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News ::
Palestinian activist Jaoudat Abouazza illegally detained and brutalized in Bosto
19 Jun 2002
Modified: 20 Jun 2002
Support Palestinian activist Jaoudat Abouazza -
illegally detained and brutalized in Boston


Support Palestinian activist Jaoudat Abouazza -
illegally detained and brutalized in Boston


By the Jaoudat Abouazza Defense Committee
June 17, 2002 - Boston

On Sunday June 16, two members of the Jaoudat Abouazza
Defense Committee were able to visit Abouazza in INS
custody in the Bristol County Correctional Facility in
North Dartmouth, Mass. They learned that at 10:00 AM
that morning, prison guards forcibly took Abouazza
from his cell and restrained him in a chair while a
man with a surgical mask on forced open his mouth and
pulled 4 teeth. A broken piece of a tooth was left in
his mouth, leaving Abouazza in much physical pain,
swollen, bleeding and unable to eat.

This brutality followed a week in which prison guards
engaged in other forms of brutality against Abouazza,
including punching, solitary confinement, threats and
continuous epithets of "Taliban" toward him. On
Sunday, June 9, FBI agents attempted to interrogate
Abouazza regarding a defense committee leaflet. When
Abouazza refused their interrogation, they threw him
into an isolation cell, telling him they could keep
him there as long as they wanted.

On the morning of Monday, June 17 -- the day after his
teeth were extracted -- Bristol prison officials
demanded Abouazza sign a form in English that he could
not understand. Guards once again threw Abouazza into
solitary confinement for requesting review of the
document by his lawyer before signing.


On the evening of May 30, Abouazza was stopped by the
Cambridge, Massachusetts police on the pretext of a
minor traffic violation. Without being charged with a
crime or read his rights by the arresting officers, he
was handcuffed and brought to the Cambridge police
station. Within hours, Abouazza would find himself in
jail being interrogated by the FBI for suspicion of

The evidence? He is Palestinian and was in possession
of leaflets calling for the legal, permitted protest
of the Israeli Independence Day Festival on June 9th
in Boston.

"The government's shameful policy of racial profiling
is now rapidly expanding to include political
profiling," said Carl Messineo, a lawyer with the
Partnership for Civil Justice and a member of the
International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End
Racism) Steering Committee. "This was always the true
goal of the attack on civil rights engineered by John
Ashcroft: to stifle dissent by trying to intimidate
people from speaking out against injustice.

"On June 29, people from around the country will
demonstrate at the FBI's Washington headquarters to
show they won't be intimidated by these tactics,"
Messineo continued. "For every one person they place
into administrative detention, as they have done to
Abouazza, there will be hundreds who will take to the
streets. It is the mass mobilization of the people
that will turn back this extremist and repressive
government program."

The government circumvented initial motions by
Abouazza's public defender for a bail hearing on the
charges of his arrest, keeping him in jail over the
weekend. This follows a pattern now familiar in the
detention of thousands of Arabs and Muslims across the
nation after September 11. During that weekend in jail
the FBI interrogated Abouazza seven times, sometimes
awakening him at 1:00 a.m. for questioning. Although
Abouazza had been appointed counsel, she was present
at none of these proceedings. By the time of his
appearance in court on the following Monday, the INS
had already filed a detainer, requiring he be held in
jail until the INS came to get him. Abouazza was moved
to an INS detention facility in the early hours of the
morning on Tuesday, June 4.

In an Ashcroftian Catch 22, at Abouazza's pre-trial
hearing on June 12, the Cambridge district judge found
him in default for failure to appear at the hearing,
after a court ordered writ of habeus corpus to secure
his transfer to the courtroom was rejected by the INS.
Abouazza was of course unable to appear, because he
remains in INS detention. The judge then found Jaoudat
in default, meaning he failed to show up for court,
and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Expanded powers of FBI domestic surveillance put into
place by Ashcroft's Justice Department in the last
week of May have made it easier to target political
dissidents. The Justice Department and the FBI have
begun a new wave of arrests, specifically targeting
Palestinian political activists. The case of a
Palestinian student organizer, Ahmed Bensouda, in
Chicago (see for more
info) and the case of Jaoudat Abouazza in Boston are
two prominent examples. Both occur in the context of
increasingly vocal criticism of Israel, and U.S.
support for Israeli policies, in which Arab and Muslim
immigrants have played a significant role. On April
20, 100,000 people marched on Washington to protest
Bush's "war on terrorism." The large presence of
Palestinian activists made itself felt across the

In Boston, Abouazza has been a leading activist in the
Palestinian struggle. His photograph appeared in the
"Boston Globe" as one of the leaders in a local march
against the Israeli occupation on April 6th that drew
2,000 activists--the largest to date in Boston. He has
participated in weekly protest vigils in front of the
Israeli Consulate. Several of those protests have come
under heavy surveillance by the Boston police &
plainclothes agents, who have repeatedly photographed
demonstrators and their license plates.

His arrest on May 30 occurred a little more than a
week before a major legally permitted protest against
the Israel Day Festival planned for June 9th in which
Abouazza had been a key organizer. Flyers for the
protest which the FBI found in his car were cited by
the prosecutor in court on May 31 as a reason to
continue holding him.

The increasing criminalization of dissent in the
United States in the aftermath of September 11th
endangers the rights of all of us, citizens and
immigrants alike. Everyone who is concerned for
fundamental human rights and civil liberties can act
now in defense of Jaoudat Abouazza.


USINS District Director Steven J. Farquharson
Room 1700, JFK Federal Building
Boston, MA 02203

with copies to:
Commissioner James W. Ziglar
Immigration and Naturalization Service
425 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20536


Jaoudat Abouazza Defense Committee
c/o International A.N.S.W.E.R.
(Act Now to Stop War and End Racism)
31 Germania Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
abouazzadefense (at)

Please also send copies of your letters to Jaoudat
himself, and write to Jaoudat, at the address below:

Jaoudat Abouazza
Bristol County Jail and House of Correction
(North Dartmouth)
400 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747
1 West
(Unit and ID number should be written on the lower
left of the envelope.)
See also:
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"Brutally detained"?
20 Jun 2002
How so? Did they nailbomb his mother and daughter?