaza.

Prison authorities offered female detainees to meet the hunger-strikers’ demands, but the women refused, insisting the administration make the same offer to all prisoners, al-Bitawi said.

The 2-day hunger-strike starting Wednesday in Hasharon prison will be followed by an open strike, al-Bitawi added.

There are eight women imprisoned in Israel, Bitawi said. Hebron university students Islam Hassan al-Bashiti, Fatima al-Zahra Mohamad Sidir and Afnan Ismael Ramadan were detained recently on suspicion of associations with the Islamic movement, he noted.

Five other women are imprisoned in Israel, he said, naming them as Lina al-Jarbouni, Woroud Qassem, Ala al-Jabah, Salwa Hassan and Inas Saed.

Hunger Strike: Repression and Resistance Continue

News items as reported by Ali Samoudi: Samidoun
  • Special units of the Israeli prison administration raided an isolation ward in Jalama prison on April 25, 2012 after the prisoners there announced their participation in the hunger strike. The prisoners were reported transferred to an unknown destination.
  • 140 prisoners in Megiddo prison on hunger strike on the ninth day of the Battle of the Empty Stomachs, the hunger Strike for Dignity, from at least Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front, were transferred to other locations. Prisoners in Megiddo prison, as well as in Bir Saba prison were subject to raids, inspections and beatings, at the same time hundreds more prisoners announced they would join the strike within several days. All sports television had been removed previously; today all news programming was removed from the prisoners’ cells.
  • A spokesperson for the central leadership committee of the strike reported that the prison administration had engaged in extensive night raids over the past 2 days in an attempt to create an atmosphere of fear among the prisoners. Prisoners’ salt was confiscated and they have been isolated from the outside world. He emphasized that the response to this aggression by the prison administration must be for all prisoners to join the strike as soon as possible.
  • He said that the raids did not deter the prisoners’ commitment nor impair their resolve or position, saying that the leadership committee is continuing to coordinate among all prisoners and adhering to their demands despite pressure and threats.
  • A lawyer from the Mandela Association was prohibited from visiting isolated prisoners in Gilboa prison on April 25, reported lawyer Buthaina Duqmaq, president of the federation. She was denied permission to visit Sheikh Jamal abu el Hija, Mohammed Arman and Sayyed Abbas, the reason stated that they were on hunger strike.
  • 150 prisoners in Ofer prison joined the strike on April 25 and 100 more will join the 1st of May. All factions will join the open hunger strike, and all prisoners not engaged in full open hunger strike will return all of their meals on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, as Ofer prisoners have been doing since April 17.

Court Hearing and Call-in Day Thursday, April 26 Stop the FBI Frame-up of Carlos Montes

Today, please call:
-- President Obama at 202-456-1111
-- Attorney General Eric Holder at 202-514-2001
Demand: "Drop the charges now! Stop the FBI Frame-up of Carlos Montes!"

Contact us and let us know how your calls went:

The FBI and LA sheriffs want to frame Carlos Montes. At his next 
court hearing on Thursday, April 26 in Los Angeles, Carlos' attorney 
will argue a legal motion to drop the charges on the grounds of 
"discriminatory enforcement of the law." This means they are only 
prosecuting Carlos because of his solidarity and anti-war work. Also 
on Thursday, a trial date may be set!

At the last court hearing, one old document from the California 
Department of Justice showed that the old charges from 1969 against 
Carlos Montes were sentenced as a misdemeanor.

We will also continue to pursue via discovery how the FBI is driving 
the persecution of Carlos Montes, because of his decades of 
organizing against war and his solidarity work with the struggle of 
the Palestinian and Colombian people and his ongoing work in the 
Chicano/a community, promoting public education and fighting for 
immigrant rights.

The prosecution of Carlos Montes by the LA County District Attorney 
continues, despite evidence that should cause it to be thrown out of court.

If you are in the Los Angeles area...

Join us at the Court!
Thursday, April 26, 2012
8:00 a.m.
Criminal Courts Bldg.
211 West Temple St, Los Angeles
Dept. 123 on the 13th floor
For more info go to


Chicano leader and long-time anti-war activist Carlos Montes is the 
target of a FBI frame up. The FBI and Los Angeles Sheriffs broke down 
Carlos' door, ransacked his home, and took his notes and papers, May 
17, 2011. Carlos Montes refused to answer the FBI agent's questions. 
The raid on Carlos is linked to the FBI repression of 23 anti-war 
activists who organized the mass protests outside the 2008 Republican 
National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Along with many others, 
Carlos Montes name appeared on the FBI search warrant for the 
Anti-War Committee office in Minneapolis on September 24, 2010.

Now Carlos Montes is facing multiple felony charges, because the FBI 
claims he is a felon in violation of firearm codes. The FBI claim 
stems from a 1969 student strike for Black, Chicano, and Women's 
studies at East L.A. College, where police beat and arrested 
demonstrators. Carlos was arrested on his way home from the protest; 
accused of assaulting a sheriff's deputy (with an empty soda can). 
This charge was sentenced as a misdemeanor according to a recent 
court document. The prosecution is basing their case on this 
42-year-old misdemeanor, disguising it as a bogus felony. Without a 
past felony, all of the charges Montes is now facing relating to his 
legally purchased firearms would be dismissed. Both sides agree that 
no prison time whatsoever was served in the 1969 incident. The legal 
process is being driven by something other than the facts of the 
case. It is political repression.

Female Detainee Sent To Solitary Confinement

Wednesday April 25, 2012  by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies 

In an illegal attempt to force an end to her hunger-strike, the Israeli Prison Administration has placed detainee Lina al-Jarbouni, 37 years old, into solitary confinement at the Ramla Israeli prison.
Lina Al-Jarbouni -
Lina Al-Jarbouni -
Al-Jarbouni's hunger-strike began on Tuesday, joining thousands of other Palestinian detainees on hunger strike. Her decision made her subject to constant harassment and abuse by her Israeli jailers in an attempt to force her break her strike.

Sources close to her family stated that soldiers of the “Nachshon” brigade, operating in Israeli prisons and detention camps, forced Lina into solitary confinement at the Ramla Prison after transferring her from the Ha-Sharon prison.

Lina al-Jarbouni is from Arabba al-Batouf village, near the Palestinian City of Akka (Akko - Acre), in the north of the country. She was born to a Palestinian family on January 11, 1974.

On April 18, 2002, al-Jarbouni was arrested and interrogated for more than 30 days at the al-Jalama interrogation facility where she was tortured and abused.

She was subsequently sentenced by an Israeli court to 17 years imprisonment for what Israel calls “contacting an enemy”, and “aiding a suicide bombing”. Israel refused to release al-Jarbouni during the Shalit Prison-Swap deal with the Palestinian resistance in Gaza.

There are more than 4,600 Arab political prisoners held by Israel according to the Ad-Dameer Prisoner Support Association who issued the latest figures on April 17; Palestinian Prisoners Day. The vast majority are from the West Bank, while approximately 475 are from the Gaza Strip, and 360 are from Israeli controlled East Jerusalem and the 1948 territories.

Israel is still holding captive six women, 183 children, and 27 democratically-elected Palestinian legislators, including Marwan Barghouthi who was sentenced to more than five life-terms, legislator Jamal Terawi, who was sentenced to 30 years, and Ahmad Sa’adat who was sentenced to 30 years. In addition, 24 legislators are currently being held under Administrative Detention orders without charges.

120 Palestinian detainees have been imprisoned since before the first Oslo peace agreement was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993, 23 of them have been imprisoned for more than 25 years.

Mass hunger strike grows despite Israel’s best efforts to repress it

April 25, 2012 by Maureen Clare Murphy Electronic Intifada

Boy stands in front of poster featuring faces of hunger-striking prisoners
An estimated 2,000 Palestinian political prisoners are currently on open-ended hunger strike.
(Mahfouz Abu Turk / APA images)
The Palestinian human rights and prisoner advocacy group Addameer announced today that the mass, open-ended hunger strike in Israeli prisons which began on 17 April, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, has now grown to an estimated 2,000 participants. Addameer renews its calls for action in support of the hunger striking prisoners.

Palestinian prisoners are protesting Israel’s practice of administrative detention — imprisonment without charge or trial — as well as solitary confinement, the denial of family visits and access to education, and other punitive measures of Israel’s system of arrest and detention which is designed to break the Palestinian struggle for freedom and liberation.

Israel trikes to break strikers’ will

The growth of the open-ended hunger strike is despite the Israeli authorities’ punishment of hunger strikers. According to Addameer, “Methods of punishment currently being employed against hunger striking prisoners include attacks on prisoners’ sections; confiscation of personal belongings; transfers from one prison to another; placement in solitary confinement; fines; and denial of family and lawyer visits.” The Israeli authorities are also reported to be confiscating salts for hunger strikers’ water — the only nourishment they are consuming.

Addameer reports today that hunger strikers include the 19 prisoners who have already been held in solitary confinement, including PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat, who has been held under lockdown for more than three years. According to Addameer, Saadat has already lost 6kg, or approximately 13 pounds.

Eight prisoners remain on extended hunger strikes begun before 17 April. These include Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab, whose appeals against their administrative detention orders were dismissed by a military judge on Monday despite their rapidly deteriorating condition. Seven of these men have been transferred to Ramleh prison medical center.

Halahleh and Diab are now into their 57th day of hunger strike. Halahleh has previously been held under administrative detention four times, and his 22-month-old daughter was born while he was behind bars, and he has never had a chance to meet or hold her. Meanwhile, Diab’s brother Azzam, also in Israeli prison, has embarked on a solidarity hunger strike.

According to Addameer, the remaining Palestinian women prisoners in HaSharon prison who are not on strike have announced that they will join the hunger strike beginning 1 May. Addameer’s full release is below.

Solidarity with Bahraini hunger striker

Meanwhile, in Bahrain, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja enters his 77th day of hunger strike. Al-Khawaja was jailed along with others for leading the pro-democracy uprising in the Gulf country.

Palestinian political prisoner Ameer Makhoul has issued a letter of solidarity to al-Khawaja and to the people of Bahrain. Makhoul stated from Gilboa prison: “When the will is free and the cause is just, and you embody both, the human is capable of making miracles happen, and no oppressive, tyrannical, murderous regime can harm it, not the Bahraini regime, subject to US colonial imperialism, or the Israeli colonial system in Palestine. It is the system of colonialism and its puppet regimes that have lost all legitimacy, while the people are legitimacy and its source.”
Here’s Makhoul’s full statement, rougly translated from Arabic.

Personalizing hunger strikers

The Electronic Intifada will continue to profile Palestinian political prisoners currently on hunger strike. Last week we published Rami Almeghari’s feature on Mahmoud Sarsak, a member of the Palestinian national football squad who was hospitalized after being on hunger strike for a month.
Meanwhile, Shahd Abusalama published on her blog today a translation of an Arabic-language diary published on Facebook by Loai Odeh, who participated in a 22-day hunger strike last September shortly before his release from Israeli prison. Odeh’s entries describe his experience on each consecutive day of hunger strike, so that others have a better idea of what hunger striking prisoners are going through.

Addameer’s full statement on Palestinian hunger strikers:

Ramallah, 25 April 2012 On 17 April 2012, Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons launched a mass hunger strike demanding an end to administrative detention, isolation and other punitive measures taken against Palestinian prisoners including the denial of family visits and access to university education.
Approximately 1,200 Palestinian prisoners from all factions began an open hunger strike on 17 April, with the campaign gaining further momentum over this past week and additional prisoners joining daily. Addameer estimates that the current number of prisoners engaged in open hunger strike is around 2,000. This number includes the 19 prisoners currently held in isolation for “security reasons.” Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who has been held in isolation for over three years, reported on 23 April that since the beginning of his hunger strike on 17 April, he had already lost 6 kg.
As during hunger strikes in the past, the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) has escalated its punishments of hunger striking prisoners in an effort to undermine the campaign. Methods of punishment currently being employed against hunger striking prisoners include attacks on prisoners’ sections; confiscation of personal belongings; transfers from one prison to another; placement in solitary confinement; fines; and denial of family and lawyer visits. Addameer lawyers have been denied access to all hunger striking prisoners.
Forty prisoners who began their hunger strike today in Ofer prison were informed that they will be transferred to another section of the prison and will not be permitted to bring with them any personal belongings except clothes. In Ashkelon prison, the 150 hunger strikers are experiencing daily raids and attacks on their rooms by Israeli special forces. In addition to all personal belongings being confiscated, the IPS also confiscated the hunger-striking prisoners’ only nourishment: salt for their water. Hunger striking prisoners in Nafha prison have also had their salt confiscated, raising serious health concerns for the prisoners engaged in hunger strike. Of the approximately 400 prisoners on hunger strike in Nafha, at least 40 were transferred out of their sections. Hunger strikers in Nafha have also been subjected to fines and electricity was cut in their rooms. On 23 April, six prisoners joined in the hunger strike in Naqab prison and were all immediately placed in solitary confinement. Female prisoner Lina Jarbouni also declared an open hunger strike on 19 April and was taken to solitary confinement on the same day. These aforementioned measures are only a few examples of the widespread punishments, particularly the use of transfers and solitary confinement, currently facing the hunger striking prisoners, as an attempt by the IPS to further isolate them from the outside world and from other prisoners involved in the campaign.
Meanwhile, eight prisoners, including five administrative detainees, remain on extended hunger strikes launched prior to 17 April. Seven of these prisoners have been transferred to Ramleh prison medical center. Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab are on their 57th day of hunger strike today. Despite their rapidly deteriorating medical condition, both of their appeals against their administrative detention orders were rejected by an Israeli military judge on 23 April. Yesterday, 24 April, Hassan Safadi’s petition to the Israeli High Court against his administrative detention was rejected. He is on his 52nd day of hunger strike. Administrative detainees Omar Abu Shalal and Jaafar Azzedine are on their 50th and 35th days of hunger strike respectively. Also now in Ramleh prison medical center are Mohammad Taj, on his 39th day of hunger strike demanding to be treated as a prison of war, and Mahmoud Sarsak, on his 34th day of hunger strike in protest of being held under Israel’s Unlawful Combatants Law. Lastly, Abdullah Barghouti, held in isolation in Rimon prison, is on his 14th day of hunger strike. Addameer reiterates its grave concern that these hunger strikers are not receiving adequate healthcare in the IPS medical center and that independent doctors are still being denied visits to them.
Despite the punitive measures being taken against hunger striking prisoners, the campaign of hunger strikes continues to grow. The six female prisoners in Hasharon who are not already on hunger strike have announced that they will begin an open hunger strike on 1 May. Additional prisoners are also expected to gradually join the campaign, including 120 in Ofer prison, who will start their hunger strike on 29 April. As the mass hunger strike picks up even more momentum, it will become that much more crucial for hunger striking prisoners to have unrestricted access to their lawyers and independent doctors.
In light of these developments, an upsurge of action at the international level is necessary to bring attention to the legitimate demands of Palestinian prisoners. Addameer therefore renews its call on all political parties, institutions, organizations and solidarity groups working in the field of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory and abroad to support the prisoners in their campaign of hunger strikes.

Mumia Abu-Jamal Speaks from Prison on Life After Death Row and His Quest for Freedom

April 25, 2012 Democracy Now!
download:   Video Audio Get CD/DVD More Formats Transcript |

In a Democracy Now! exclusive, Mumia Abu-Jamal phones in from the SCI Mahanoy prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania, where he is being held in general population after nearly 30 years on death row. Although he now lives in a bigger cell than what he calls the "small dog cage" of the last three decades, Mumia says his life sentence is akin to "a slow death row. It’s bigger in terms of the time differential, but it’s slow death row, to be sure." After having his death sentence overturned in late 2011, Abu-Jamal says he is determined to win his release from prison over allegations of racial bias and judicial misconduct in his conviction. "We want freedom," he says of the movement calling for his release. Supporters have long argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to Abu-Jamal’s conviction. He notes that during his trial a court reporter overheard the judge in his case, Judge Albert F. Sabo, say in his chambers, "I’m going to help them fry the nigger." "This was heard by a court reporter—a member of the court staff, a court employee, and a person that is perhaps the best listener you could ever have for any conversation, because that’s her job," Abu-Jamal says. "We didn’t know about it until years later, but when we put this into our papers, our filings, it has been essentially ignored by every court it’s come in front of. How is that possible? And so, I mean, that’s certainly one indication, as you can see, one example of an unfair system." [includes rush transcript]
Filed under  Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia Abu-Jamal, former death row prisoner. For decades, Abu-Jamal has argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to his conviction for the killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Last year, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside his death sentence after finding jurors were given confusing instructions that encouraged them to choose the death penalty rather than a life sentence.

HIV-Prisoner Died in April 2012 – Statement From Thomas Meyer-Falk

Willi was born 45 years ago – he died on 10th April 2012.

In 1996, Willi was infected with the HIV-virus through needle sharing in
the use of drugs in prison. Later he escaped, and to get money for
drugs and to finance his life on the road, he carried out some
robberies. Although no-one was ever physically injured.

When he was caught by the police the court convicted him to a long term
sentence, and the judges added the P.D. (preventive detention, a law
from 1933 made by the Nazis, which allows the prisons to keep someone
in prison after finishing their sentence, possibly for the rest of
their life, or at least as long as they believe someone could be a
“threat” to public safety).

In Spring 2011 the prison doctor approved Willi to be released, and to
have the chance to die outside the dungeon – but the merciless
German Judges and Prosecutors did everything that was possible to
foil this plan.

On 14th June 2011 he wrote to the courts, but the judge did
not reply. In November 2011 a lawyer phoned the judge and her first
statement was to moan about her work load. So Willi sent a second
appeal to the court on 9th November 2011. In February 2012
another judge engaged a psychiatrist to give expert advice about the
“dangerousness” of Willi.

The psychiatrist worked really fast and he visited Willi in March three
times and his conclusion was that, “He would be no danger for
public safety”.

On 24th March 2012 Willi woke up in the morning, and his
right arm was paralysed – the prison doctor did not look at his arm
until two days later. He ordered a medical examination by a
neurologist for the middle of April.

So Willi sat the last days of his life in his little cell, not really
knowing where he was, not really realising what was going on. If
there were not some inmates looking out for him, he would have been
alone. But luckily there were some good colleagues who supported him,
held his hand, helped him to smoke a cigarette or drink a coffee.

On Monday 9th April 2012 at lunch time, the officers found
Willi lifeless in his cell. So he was sent immediately to the local
hospital. His Mum was phoned to give her the chance to say goodbye to
her son. Early in the morning of the 10th April 2012 Willi

The totally irresponsible behaviour of the judges and the leader of
Baden-Wuerttemberg (one of the states of Germany), which was asked by
Willi in 2011 to pardon him and give him the chance to die as a free
man, prevented that Willi got the chance, after keeping him in prison
for half of his short life, to spend the last few months or weeks

I knew Willi for five years and wrote all his legal documents, so I
followed his “process to dying” - and it makes me blue and angry.

We should not forget him R.I.P. Willi.
Victim of the German Government and Courts.

Meyer-Falk, c/o JVA
32, D-76646 Bruchsal, Germany 

PP/POW Updates and Announcements - 24 Apr 2012

From:    "NYC ABC" <>
Date:    Tue, April 24, 2012


Here's the latest compilation of every other week updates. We've mailed
hard copies to Sundiata Acoli, Joe-Joe Bowen, David Gilbert, Marie Mason,
Eric McDavid, Daniel McGowan, Jalil Muntaqim and Sekou Odinga. Please feel
free to share this link:



Follow us on twitter:

Post Office Box 110034
Brooklyn, New York 11211


Free all Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War!
For the Abolition of State Repression and Domination!

Thursday (4/26): Urgent Mobilization to Sacramento!

risoner Hunger Strike Solidarity’s mediation team received word yesterday that the CDCR (CA Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation) will meet with the mediation team and family member representatives on Thursday at CDCR Headquarters in Sacramento to discuss the CDCR’s proposed regulation changes on SHU (Security Housing Unit) placement. Legislative aides from the State Assembly and Senate will also attend the meeting.

During Thursday’s meeting, Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity’s mediation team and family member representatives will support the hunger strikers, their rejection of CDCR’s proposal, and their five-core demands (Earlier this Spring, shortly after the CDCR released it’s proposal, hunger strikers in the SHU at Pelican Bay rejected the CDCR’s proposal and issued a counter proposal).

We need to show the CDCR & State legislators that the hunger strikers do not stand alone!  Please come to Sacramento Thursday, April 26th, for an urgent rally outside CDCR Headquarters before the meeting.

Palestinians Organise Hunger Tents in Support of Hasan al-Safadi and Detainees

Tuesday, 24 April 2012 PNN

Thousands of Palstinians around the West Bank and Gaza have joined in soidarity by setting up tents outside the Red Cross in Gaza and in areas around Ramallah and the West Bank, where the local communities are staging hunger strikes in support of the Palestinian prisoners held in administrative detention by the Israeli Prison Service.

There is currently growing concerns for the health of administrative detainee Hasan Al-Safadi, who has now passed his 52nd day of hunger strike in protest against being hed without charge or trial.

Hasan has been continuously arrested and detained since 1995, when he was detained for one year then again in 2002 and 2004, all of which he was held without trial in administrative detention.

On Palestine prisoners day, 160 prisoners began an open hunger strike while 2000 people marched towards the Red Cross in Gaza City in solidarity alongside thousands protesting around the West Bank. 160 detained prisoners began an open hunger strike with a further 2,300 prisoners who refused food for one day and 1,200 prisoners who claimed they would begin a hunger strike. This added to three quarters of the 4,700 Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons.

Number Of Hunger-Striking Detainees Could Reach 3,000

April 24, 2012 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies 

The number of hunger-striking Palestinian political prisoners, held by Israel in various prisons, detention camps and interrogation facilities around the country, will likely reach 3,000 persons as waves of detainees intend to join the strike, demanding their rights guaranteed under international law.
Israeli Prison - File Nablus TV
Israeli Prison - File Nablus TV
Dozens of detainees are currently on hunger-strike that officially started last Tuesday. The strike, described as “the battle of empty bowels”, aims at ending Israel’s illegal administrative detention polices, halting all violations against the detainees and their families, and improving the living conditions of the detainees.

Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS), Qaddoura Fares, told the Ma'an News Agency that the first group of detainees, held under administrative detention without charges, have reached the “no return point” as they have been on hunger-strike since 56 days, and insist on not breaking their strike until they are released.

Fares added that the second group of detainees have been on hunger strike for seven days now, and are demanding Israeli to improve their living conditions, allowing visitation rights, halting violations against their visiting family members, ending all solitary confinement policies, allowing them the right to education, and ending all night raids, and searches, targeting them and their rooms.

“The current number of detainees who are on hunger-strike is 1,400-1,600, and will likely increase to 3,000 in the coming few days” Fares said and added that it is unlikely that all 4,700 detainees will join the strike, but could hold solidarity hunger strikes, such as two days a week.

Fares said that the striking detainees are from different political factions and groups, and that they are all united in their legitimate demands regardless of their political affiliation.

It is worth mentioning that Israel conducted punitive measures against 1,200 Palestinian detainees by denying their visitation rights, and isolating them from the detainees who are not part of the protests yet.

Furthermore, a spokeswoman of the Israeli Prison Administration, stated that all “privileges” have been taken away from the detainees, including family visitations, and all electrical equipment has been removed.

140 Detainees Moved From Majeddo Prison

  Tuesday April 24, 2012 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies 
The International Tadamun (Solidarity) Foundation for Human Rights reported that the Israeli Prison Administration moved approximately 140 Palestinian hunger-striking detainees from the Majeddo prison to an undisclosed location. Most of the detainees are members of Hamas and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
File - Palinfo
File - Palinfo
Ahmad al-Beetawi, a researcher at the Foundation, reported that the detainees are believed to have been moved to Galboa’ prison, and that detained legislator, Ahmad al-Hajj; political leader, Rafat Naseef; and representative of Hamas detainees, Mohammad al-Aref, were among the detainees who were transferred out of Majeddo.

Al- Beetawi added that the detainees were not allowed to bring their clothes and belongings with them.

He said that this move is very dangerous as it aims at isolating the detainees from each other, and from the rest of world, adding that the Prison Administration also blocked all news TV channels.

Most of the detainees in Majeddo are on hunger-strike, including Dr. Mohammad Ghazal, a lecturer at the an-Najah University in Nablus who suffers from high blood pressure, and journalist Nawwaf al-Amer, who has diabetes and high blood pressure.

Al-Beetawi said that detainee Daoud Rawajba lost consciousness a few days ago, and requires urgent specialized medical attention.

All Islamic Jihad detainees said that they will join the hunger-strike today, Tuesday, while 150 Hamas detainees in Ofer prison will also be joining the strike in the coming two days.

Dozens of detainees started their hunger strike eight days ago demanding an end to all Israeli violations, including a demand to void the so-called Shalit law that prevents families of Gaza Strip detainees from visiting them.

The number of Palestinian hunger-striking political prisoners held by Israel in various prisons, detention camps and interrogation facilities around the country, will likely reach 3,000 as waves of detainees intend to join the strike, demanding their rights, guaranteed under international law.

Judge denies bond for Puerto Rican nationalist charged in 1983 Conn. robbery

April 26, 2012 Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — A federal judge denied a bond request Thursday from a Puerto Rican nationalist charged in one of the largest cash robberies in U.S. history, saying the man lived as a fugitive for more than 25 years and cannot be trusted to appear for trial.

Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, who was captured by the FBI in Puerto Rico in May, asked to be released from a Rhode Island detention center so that he could consult associates more easily as he considers his legal options in the case of the 1983 Connecticut robbery.

Several family members and supporters offered to put up $400,000 in real estate to secure his bond, and Gonzalez gave assurances he would not jeopardize their finances by fleeing.
But Magistrate Judge Thomas Smith said in his ruling that the risk of flight was too great to release Gonzalez.

"Mr. Gonzalez-Claudio's ties to his family were not powerful enough to keep him from living as a fugitive for over 25 years and, hence, the court cannot place much credence in his promise," Smith wrote.

Gonzalez, who is in his mid-60s, is accused of aiding the 1983 robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo armored car depot in West Hartford, Conn. The heist, the largest cash robbery in U.S. history at the time, was orchestrated by Los Macheteros, a militant wing of the broader movement for Puerto Rican independence.

Gonzalez has pleaded not guilty to federal charges including bank robbery, conspiracy and transportation of stolen money.

In his ruling, Smith noted that the agents who arrested Gonzalez in a town in central Puerto Rico also found in his possession bomb-making manuals and an unregistered, loaded machine gun at his bedside. He said that in addition to any prison time imposed in Connecticut, Gonzalez faces potential imprisonment in Puerto Rico for having the weapon.

Occupy The Justice Department Challenges Obama Administration Integrity on Prosecutor Misconduct Issue

April 23, 2012 This Can't Be Happening
by: Linn Washington Jr.

Holder knows this misconduct issue well because he has criticized it during congressional testimony, in fact as recently as March 2012 when he was commenting on a special prosecutor’s report castigating the wrongdoing of federal prosecutors.

That wrongdoing, Holder acknowledged, unlawfully tainted the corruption investigation and 2008 trial of the late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, who was convicted of corruption in his home state of Alaska.

Protesters, including fiery Philadelphia activist Pam Africa, want Holder to take action against the prosecutorial misconduct evident in scores of unjust convictions that have led to the wrongful imprisonment of political prisoners across America, most of them jailed for two or more decades.
Those political prisoners – ignored domestically while exalted abroad – include Native American activist Leonard Peltier, Puerto Rican Nationalist Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Cuban 5, author/activist Mumia Abu-Jamal and other former Black Panther Party members like the Omaha Two (Ed Poindexter and Mondo W. Langa).
Pam Africa with Mumia Abu-Jamal following the latter&#039;s transfer from Pennsylvania&#039;s death row to the general prison population 
Pam Africa with Mumia Abu-Jamal following the latter's transfer from Pennsylvania's death row to the general prison population

Demands of the Occupy The Justice Department protesters include the immediate release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the freeing all political prisoners, ending of the racist death penalty and the ending solitary confinement and torture.

Individuals and incidents underlying those demands are within the purview of USAG Holder to investigate and/or to act immediately to resolve.

April 24th is the birthday of Mumia Abu-Jamal, perhaps the most recognized U.S. political prisoner worldwide.

Abu-Jamal, for example, was the subject of two demonstrations held recently outside the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany, one of which included extending a 2,200-foot banner around that embassy building.

Pam Africa is the head of International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Philadelphia-based organization at the center of the international movement seeking Abu-Jamal’s release.

Africa is the dynamo who most Philadelphia police, prosecutors, politicians and many pastors love to hate because of her strident advocacy on behalf of both imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal and the MOVE members sentenced for a fatal 1978 shootout.

The nearly three-decades long advocacy of Pam Africa on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal – helping construct support networks while confronting incessant opposition – contributed to the climate where U.S. federal courts late last year finally killed the death sentence Abu-Jamal received following his controversial 1982 conviction for killing a policeman.

Abu-Jamal is now fighting against a life-without-parole sentence, which was automatically imposed when the death sentence was invalidated.

That elimination of Abu-Jamal’s government-sanctioned murder chagrined powerful figures across Pennsylvania and around America who had shamefully bent and broken laws (deliberately sabotaging court proceedings) in their various failed efforts to execute Abu-Jamal, known widely as the Voice-of-the-Voiceless.

While winning freedom for Abu-Jamal and the MOVE 9 is a prime focus of Pam Africa’s advocacy work, she is frequently found on ‘front-lines’ nationwide fighting for and end to the mistreatment of people regardless of their color and creed.

“Pam Africa is in each and every struggle for social justice in Philadelphia, the U.S. and abroad. It’s not just Mumia,” said Latino activist/writer Berta Joubert-Ceci, who recently chaired a program featuring former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney in West Philadelphia.

Dr. Claude Guillaumaud, a professor in France who has known Africa for 20-years, said she's “had time to appreciate her warm personality and total commitment to the cause of Mumia and the fight against racial discrimination and the barbaric death penalty.”

Temple University African-American history professor Dr. Tony Monterio first met Pam Africa during an ugly June 1979 incident in South Philadelphia where local police beat Africa. Philadelphia police pummeled her with nightsticks with one stick-strike knocking out some of her teeth.
The scholar in Dr. Monterio sees Pam Africa as a unique figure whose contributions locally, nationally and internationally merit both examination and recognition. He has initiated a process for what he envisions as a formalized study of Africa's life works.

Prosecutorial misconduct is a core element in the Abu-Jamal case. This festering injustice has been repeatedly dismissed by state and federal courts that have refused to grant legal relief to Abu-Jamal despite granting new trials to others where the evidence of prosecutorial misconduct was far less grievous than that evident in the Abu-Jamal case.

One example of prosecutorial misconduct in the Abu-Jamal case occurred during his 1982 murder trial, when the prosecutor perverted a comment Abu-Jamal made over a decade earlier when responding to a reporter’s question about the December 1969 murder by Chicago Police of Chicago Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton.

The police assassination of Hampton, later linked to the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO campaign, outraged many at the time, including leaders as diverse as the then head of the NAACP, Roy Wilkins and former U.S. United Nations Ambassador and Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg.
Hampton’s assassination, later documented by congressional and other investigations, was a part of a joint police-FBI campaign to slay BPP members which led to 28 BPP deaths between January 1968 and December 1969.

As a teenaged BBP member, Abu-Jamal told that reporter that Hampton’s murder proved that “power” comes from the barrel of a gun.

But the 1982 trial prosecutor shifted the context of Abu-Jamal’s comment from applying it to the police killing Black Panthers to a supposed proclaimation of Abu-Jamal’s intent to kill police. It was one of many factual mischaracterizations that millions worldwide constantly cite when charging Abu-Jamal received an unfair trial.

That improper perversion of Abu-Jamal’s 12-year-old comment made when he was just 15 helped sway jurors to send an award-winning journalist with no criminal record to death row. That same prosecutor had improperly excluded blacks from Abu-Jamal’s trial jury despite their having declared their willingness to impose a death penalty if warranted by the arguments at trial.

Not only was prosecutor Joseph McGill's twisting of Abu-Jamal’s comment an improper tactic -- it violated associational rights granted under the First Amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court gave new hearings in the early 1990s to two convicted murderers –- a white racist prisoner gang member in Delaware and a white devil worshipper in Nevada -– while denying comparable relief to former BPP member Abu-Jamal three times on the exact same issue of prosecutors improperly inflaming through use of constitutionally protected associations.

USAG Eric Holder, shortly after taking office in January 2009, went to court successfully to request dismissal of Sen. Stevens’ conviction, after finding that the federal prosecutor in that case withheld evidence of innocence from Stevens’ defense team and also tampered with witnesses and documents.
That recently released special prosecutor’s report in the Stevens case confirmed prosecutorial misconduct and wrongdoing.

The type of misconduct now confirmed in the Stevens case is rife in the cases U.S. political prisoners. Lawyers and supporters of Native American activist Leonard Peltier, for example, have documented federal authorities withholding evidence, presenting false evidence at trial although with intimidating witnesses into committing perjury.

The Occupy The Justice Department demonstrators are raising the issue of Holder’s credibility and of the ethical integrity of the Obama Administration in acting to dismiss the wrongful conviction of ex-Senator Stevens while ignoring the continued imprisonment of U.S. political prisoners who were also victims of misconduct by police and prosecutors.

On December 9, 2011 –- one day before the U.N. annual Human Rights Day –- Noble Peace Prize Laureate and noted anti-apartheid activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu asked America to “rise to the challenge of reconciliation, human rights and justice” in calling for the “immediate release” of Abu-Jamal.

One boy’s story: Palestinian-Cuban teen kidnapped in night raid, abused by Israeli army

April 24, 2012 by Ali Abunimah Electronic Intifada

In a family photograph, Qais Omran is seen playing the organ at a concert. He plans to study music.

On April 18, during the night, about 200 Israeli occupation soldiers descended on the village of Burin, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, arresting 10 teenage boys.

One of them is a 17 year-old Palestinian-Cuban high school senior called Qais Bilal Muhammad Omran. Although I’d heard about the raid from the International Solidarity Movement, Qais’ name caught my attention when Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer tweeted it earlier today:

Addameer –الضمير Qais Bilal Mohammad Omran Bureen, Nablus Date of Arrest: 18\4\2012 Date of Birth: 10\12\1994 Nationality: Cuban-pal
Apr 23 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

I decided to find out more. Addameer shared some more information with me, and I spoke to Qais’ Cuban mother Niurka Portocarrero, who has lived in Palestine for the past 14 years.

Qais and one of his siblings were born in Havana, where his parents met while his father was studying medicine. Qais holds a Cuban passport.
A gift for music

Qais, his mother told me, is a studious boy who has never been in trouble. He is musical and plays the organ – so well that he earns extra money performing at weddings and parties. He plans to study music after graduating from high school.
Seized in the middle of the night

Ms. Portocarrero told me that at about 2.30 AM dozens of soldiers came to the house, demanding Qais. At first, the family thought they meant an older relative, who is also called Qais. In any case, Qais Bilal Muhammad Omran wasn’t home.

“He was sleeping at his grandfather’s house,” his mother said, “He and his cousin are both studying for their high school exams, and when they study late, sometimes they sleep here and sometimes they sleep there.”

The soldiers demanded to be taken over to the grandfather’s house, and when they found Qais, they handcuffed him and took him away.
Cuffed, blindfolded, abused and threatened with guns

This is what happened next, according to an account Qais gave to Addameer’s lawyer, who visited the teen in detention:

The Israeli forces made him walk to the nearest settlement [about 2 kms] with his hands shackled, and also forced him to run. There were about 15 soldiers and another detainee from the same village walking with him. He reported that they tried to scare him multiple times by yelling at him and continuously insulting him.

They also tightened the shackles and played with their guns around him and near his head. One of the soldiers was yelling in Arabic: “Shoot, shoot”. After spending half an hour in the settlement, they transferred him to Howara in a military jeep, where they made him sit in a painful manner. They put him in a room and didn’t allow him to go to the bathroom, drink water or eat.

He was sent to interrogation in Salem. The interrogator tried to pressure him into confessing that he was throwing rocks but he denied it. In Salem, they kept him in a room with 14 other prisoners from 8am till 2pm (water, food and bathroom were not allowed). He’s now being held in Megiddo and in interrogation in Salem.

Military court

Qais’ mother says she has been told by Qais’ lawyer that her son will be taken before a military court in the next few days. “But we don’t know what he is accused of or what will happen,” she said.

We do know that what Qais is unlikely to get is justice in Israel’s military court system where arbitrary arrests and coerced confessions are the norm.

Indeed, nearly 100 percent of cases in the military courts, where prosecutors and judges are in fact officers of the Israeli occupation army, end in conviction.
Sharp increase in detention of Palestinian children

What’s extraordinary about Qais’ case is that it’s not extraordinary; it’s common. The anxiety and fear that Qais’ family feels is shared every year by hundreds of families for whom normal life, and a future for their children is made impossible by Israel’s brutal military rule.

Israeli arrests of children are sharply up, according to Defence for Children International - Palestine Section. There has been a 53 percent increase in the number of children held in military detention since December 2011, according to the organization, and March saw a 29 percent increase in the number of young children (12-15 years) being detained. As of the end of March, 207 Palestinian children were imprisoned by Israel.

“What can I say, when they take your son from the house and he hasn’t done anything wrong, and all you want is for him to suceed in life, you just feel terrible,” Ms. Portocarrero said.

I hope to stay in touch with the family to find out what happens next.

Bahrain court delays case in hunger striker appeal

MANAMA, Bahrain  — A Bahrain court heard appeals Monday from defense lawyers for a jailed hunger striker and other activists seeking to overturn their sentences linked to the Shiite-led uprising against the Gulf kingdom's Sunni monarchy.

The court set the next hearing for April 30 amid claims by the family of hunger striker Abdulhadi al-Khawaja that his health is in sharp decline nearly 11 weeks into his protest. Bahrain officials insist al-Khawaja faces no immediate medical risks.

Al-Khawaja's case has become a centerpiece of anti-government protests while adding to international pressure on Bahrain's rulers. Earlier this month, Bahrain rejected Denmark's request to take custody of al-Khawaja, who is also a Danish citizen.

"We consider the situation to be very, very serious," Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal said in a Danish television interview. "We think we're talking about days during which action must be taken if anything has to be achieved in this case."

Al-Khawaja and seven other Shiite activists were sentenced to life in prison last year. The convictions were part of Bahrain's crackdowns during the more than 14-month-old uprising by the country's Shiite majority, which seeks to reduce the wide-ranging powers of the ruling Sunni dynasty.
Thirteen other political figures were sentenced — some in absentia — to lesser prison terms and also are part of the appeal.

Neither al-Khawaja nor any of the other defendants were present at the hearing, which was held under tight security.

Rights organizations criticized the Bahrain court's decision to postpone al-Khawaja's appeal despite international calls for speeding up the judicial process. A statement from the Ireland-based Front Line Defenders said al-Khawaja was again "denied justice."

Al-Khawaja's daughter, Maryam, told the Danish TV2 channel that doctors predict her father "has two or three days left from today," not long enough to make it to the April 30 hearing date.
She also called on the European Union to step up pressures on the Bahraini government.

"Statements are not making a difference anymore," she said. "We need to see real actions against the Bahrani regime for all the human rights violations that are being committed."

At least 50 people have been killed since February 2011 in the unrest in the strategic island nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Opposition groups claim the most recent fatality came during weekend clashes ahead of Sunday's Formula One Grand Prix, which was canceled last year because of concerns over security. Bahraini authorities promised an investigation into the death of 36-year-old Salah Abbas Habib Musa. But photos of the body show injuries that could be caused by buckshot, which is used by riot police.
Thousands of mourners joined the funeral procession Monday chanting anti-government slogans. Security forces fired tear gas after some protest groups broke away from the funeral to confront police.

Al-Khawaja, 52, is the Front Line Defenders' former Middle East and North Africa director. He has also documented human rights abuses in Bahrain for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Al-Khawaja is married and has four daughters. He had lived in exile for decades. He returned to Bahrain after the government announced a general amnesty in 2001.
Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.

Palestinian detainees’ empty stomachs are stronger than their jailers

April 22, 2012 by Shahd Abusalama Electronic Intifada

Khader Adnan took the heavy weight of 320 prisoners held in Israeli administrative detention — without charge or trial — on his shoulders. He went on hunger strike for a record 66 days to protest this unjust policy.

His battle of an empty stomach wasn’t only a reminder to free souls around the world that we are real people who deserve free and dignified lives, but also a message to those who share his suffering and injustice that they have a weapon stronger than the jailers’ arms: determination. Hana al-Shalabi followed in his steps and starved herself for 44 days. After confronting Israel’s inhumane policies, Khader and Hana have become symbols of defiance and sources of inspiration and strength for our political prisoners to continue resisting injustice.

The mother of the detainees Bilal and Azzam Diab holding Bilal’s picture who is on hunger strike for 55 days
(Mohamoud Mattar)
More heroes have arisen behind bars. Bilal Diab, a 27-year-old man from Jenin, is one of them. In 2003, he was imprisoned for 80 months.

After completing his sentence, he was re-arrested aggressively after midnight less than a year after his release, causing panic among neighbors. Then he received an administrative detention order for six months on 25 August 2011, based on “secret information” which neither Bilal nor his lawyer were permitted to see, leaving him no other lawful means to defend himself.

According to his detention order, he was supposed to be released on 25 February. But it was renewed, leading Bilal to rebel and defend himself by launching an open-ended hunger strike. Azzam Diab, Bilal’s brother who was sentenced to life, is on the 23rd day of his hunger strike in solidarity with his brother Bilal. It is hard to imagine how their mother manages to remain strong while two of her sons are inside Israel’s prisons. Both are dying to live.

Thaer Halahla, 34-years-old, from Hrsan, near Hebron, is another hunger striker who joined Bilal on the same day, 29 February, to protest the renewal of an administrative detention order against him. Thaer was re-arrested after two weeks of his marriage. He had previously been held under administrative detention four times. His imprisonment forced him to leave his pregnant wife and baby girl behind. His 22-month-old daughter was born while he was in prison, and she has never had a chance to meet her father. At the beginning of January 2012, his administrative detention order was extended a third consecutive time for an additional six months. Desperate to be free, re-unite with his family, and hug his daughter for the first time, he has been on hunger strike 55 days so far.
Addameer, the prisoners’ rights organization, reported that on 21 March, Bilal and Thaer were transferred to the medical center in Ramle prison after their health began to deteriorate. Both are currently being held in isolated cells, suffer from medical neglect under difficult conditions.  Thaer’s lawyer stated that he saw him vomiting blood from his nose and mouth and that he has difficulty speaking. As for Bilal, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) noted that “after losing consciousness a number of times, Mr Diab was hospitalized twice at Assaf Harofeh Hospital, but was subsequently returned to [Ramle prison medical center].”

Eight other prisoners have reached dangerous stages of their hunger strikes, including Haddan Safadi (49 days), Omar Abu Shalal (47 days), Jaafar Azzedine (32 days), and Ahmad Saqer, the longest-held administrative detainee (36 days). Resistance against the administrative detention policy inside prisons has also taken other forms. Mohammed Suleiman, a thalassemia patient, is refusing medical treatment to protest an administrative detention order that has been renewed three times. He also refuses to take blood tests.

Three other administrative detainees have also been moved to Ramle prison medical center: Hassan Safadi, Omar Abu Shalal and Jaafar Azzedine, on their 45th, 43rd, and 28th days of hunger strike respectively. Ahmad Saqer, the longest-held current administrative detainee, is on the 32nd day of his hunger strike.

On Prisoners’ Day (17 April) Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons launched a mass hunger strike after a wave of individual hunger strikes over the past few months. This collective hunger strike follows the 22-day campaign of disobedience and mass hunger strike, launched at the end of September 2011 to protest cruel conditions and an escalating series of punitive measures against Palestinian prisoners such as solitary confinement, a ban on visits from family and lawyers, and confiscations of prisoners’ possessions. The Israeli Prison Service promised to meet prisoners’ demands within three months if they ended their hunger strike. Six months have passed without any change. So prisoners have re-launched their hunger strikes to demand their most basic rights.

Loai Odeh is on the very left during a family visit
(Loai Odeh)
A striker’s diary

Loai Odeh, a former prisoner and my best friend, whom I am very proud to have met after his release, joined that campaign of disobedience until the prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas on 18 October. Then he was released, and expelled from Jerusalem to Gaza after 10 years of imprisonment. Since his release, the prisoners he left behind have been his main concern. He always attends events in solidarity with them. He has been my main resource every time I had a question or needed to enrich my knowledge about prisoners’ conditions.

While following his posts on Facebook, I noticed that he had written new ”status” updates taking the form of a striker’s diaries while recalling his experience. This surprised me, as it has seldom happened since he opened his account. The diary of the fourth day was the most touching and important for everyone to read, so I want to share it in the hope that it will encourage readers to act.

Today is the fourth day of challenge and championship,” Loai wrote. “Today, silence begins to spread all over. By now, the striker tends to be silent and stop talking. All the voices around him seem loud. He becomes unable to join their discussions. As days pass, his ability to hear voices shrinks, expect for these which lift the spirit up and strengthens souls and hearts.  These voices are mainly the ones that bring news about popular support for their battle. This news becomes the source of energy, the strongest motivation for them to remain steadfast.”

Israel’s attempts to demoralize prisoners and break their strikes

Discussing the typical response to hunger strikes from the Israeli Prison Service, he stated, “Our enemy is fully aware of that. Israel spells its fascist generosity against our heroes. They set up speakers and raise the volume to its loudest, constantly playing Hebrew music and news that will depress their spirits. They also distribute special news about them, like claims about the declining number of hunger strikers and names of those who have broken their fasts. They also do their best to give hunger strikers the impression that life outside is moving on normally and no one there cares about them.

However, all these inhumane attempts fail once a prisoner returns from a visit with his lawyer to tell them about popular events held locally and internationally to support them and their just cause, ” he said. “So don’t ever underestimate any activity you do, as they have small, smuggled radios with which they follow the news. Even children’s protests increase their inner determination to achieve their goals, as they feel that their responsibilities have broadened to include children, the future generation, who have spiritually joined their battle.”

He ended by saying, “We have faith in your ability to win and we are with you until victory!”

Monday, April 23, 2012

'Hunger strike a signal to world's oppressed'

Khader Adnan recounts his 66-day fast in Israeli jail that has made him a symbol of Palestinian resistance.
21 Apr 2012Linah Alsaafin Al Jazeera

Adnan's 66-day hunger strike inspired others in Israeli prison to do the same [EPA]
When Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan called his mother at 11:30pm on Tuesday night, she burst into tears. "He told me, 'Mother I am on my way home,'" she said. “For the first time in months my heart was at ease again." For Palestinians, Khader Adnan has become a symbol of resistance and steadfastness, or sumoud, after he waged a 66-day hunger strike against the Israeli prison service. He began his hunger strike immediately after his violent arrest by Israeli soldiers on December 17, 2011. He was detained under what Israel calls "administrative detention", a policy adopted from the era of the British mandate. Under administrative detention, Israel can detain a prisoner for up to six months, renewable indefinitely, without ever charging the prisoner or presenting any evidence against them.

There are currently more than 4,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, over 300 of those, in administrative detention. Adnan’s hunger strike, which eventually attracted international media attention and solidarity from around the world, inspired other administrative detainees to go on hunger strike. Hana Shalabi went on strike for 43 days before she was released and deported from her village in the West Bank to Gaza. Five others are now in the Ramleh prison hospital, including Bilal Thiab and Thaer Halahleh, who have not eaten for 52 days. After more than two months without food, Adnan’s lawyer brokered a deal in February with Israeli officials that saw him released on April 17. Coincidentally, that is the same day Palestinians commemorate Prisoners Day, which was marked this year by the open-ended hunger strike of 1,600 prisoners.

Sahar Francis, director of the Ramallah-based rights group Addameer, saw Adnan's hunger strike as a catalyst for this current mass hunger strike movement. "I definitely think the successful hunger strike of Khader Adnan and his release was a main feature in inspiring the 1,600 prisoners to carry out this act now, which is a continuation of what they began in September 2011," he says. "It should be noted that a successful hunger strike depends a lot on internal support, international pressure from the EU and UN, and the policy of the Israeli prison authorities."

Khader Adnan, who was was reunited with his family just before midnight on Tuesday, after visiting the families of the prisoners in Arrabeh, seven of whom are serving life sentences, later spoke to Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera: You've undergone the most difficult experience of your life and have been separated for months from your family. Why did you first stop by the families of other prisoners before seeing your own, and how does it feel to be free again?

Khader Adnan: Every day we live through Prisoners’ Day and its special symbolism. I went to see the families of those imprisoned before seeing my own family as a token of appreciation for their support during my imprisonment and their enduring anguish at having loved ones behind the bars of the Israeli occupation.

My freedom is incomplete because of the prisoners who I've left behind. We salute all of the prisoners; Lina Jarbouni [the longest serving female prisoner], Sheikh Ahmad Hajj [the oldest prisoner on hunger strike], Omar Abu Shalalah, Jaafar Ezzedine, Hassan Safadi, and of course Thaer Halaleh and Bilal Thiab.

I was received by Bilal Thiab's mother in [the nearby village of] Kufr RaI and relayed to her his message of endurance and commitment to his hunger strike.

After 66 days of refusing food, you spent 53 days recuperating. Did the treatment at the hands of the Israeli officers during your imprisonment improve after you ended your hunger strike?

No, not at all. Up until the last day in the prison hospital they would embark on ways to humiliate me, such as opening the door to stare at me whenever I would use the bathroom or shower.

When I was hunger striking, they would purposely eat and drink in front of me. They would insult me, call me a dog. One told me that they still haven't done anything to me yet. Their manners are so unscrupulous.

They tried to provoke me by repeating that my wife was unfaithful to me, and that my daughters were not mine. What else could they do? They banned the media from covering my case, proof that they are afraid of the truth.

Even after I ended my hunger strike, as I was being transferred from the hospital in Safad to Ramleh, they did so in a way so that no one could see me.

They kidnapped me and pushed me through an inner garage. My appeal was held in the hospital cafeteria! Is Israel that afraid of showing its true face to the world?

How did you manage to find the resilience and strength in continuing your hunger strike, especially after the three times your family visited you?

[Hurried laugh] I don't know how I did it. All strength comes from God, and when I began my hunger strike I knew that it would be until freedom or death … sometimes I am puzzled myself!

Israel granted permission for my family to see me not out of the goodness of their own hearts, but because they thought that the sight of my family would be enough to pressure me into eating again. It achieved the opposite effect, and I was further inspired to challenge my jailers.

I've spent many sleepless nights from the pain my body was going through. However, my family's happiness, my people's happiness, and the free people's happiness all over the world made me forget that I've ever experienced pain throughout my hunger strike.

Sixteen hundred Palestinian prisoners are on their third day of an open-ended hunger strike in Israeli jails demanding improved living conditions, including the right to family visits and the right to receive family photographs. Will this tactic succeed in translating a popular resistance movement outside of the prison walls amongst Palestinians?

My stance will always be with the prisoners, whether next to them, behind them, or in front of them. From the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to the '48 territories and the exile, every Palestinian is obliged to stand united.

We are all the children of the same cause, and one people living under the same occupation. I saw so much support from our family in 1948 Palestine, from the Palestinian doctors and nurses, the Palestinians in Haifa, the school girls from Nazareth who wrote an assignment on me … I will never forget their love.
The mass hunger strike is a signal to all oppressed and vulnerable people everywhere, not just Palestinians. It's a message to everyone suffering from injustice, under the boot of oppression. This method will be successful, God willing, and will achieve the rights of the prisoners.

I ask God to move the consciences of the free people around the world. I thank them all, especially Ireland, for they have stood by my hunger strike. I ask them to stand in solidarity with all the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in the past, present and future, with our tortured and oppressed people who live under the injustice of occupation day and night.

As the Palestinian prisoner to go on the longest hunger strike and survive, how does it feel becoming a symbol not just for Palestinian steadfastness but for resistance among other oppressed people?

During my days in the [Meir Ziv] hospital in Safad, occupied pre-partition Palestine, I was reminded of the holiness and the glory of this land. Being close to the resisting countries of Lebanon and Syria all gave me further incentive to defy the Israeli prison authorities, which I don't recognise.

I have barely presented anything worth of value to the Palestinian cause. I work at a bakery and sell zaatar, and will continue to do so to remind every Palestinian that their roots are deeply entrenched in this land, among the olive trees and the zaatar.

A Dangerous Mind?

April 21, 2012 By ANDREW F. MARCH New York Times

LATE last year, a jury in Boston convicted Tarek Mehanna, a 29-year-old pharmacist born in Pittsburgh, of material support for terrorism, conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to kill in a foreign country, after a 35-day trial in which I testified as an expert witness for the defense.

WHDH-TV, via Associated Press
A video image of Tarek Mehanna outside federal court in Boston in 2009.
On April 12, Mr. Mehanna was sentenced to 17 and a half years in prison. Hearing this, most Americans would probably assume that the F.B.I. caught a major homegrown terrorist and that 17 and a half years is reasonable punishment for someone plotting to engage in terrorism. The details, however, reveal this to be one of the most important free speech cases we have seen since Brandenburg v. Ohio in 1969. 

As a political scientist specializing in Islamic law and war, I frequently read, store, share and translate texts and videos by jihadi groups. As a political philosopher, I debate the ethics of killing. As a citizen, I express views, thoughts and emotions about killing to other citizens. As a human being, I sometimes feel joy (I am ashamed to admit) at the suffering of some humans and anger at the suffering of others. 

At Mr. Mehanna’s trial, I saw how those same actions can constitute federal crimes.
Because Mr. Mehanna’s conviction was based largely on things he said, wrote and translated. Yet that speech was not prosecuted according to the Brandenburg standard of incitement to “imminent lawless action” but according to the much more troubling standard of having the intent to support a foreign terrorist organization. 

Mr. Mehanna was convicted and sentenced based on two broad sets of facts. First, in 2004, Mr. Mehanna traveled with a friend to Yemen for a week, in search, the government said, of a jihadi training camp from which they would then proceed to Iraq to fight American nationals. The trip was a complete bust, and Mr. Mehanna returned home. 

Some of his friends continued to look for ways to join foreign conflicts. One even fought in Somalia. But Mr. Mehanna stayed home, completed a doctorate in pharmacology and practiced and taught in the Boston area. But the Yemen trip and the actions of his friends were only one part of the government’s case. 

For the government, Mr. Mehanna’s delivery of “material support” consisted not in his failed effort to join jihadi groups he never found, nor in financial contributions he never made to friends trying to join such groups, but in advocating the jihadi cause from his home in Sudbury. 

MR. MEHANNA’S crimes were speech crimes, even thought crimes. The kinds of speech that the government successfully criminalized were not about coordinating acts of terror or giving directions on how to carry out violent acts. The speech for which Mr. Mehanna was convicted involved the religious and political advocacy of certain causes beyond American shores. 

The government’s indictment of Mr. Mehanna lists the following acts, among others, as furthering a criminal conspiracy: “watched jihadi videos,” “discussed efforts to create like-minded youth,” “discussed” the “religious justification” for certain violent acts like suicide bombings, “created and/or translated, accepted credit for authoring and distributed text, videos and other media to inspire others to engage in violent jihad,” “sought out online Internet links to tribute videos,” and spoke of “admiration and love for Usama bin Laden.” It is important to appreciate that those acts were not used by the government to demonstrate the intent or mental state behind some other crime in the way racist speech is used to prove that a violent act was a hate crime. They were the crime, because the conspiracy was to support Al Qaeda by advocating for it through speech. 

Much of Mr. Mehanna’s speech on Web sites and in IM chats was brutal, disgusting and unambiguously supportive of Islamic insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. In one harrowing IM chat, which the government brought up repeatedly during the trial, he referred to the mutilation of the remains of American soldiers in response to the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl as “Texas BBQ.” He wrote poetry in praise of martyrdom. But is the government right that such speech, however repulsive, can be criminalized as material support for terrorism? 

In the 2010 Supreme Court decision Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. declared that for speech to qualify as criminal material support, it has to take the form of expert advice or assistance conveyed in coordination with or under the control of a designated foreign terrorist organization. In that decision, Justice Roberts reaffirmed that “under the material-support statute, plaintiffs may say anything they wish on any topic” and pointed out that “Congress has not sought to suppress ideas or opinions in the form of ‘pure political speech.’ ” Justice Roberts emphasized that he wanted to “in no way suggest that a regulation of independent speech would pass constitutional muster, even if the Government were to show that such speech benefits foreign terrorist organizations.” 

The government’s case against Mr. Mehanna, however, did not rest on proving that his translations were done in coordination with Al Qaeda. Citing no explicit coordination with or direction by a foreign terrorist organization, the government’s case rested primarily on Mr. Mehanna’s intent in saying the things he said — his political and religious thoughts, feelings and viewpoints.
The prosecution’s strategy, a far cry from Justice Roberts’s statement that “independent advocacy” of a terror group’s ideology, aims or methods is not a crime, produced many ominous ideas. For example, in his opening statement to the jury one prosecutor suggested that “it’s not illegal to watch something on the television. It is illegal, however, to watch something in order to cultivate your desire, your ideology.” In other words, viewing perfectly legal material can become a crime with nothing other than a change of heart. When it comes to prosecuting speech as support for terrorism, it’s the thought that counts. 

That is all troubling enough, but it gets worse. Not only has the government prosecuted a citizen for “independent advocacy” of a terror group, but it has prosecuted a citizen who actively argued against much of what most Americans mean when they talk about terrorism. 

On a Web site that the government made central to the conspiracy charge, Mr. Mehanna angrily contested the common jihadi argument that American civilians are legitimate targets because they democratically endorse their government’s wars and pay taxes that support these wars.
Mr. Mehanna viewed Muslim attacks on foreign occupying militaries as justified but rejected the Qaeda doctrine that the civilian citizens of a foreign country at war with Muslims can be targeted. His doctrine was that “those who fight Muslims may be fought, not those who have the same nationality as those who fight.” 

The centerpiece of the government’s case against Mr. Mehanna’s speech activities was a translation of a text titled “39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad.” The government described this text, written by a late pro-jihad Saudi religious scholar, as a “training manual for terrorism.” It is nothing of the sort. It is a fairly routine exercise of Islamic jurisprudence explaining to pious Muslims how they can discharge what many of them believe to be a duty to contribute to wars of self-defense.
This text does explain that in Islamic law a Muslim may “go for jihad” or “collect funds for the mujahidin.” But it also explains that, in place of fighting or sending money, a Muslim can assuage his conscience and take care of widows and children, praise fighters, pray for fighters, become physically fit, learn first aid, learn the Islamic rules of war, have feelings of enmity for one’s enemies, spread news about captives and abandon luxury. 

The act of translating this text is far from incitement to violent action. The text in fact shows Muslims numerous ways to help fellow Muslims suffering in their own lands, without engaging in violence. Instead of this common-sense reading, however, the government did something extraordinary. It used this text of Islamic law to help define for us what should count as a violation of our own material support law. 

Everything Mr. Mehanna did, from hiking to praying, was given a number in the indictment based on this text as an act of material support for jihad. For example, his online discussion with a friend about working out and exercising should, in the government’s words, be “placed next to the directives in 39 Ways (Step 25: ‘Become Physically Fit’).” Federal prosecutors, in effect, used a Saudi religious scholar to tell us what our “material support” statute means. 

The Mehanna case presented an excruciating line-drawing exercise. How pro-Al Qaeda is too pro-Al Qaeda, legally speaking? 

We have the resources to prevent acts of violence without threatening the First Amendment. The Mehanna prosecution is a frightening and unnecessary attempt to expand the kinds of religious and political speech that the government can criminalize. The First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston should at least invalidate Mr. Mehanna’s conviction for speech and reaffirm the Supreme Court’s doctrines in Brandenburg and Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project. Otherwise, the difference between what I do every day and what Mr. Mehanna did is about the differences between the thoughts in our heads and the feelings in our hearts, and I don’t trust prosecutors with that jurisdiction.