December 15, 2015 – New York City, NY
In the middle of her speech at the National Immigrant Integration Conference, Hillary Clinton was interrupted by several supporters of detainees who launched a hunger strike on Thanksgiving day with signs asking, “Do You Stand With Us?” and “People Are Starving for their Freedom.” In recent weeks, the candidate has come under fire for not speaking directly to the question of the strikers’ indefinite detention. A protest outside her office spurred both Sanders and O’Malley to cast their support to the strikers but Clinton’s campaign, despite representative Lorella Praelli listening to former strikers’ testimony during their protest outside.
Fahd Ahmed, director of DRUM – Desis Rising Up and Moving, says, “Future promises don’t speak to current crises. Allies respond to cries for help and denounce abuse when its exposed and so far Clinton has done neither. We want her and every official to do their part to see to the end of torture in detention, the freedom of the hunger strikers, and the halt of their deportations.”
Started by 110 detainees and expanded to 150, 20 are continuing the strike at Krome, South Texas, and Aurora facilities at last count. Last week, supporters rallied at ICE as court documents exposed authorized force feeding of strikers and detainees reported ICE using torture tactics of sleep deprivation to try to break their whistleblowing.
On Monday morning, 6 inmates at the Yuba County Jail also launched a hunger strike in solidarity with and joining the #freedomgiving strikes. While one of the strikers is a well-known immigrant detainee, Rajeshree Roy, the remaining 5 women are in general county custody, indicating the commonality of crisis in prisons and immigrant detention centers.
The women launching the hunger strike issued the following statement, “We are locked up together and refuse to be divided into immigrants and citizens. None of us belong in this cage separated from our families. We join the brave immigrant hunger strikers across the country in fasting to force recognition of our humanity.”
More details and background on the #Freedomgiving hunger strike available here:
Adelanto and Etowah Detainees End Strike as #Freedomgiving Detainees Demand Release and Halt to Removal
December 10, 2015
For the past two weeks, people seeking safety in the US who ICE has kept detained for up to two years have refused meals as part of the #freedomgiving hunger strike in seven different detention centers.
Started by 110 detainees and expanded to 150, 39 are continuing the strike at Krome, South Texas, and Aurora facilities at last count. Read more
In a rare occurrence, Sen. Bernie Sanders sat down publicly with undocumented immigrants to hear their concerns and discuss his Family First immigration platform.
During the discussion, a back and forth occurred between Jahed Ahmed, an asylum-seeker from Bangladesh who saw his friend killed in front of him because of their political involvement and who was part of hunger strikes that are facing increased retaliation as we speak. Read more
As Situation Escalates, Former Hunger Striker to Appear on Sanders Livestream Event at 3:00pm [watch here]
#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. Read more
Reports of Solitary Confinement and Medical Abuse Raise Concerns for Detainees’ Safety in Custody
November 30, 2015
Today three additional centers join what has become known as the #freedomgiving hunger strikes. On the eve of Thanksgiving, 110+ men who came to the US seeking safety but instead have been held in detention for seven months to up to two years refused their meals and demanded their freedom at the Etowah, Theo Lacy, and Otay detention centers. Read more
More than 110 Asylum-seekers on Hunger Strike Across Three Facilities
After Months in Indefinite Detention
To: ICE Director Sarah Saldaña
I am writing in support of immigrant detainees on hunger strike in multiple ICE facilities around the U.S. Instead of punishment and retaliation, ICE should immediately release them and investigate the conditions that caused their whistleblowing activity.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, more than 100 men fleeing political violence and danger in their home countries who have been in detention for up to two years announced their rejection of meals and demand for their freedom.
One letter from a hunger striker from Bangladesh pleads, “Whenever I calling to my family they saying ‘we are always thinking of you then they starting to cry… I spent many months to come America for ask in this country help… but for my bad luck I loose everything… Please understanding my suffering words from your kind heart.”
In multiple cases, detainees continue to be held despite either passing their credible fear for asylum or their consulates refusing to issue their travel documents for removal.
Fahd Ahmed, director of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) in New York and a primary supporter of the strikers, explains, “ICE is keeping these people in indefinite detention when they should be released. They came to this country seeking safety and instead have been placed behind bars to fill a detention bed quota for years at a time.”
Shahidul Islam, one of the hunger strikers in Theo Lacy Facility escaped Bangladesh after people affiliated with the ruling Awawi League threatened him and his father at gunpoint. The incident caused Shahidul’s father to have a fatal stroke on the spot. Before the confrontation, Shahidul had been arrested multiple times for his participation in the Bangladesh National Party, a mainstream opposition party in his home country.
At a moment when many people in the US will be gathering with their families and loved ones over meals, these detainees will be on hunger strike demanding to be united with their families and communities here.
The detainees in Theo Lacey, Otay, and Etowah Detention Centers issued the following demands:
1. End to all detentions and deportations
2. End to the ICE detention bed quotas
3. End to indefinite detention: Release on Parole or Supervision for all asylum seekers held for more than 6 months
4. Improved conditions in detention (discipline, food, clothing, access to phones, medical access)
Mahbubur, an asylum-seeker held in Etowah, Alabama, explains that some detainees have attempted suicide because of their treatment in custody and out of fear of being returned to persecution, “Not only in Alabama, many Bangladeshis are also passing miserable days in other detention centers across America. They came to the United States with a hope to get asylum, but as their asylum applications have been denied and they are under order of deportation, in that case if they are deported to Bangladesh the present government will persecute them accusing them of creating unrest or vandalism by bringing false charges against them. Many of us even attempted to commit suicide for fearing of the government retribution if deported. We appeal to the Department of Homeland Security and the government of the United Stated of America to consider our case on humanitarian ground and free us from this miserable detention. We want to live a honorable life and we would like to inform our families back home that we are in good condition in America.”
NotOneMoreDeportation.com is a campaign made of individuals, organizations, artists, and allies to expose, confront, and overcome unjust immigration laws.
As the immigration debate continues, #Not1More enters the discussion from the place that touches people in concrete ways and can offer tangible relief. By collectively challenging unfair deportations and unjust policy through organizing, art, legislation, and action, we aim to reverse criminalization, build migrant power, and create immigration policies based on principles of inclusion.
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