Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace
April 23, 2008
VIRIGINA– Earlier today, Dr. Sami Al-Arian, who is on the 52nd day of a hunger strike to protest government harassment, began to take a liquid nutritional supplement. Dr. Al Arian’s health has deteriorated rapidly since he began the fast on March 3. He drank no water for the first 18 days and has lost more than 40 pounds. He has not received proper treatment or medical care at Hampton Roads Regional Jail, where he is being held.
At 11 a.m. on Monday morning, Dr. Al-Arian collapsed and lost consciousness for a few minutes. A doctor who examined him ordered the jail to give him more fluids, and tried to convince Dr. Al-Arian to take supplemental nutrients. Later, an official with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement met with Dr. Al-Arian. The official promised Dr. Al-Arian that he would be moved to a different facility later this week.
After thousands of supporters and people of conscience called Hampton Roads Regional Jail last week, Dr. Al-Arian’s conditions improved – slightly. His clothes and blankets were returned to him and he was able to receive ONE visit from family members. However, during that visit, which took place behind a glass partition, Dr. Al-Arian’s hands were shackled. He remains on suicide watch in the segregation unit at the prison, on 24-hour lockdown in a windowless prison cell. The bright lights in the cell are constantly on, including throughout the night. He is allowed to shower only twice a week and is handcuffed every time he leaves his cell. He is not able to estimate the Muslim prayer times because he has no access to a watch or clock.
Dr. Al-Arian, who has experienced dizzy spells, blurred eyesight and fatigue, also began taking the liquid supplement at the urging of his family, who would like him to regain his strength to be able to travel in the event that he is deported expeditiously and allowed to finally rejoin them, as the government has promised.
Though Dr. Al-Arian was transferred into ICE custody on April 11, following the completion of his sentence, there is no indication that the government will release him. TBCJP urges the U.S. government not to bring new charges against Dr. Al-Arian, a decision that would appear vindictive and underhanded.
The next week is an especially critical time for people of conscience to speak out against the continued attempts to increase Dr. Al-Arian’s imprisonment.
1- Contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and ask:
(1) that Dr. Al-Arian immediately be moved to another facility where he will be treated with dignity and respect, and
(2) that the U.S. government honor its promise to Dr. Al-Arian to release and deport him immediately.
Vincent Archibeque, Acting Field Office Director of ICE
2675 Prosperity Avenue
Fairfax, VA 22031
Area of Responsibility: District of Columbia and Virginia
2-Contact the Department of Justice and ask prosecutors to honor their 2006 plea agreement with Dr. Al-Arian that promised his release and deportation:
Attorney General Michael Mukasey
Department of Justice
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Fax Number: (202) 307-6777
E-mails to the Department of Justice, including the Attorney General,
may be sent to AskDOJ@usdoj.gov