Sunday, July 31, 2005

August 5th Fundraiser!


::PANEL on Arts & Activism in Age of Crisis::
::FUNDRAISER for two detained teenage girls::

The Brecht Forum
451 West St. (West Side Hwy betw Bank & Bethune 1-1/2 blocks
north of W. 11th)
NY, NY 10014

1,9,2,3 A,C to 14th st.
(212) 242- 4201

1.) 5pm 'Disappeared in America' Exhibition Opening
New work by Chitra Ganesh
2.) 7pm Panel Discussion: Arts and Activism in Age of Crisis
Avideh Moussavian, New York Immigrant Coalition (NICE)
Aziz Huq, NYU Brennan Center for Justice
Fariba Alam, director, BANGLA EAST SIDE
Konrad Aderer, director, LIFE OR LIBERTY, The ALAMS
Naeem Mohaiemen, VISIBLE Collective
3.) 8pm Fundraiser for Detainees: Speakers (Family members
of detainees), Multicultural Music Extravaganza
Bengali musicians from the Bangladeshi Institute of
performing Arts
Guinean musicians (Ahmadou Bah & Others)
Mor Dior Bamba of Senagal
Coumba Siddibe Shangan of Mali with Guinean accompaniment
Dawoud of Mystic JAz.
Bangla comedian Aladdin Ullah

Suggested Minimum: $10 (no one will be turned away)

Bring checkbooks if you want to make larger donations to the
fund for the detained teenagers

Friday, August 5
5 PM-11PM

5 PM:
New work by Chitra Ganesh

Exhibiting from Aug 5-Aug 30

Since 9/11, thousands of Muslim immigrants were detained in
a security dragnet. The majority of those detained were from
the invisible underclass of cities like New York. They are
the recent immigrants who drive our taxis, deliver our food,
clean our restaurant tables, and sell fruit, coffee, and
newspapers. The only time we see their faces are when we
glance at the hack license in the taxi partition, or the ID
card around the neck of a vendor.

Already invisible in our cities, after detention, they have
become "ghost prisoners." In this, there are eerie parallels
to past witch-hunts, including the 1919 detention of 10,000
immigrants after anarchists bombed the Attorney General's
home; the 1941 internment of 110,000 Japanese-Americans; the
trial and execution of the Rosenbergs; and the HUAC Black-
listing under Senator Joseph McCarthy. While our work started
in the American context, we have expanded to look at Europe,
in recognition that anti-immigrant xenophobia, coupled with
Islamophobia, is not a new or uniquely American phenomenon.

VISIBLE, is a collective of Muslim and other Artist-
Activists, that created the DISAPPEARED IN AMERICA project.
DISAPPEARED is a walk-through installation that uses film,
soundscape, images, installations and lectures to humanize
the faces of post 9/11 "disappeared" Muslims. It is also a
traveling, multimedia lecture that has been shown in
Stuttgart, London, Stockholm, Helsinki and other cities.

More information is available at


7 PM: PANEL DISCUSSION on Arts & Activism in Age of Crisis

8 PM: FUNDRAISER: America's Civil Liberties Crisis:
Respond with Music and Solidarity!

being a threat to national security:

Tashnuba Hyder (Bangladesh): detained and deported with family
Adama Bah (Guinea): detained and eventually released, all
charges dropped

Family and friends of Tashnuba & Adama talk about the case

Followed by a Multicultural Extravaganza including:
Bengali musicians from the Bangladeshi Institute of performing
Guinean musicians (Ahmadou Bah & Others)
Mor Dior Bamba of Senagal
Coumba Siddibe Shangan of Mali with Guinean accompaniment
Dawoud of Mystic JAz.
Bangla comedian Aladdin Ullah

For more info or call or 917 602 4450 All
proceeds will be divided by the two families!

If you cannot attend, but wish to make a donation, go to:

Or mail check to
Emergency Families Fund / CAIR
c/o 9-11 relief program / Adem Carroll
166-26 89th Avenue
Jamaica, NY, 11432
Donations are tax-exempt

Sponsored by
Ad Hoc Coalition for Adama & Tashnuba
Visible Collective (
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
Justice For James Yee Ad Hoc Committee

Adama Back In School

On July 25th, Nina Bernstein from The New York Times wrote an article following up on one of the two 16-year-old Muslim girls detained in the spring as "suicide bombers" with little-to-no evidence or explanation, which inspired the creation of this blog (one of the girls was deported, the other allowed to resume her American life).

Here are some excerpts from "An Art Class's Lesson in Politics."
There's below

When Adama Bah's schoolmates decided to make a public artwork project about her case last spring, she and another 16-year-old girl were being held by the federal government after it had identified them, without explanation, as potential suicide bombers.

"We didn't know if we would ever see her again," said Kimberly Lane, who was then an art teacher at the school, the Heritage School in East Harlem, where many viewed Adama's detention as unjust and incomprehensible. "This was a way for the students to use art to speak out at a time when a lot of people, including adults, were afraid to do anything."

The result towers over anything that most people would expect high school students to produce. At Columbia University's Teachers College, where the work is on display through Thursday, the director of art education, Prof. Judith M. Burton, says it reminds her of Rodin's "Burghers of Calais."

That comparison does not seem too outlandish when looking at the seven larger-than-life figures at the college's Macy Gallery, even though they are fashioned from papier mâché and wire covered with colored cloth. They stand and gesture in a dramatic ensemble, the smaller ones urgently calling for attention or trying to intervene, the larger ones looming silent, deaf and blind to the victim in their midst, who raises her arms to heaven in a plea for help.

Adama is at least two heads smaller than the seven-foot figure designed to look like her, but the similarity is unmistakable. She was released from detention in May without being charged with a crime, just in time to pose for the 12 student artists - and to witness their crisis when the project seemed too controversial for the law firm where they had expected to display it.

But nothing prepared Adama for the final result. "As soon as I walked in, I was, like, shocked," she said. "My mouth just dropped. It was beautiful."

The reasons she was held for six weeks in a Pennsylvania detention center remain a mystery, and she and her lawyer, Natasha Pierre, are still under a court order not to discuss the case. The other girl, Tashnuba Hayder, is now back in her native Bangladesh. Adama, who came to New York as a toddler from Guinea, is fighting to stay here regardless of what happens to her father, a former cabdriver who is in immigration jail facing deportation after losing political asylum, which he had won by falsely claiming to be from Mauritania.

These days, Adama acknowledges that her family is in difficult financial straits. The telephone has been shut off and her mother stays late at her trinket stand in Brooklyn, trying to earn enough to buy groceries for Adama and four younger children.

Tax exempt donations can be sent to help the families of Adama and Tashnuba at:

Emergency Families Fund / CAIR
c/o 9-11 relief program / Adem Carroll
166-26 89th Avenue
Jamaica, NY, 11432

Or you can contribute online at this link.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Related Detention Story

Hey all:

My uncle and aunt got taken away by Homeland Security last week, and have
since been locked away in a detention prison in Virginia, and I need your
help. I myself have little faith in this "contact your senators"
approach -- but we're stuck here with very very few options, and we're
using what little options we have to try to make some noise and get some
attention paid to this. Go here to send a quick and easy fax... and for
more information...

This is a disaster. Detention is a black hole - it's like talking to a
crazy person. Ask the same question 5 times (like, uh, why did you take
my aunt and uncle?) and you get 5 different answers (an airport
investigation. they are out of status. we're deporting them. we're
bringing them back in 2 hours. we have information that they're a high
security risk to the US.) In reality, they're elderly folks in their 70s
who are so law-abiding they don't even freaking jaywalk. They are
struggling with an asylum case that recently got denied (again), and
worked at Dulles airport. Those two things together apparently spell
baaad news.

Here's the site with more information and a way to fax the senators in
Virginia: We have a lawyer and are working
on media stuff, but if you have any other brilliant ideas, shoot 'em on.

There's below

Thanks to anyone who can grit their teeth and fax something to republican
senators! I'll appreciate you forever. Not that I don't already.

a very tired and upset and pissed-off Sitara

More info:
My uncle, aunt and 19-year old cousin live in Virginia, and were home
after my cousin graduated from high school on June 22. They came to the
U.S. from Afgahanistan about 7-10 years ago, and have been involved in a
long asylum attempt. They were recently denied asylum in what looks like
it might be their last appeal. On June 22, the doorbell rang, and the
police/gov't officials were outside, saying they needed to take my uncle
and aunt to question them about an investigation they're doing at the
Dulles airport (where my aunt works and my uncle used to work before his
work permit expired and wasn't renewed).

The police told my 19-year old cousin that they'd bring his parents back
that night, which of course they didn't do. Now they're in a detention
facility in West Virgina, and are now being told they're being detained
because of their immigration status. The story they're being told keeps
changing, and it's unclear what's going to happen to them, whether they'll
be deported, what will happen to my cousin (who is also in danger of being
deported, though he was not detained), if there's any intervention that we
can do.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Freedom For T.

(Apologies to all for being late to report this...)

Susanhbu at The Booman Tribune (and crossposted at Daily Kos), "One 16-year-old girl detainee "quietly" released":

"The U.S. government has dropped its cases against two 16-year-old "would-be suicide bombers," whose plight has been remarkably championed by Edkra and others.

Key: The girl from Guinea has returned to high school. The Bangladeshi girl remains in custody and faces deportation along with her parents.

Reports Democracy Now! and just a couple other news sources:

In New York a 16-year-old girl -- who the government accused of being a would-be suicide bomber -- has returned to her high school in East Harlem. Six weeks ago federal officials detained two 16-year-old girls - one from Guinea and one from Bangladesh. At the time the government claimed they were a "imminent threat to the security of the United States." ...

DN! continues:

For six weeks the government said little about their detentions despite a public outcry.

The case was cloaked in secrecy. Hearings were closed to the public. FBI comments were sealed. And attorneys were barred from disclosing government information.

But it now appears the government had no case at all and that the girls posed no threat.

The New York Times reports the government released the girl from Guinea and she returned to school on Friday.

Meanwhile the Bangladeshi girl remains in detention - but for immigration reasons, not national security. An immigration judge has ordered her and her parents to be deported.

Read the rest at BooTrib.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Press Release: FBI, Immigration Officials Ruining Mother's Day

May 6, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact: Saurav Sarkar, Media Coordinator, 516-423-1896, sauravsarkar2000 AT yahoo DOT com.

FBI, Immigration Officials Ruining Mother’s Day
Groups and Individuals Call For Public Support For Loved Ones of Teenagers

Unlike countless other mothers who will be celebrated and honored this Sunday, one Guinean mother and one Bangladeshi mother will be among hundreds of thousands who face the financial, emotional, and legal struggle to keep their families intact in the face of deportation. These two mothers’ 16-year old daughters have faced unsubstantiated claims of being “suicide bombers.” The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are misusing the immigration system to conduct what are essentially criminal investigations, thereby denying basic due process rights to these two minors like free legal assistance and access to the charges and evidence against them. The government has smeared the reputation of these two daughters—known here as “A.” and “T.” for reasons of safety and privacy—despite that an FBI official told The New York Daily News that, "Nobody here believes they are wanna-be suicide bombers." T. remains imprisoned, and both A. and T. may be forced to leave the U.S., where they have lived since infancy.

Under the leadership of Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Department of Homeland Securityis working to ensure that A. and T. are included among the almost 1.5 million immigrants whom the government has forced to leave since 1996—regardless of their family, social, and economic ties to the United States. Additionally, it appears that these two teenagers have been the subject of the same type of discrimination that has targeted so many immigrants on the basis of their religion and national origin since 9/11.. As a result, the mothers of A. and T. have mourned the many weeks their daughters have been in Berks County Prison, hundreds of miles away, where T. continues to be jailed.

Berks has been described as “too institutional and prisonlike” for unaccompanied minors by a U.S. Government official in U.S. News and World Report. “The prison lost its federal contract to care for unaccompanied immigrant minors last year, after newspaper articles and a report by Amnesty International criticized the conditions as too punitive for young asylum-seekers who entered the United States without parents,” according to the New York Times.

T.’s mother, breaking into tears, told the New York Times, "I always thought that this country is better for my children, but now...I just want my daughter. Please, can you help me?" She and her loved ones face an enormous emotional, legal, and financial challenge.

There's below on "Direct Link"
She and her husband must raise money for housing, having given up their apartment out of fear of surveillance or other threats to their safety. Food and transportation money and support for their three other children are other necessities. A.’s mother is also struggling to support herself and her other children; her husband has also jailed on immigration charges, and his income is lost. She needs to pay her daughter’s and husband’s legal fees, and there may be a need to purchase plane tickets in the future if either her husband or daughter are forced to accept “voluntary departure.” Collectively, the legal fees, housing, transportation, food, and basic needs of the two families will amount to well over $10,000 over the next few months.

This mother’s day you can help ease the pain and suffering of these two mothers, their daughters, and their families; you can send a tax-exempt donation online at or mail checks written to:

Emergency Family Fund / CAIR NYc/o 9-11 relief program / Adem Carroll, ICNA166-26 89th AvenueJamaica, NY, 11432

If you would like to direct your contribution to A and T and their families, please write that on the memo of your check. Any excess donations will be used for some of the countless other detainee families facing similar circumstances.

This call for donations is part of efforts by a group of organizations and individuals in New York, Pennsylvania, California, and other areas to bring attention to A. and T.’s situation. Included among these organizations are: Alliance of South Asians Taking Action; Blue Triangle Network; Desis Rising Up & Moving; Families For Freedom; International Socialist Organization; Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA Relief); New Immigrant Community Empowerment; New York Immigration Coalition; Not In Our Name / NYC; and Progressive Bengali Network. For more information on the work of these groups on this campaign and other actions they are undertaking to require accountability from immigration officials and the FBI, please visit"

DRUM: May 11 Vigil Cancelled Due to Behind The Scenes Legal Developments

Below is an announcement that just went from Desis Rising Up & Moving:

The vigil planned for May 11th in York, PA has been CANCELLED, as the hearing has been CANCELLED due to behind the scenes legal developments. Please get the word out!

Another update: we all collected 30 letters of support from organizations across the country, 150 letters of support from individuals, and 300 signatures (mostly youth!) on petitions. Congrats to all!

This is not likely the end of this battle...for now, we can all put our energy into raising funds for the families. You can send a tax-exempt donation online at or mail checks written to:

Emergency Family Fund / CAIR NY
c/o 9-11 relief program / Adem Carroll, ICNA
166-26 89th Avenue
Jamaica, NY, 11432

If you would like to direct your contribution to A and T and their families, please write that on the memo of your check. Any excess donations will be used for some of the countless other detainee families facing similar circumstances.

In solidarity,
DRUM--Desis Rising Up and Moving

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Excerpt from Ted Rall article

Here's an excerpt from the 4/26/05 Ted Rall article on A. and T. You can read the whole thing here.

Without a warrant, NYPD detectives and federal agents burst into the girl's home--no wonder they don't have time to look for Osama!--where they "searched her belongings and confiscated her computer and the essays that she had written as part of a home schooling program," say her family. "One essay concerned suicide...[that] asserted that suicide is against Islamic law." The family is Bangladeshi. They are Muslim. That, coupled with the mere mention of suicide bombing in her essay, was enough to put the fuzz on high alert.

Although she is conservative and devout, the girl and her parents vigorously deny that she is an Islamist extremist (not that such opinions are illegal), but this is post-9/11 America and post-9/11 America is out of its mind.

Based solely on an essay written by one of the two, the FBI says both girls are "an imminent threat to the security of the United States based upon evidence that they plan to become suicide bombers." But the feds admit that they have no evidence to back their suspicions. Nothing.

"There are doubts about these claims, and no evidence has been found that such a plot was in the works," one Bush Administration official admitted to the Times. "The arrests took place after authorities decided it would be better to lock up the girls than wait and see if they decided to become terrorists," another told the New York Post. The same logic could be used to justify locking up any Muslim, or anyone at all. Heck, maybe that's the idea...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Attention LA (and Web) Radio Listeners!

Subhash Kateel from Families For Freedom will be speaking with Michael Slate of KPFK (the Los Angeles Pacifica Affiliate) about A. and T.'s situation today and the broader context of attacks on immigrants. He's supposed to be on between 5:15 and 5:30 California time, so you may want to tune in earlier to make sure you catch him. If you're not in LA, you can listen live on the KPFK website. I'll do what I can to get some audio of it up on the Detainment Blog at some point. Here's more information about Michael Slate's and his radio show.

Update: Michael Slate was kind enough to give us permission to reproduce the interview. You can listen to it on the Indymedia website here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Vigil Update For Philadelphia Folks

For those of you who may be coming from Philadelphia to the May 11 Vigil at York, Pennsylvania, here's some contact information for your area:

SAVE THE DATE -- 5/11 -- GET ON THE BUS: As of now, the Bangladeshi woman's bond hearing is scheduled for WEDS. MAY 11th at York Courthouse. CAIR-Philadelphia office is getting a bus and mobilizing community members to support and put further pressure! Contact Adeeba at CAIR-Phila (215) 592-0509, aalzaman AT gmail DOT com to reserve seats now!