#Freedomgiving Hunger Strike in Detention Reaches 10th Day, ICE Urged to Release Participants
The day after protests prompted comment from all three democratic presidential candidates with Sanders and O’Malley issuing support, an ICE supervisor visited the 37 asylum-seekers who started the #freedomgiving hunger strike. The meeting led to the detainees temporarily ending their strike under the agreement that anyone waiting for travel documents will be released within two weeks and ICE will honor its protocol, releasing all pending cases on parole.
At the Etowah detention center, officials took the opposite approach, defying its public statements of concern by punishing participants, placing Mahbubur Rahman, Kamruzzaman Rasel, Lavu Khan, and two others in solitary confinement.
While at the other centers the hunger strike continues including Sohel Khalashi at the Otay center in San Diego, who was rushed to medical care due to stomach pains and then underwent heart surgery. Upon return, he continued refusing meals stating in a phone call,
“When I started the hunger strike. On the third day of hunger strike, I had stomach pain and ICE brought me to medical and conducted a heart operation.
Since then, they have locked me in separate room. I still did not eat yet. Maybe I will die. I have no words to explain my condition. ICE came today and I told them to release me or I will die here.
I got my parole but they cancel my parole. The judge cancelled my parole. They labeled me a terrorist. They have no basis to label me terrorist. But I have proof that I am not, but they won’t listen to me. When I was in Bangladesh I was part of BNP (Bangladesh National Party). If I go back I will killed. So if they don’t release me, I will die here.”
Now reaching 10 days without food and enduring intimidation by authorities, concerns over hunger strike participants’ health and safety are rising. Fahd Ahmed, director of DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving and principal support for the strikers, comments, “We are concerned for the health and safety of the hunger strikers, most of whom have refused food for ten days. With an agreement reached at the Theo Lacy facility, ICE should release all the whistleblowing detainees and an investigation into the cruelty and negligence they have experienced should be launched immediately.”
A timeline of the recent wave of strikes is below:
- October 14: 54 South Asian detainees from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan detained at the El Paso Processing /Detention Center started a hunger strike at breakfast time #ElPaso54
- October 18th: 14 Detainees from India and Bangladesh launch a hunger strike in Lasalle Detention Center #LaSalle14
- October 28th: 27 women from El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Brazil and Europe detained in the T.Don Hutto Detention center began a hunger strike, the number soon grew to almost 500 women.. #Hutto27
- October 30th: 20 men predominantly from Central America, started a hunger strike in the West Facility of Adelanto, California, the number soon grew to 300. #Adelanto20
- November 4th: 90 men from the East Facility in Adelanto, California went on hunger strike, threats and retaliation reduced the number to 26 men from Ghana, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. #AdelantoHungerStrike
- November 25th: 48 in Etowah, 37 in Theo Lacy, and 26 in Otay Mesa launch the #freedomgiving hunger strikes at dinner demanding their freedom.
- November 30th: 13 in Aurora, 9 in Adelanto, and 17 in South Texas (8 of whom who had already been striking for seven days) join with the #freedomgiving strike.
- December 3: Presidential Candidates issue statements after protest at Clinton Campaign headquarters with Sanders pledging support and O’Malley calling for an end to detention.
- December 4:
- Theo Lacy detainees suspend hunger strike after negotiating release during an ICE supervisor visit.
- 5 Etowah detainees placed in solitary confinement
- Hunger Striker Sohel Khalashi at Otay continues refusing meals even after emergency surgery.
- Intimidation and Aurora facility breaks and then restarts hunger strike.