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Immigration Detainees Abused in San Pedro

by Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants Sunday, Mar. 06, 2005 at 5:33 PM
chri@itapnet.org

On March 5 at the San Pedro detention center, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent M. Lopez attacked Iranian immigration detainee Mohammed Mirmehdi, dragged him into a storage room and repeatedly punched and choked him.

Urgent Action!

March 5, 2005

Immigration Detainees Abused in San Pedro, CA

On March 5 at the San Pedro detention center near Los Angeles, California, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent M. Lopez verbally abused 44-year old Palestinian immigration detainee Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan and refused to let him go to the bathroom when he complained of severe stomach pain and fell screaming on the floor clutching his stomach. Lopez then attacked Iranian immigration detainee Mohammed Mirmehdi, dragged him into a storage room and repeatedly punched and choked him. Mr. Mirmehdi has been put in segregation. Mr. Hamdan remains extremely ill. Neither has received medical care.

Tell Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):

1) Free Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan and all four of the Mirmehdi brothers, without conditions, NOW, and provide all needed medical care while their release is being processed.

2) Remove ICE agent M. Lopez from duty immediately and carry out an investigation into his abuse of detainees.

3) Allow the media and advocates immediate access to the jail to interview Mr. Hamdan, the Mirmehdi brothers and other witnesses and to photograph Mohammed Mirmehdi's bruises.

Send your messages to:

Victor Cerda, head of ICE Detention and Removal Office in Washington, 425 I Street NW, Washington, DC 20536; phone 202-514-8663; fax 202-353-9435; email (c/o ICE Chief of Staff Shelly Han), shelly.han@dhs.gov

Gloria Kee, field operations director of ICE Detention and Removal Office in Los Angeles, 300 North Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA 90012; phone 213-830-7913 or 213-830-7970; fax 213-830-7973; email gloria.kee@dhs.gov

Send copies to Mr. Hamdan's support committee at mail@adclaoc.org and to the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants at chri@itapnet.org

At about 10:20am PST on Saturday, March 5, 2005, Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan was in the holding area at San Pedro detention center, after returning from the visiting room, when he felt ill and asked to use the bathroom. ICE agent M. Lopez refused to let Mr. Hamdan use the bathroom. When Mr. Hamdan doubled over and clutched his stomach, screaming in pain, agent Lopez did not call for medical help but instead verbally abused Mr. Hamdan and told him he should urinate on himself. Other detainees who witnessed the scene were very concerned, and detainee Mostafa Mirmehdi asked ICE agent Lopez, "What is your name, sir?" with the hopes of later reporting the incident. Lopez became enraged, and confronted Mostafa. When Mohammed Mirmehdi came and stood by his brother, Lopez attacked Mohammed, threw him against a wall and tried to choke him. When Mohammed stood up, Lopez punched him in the face and stomach repeatedly, then dragged him into a storage room--where there is no video camera--and continued to punch, choke and beat him. Lopez also sat on Mohammed's chest, pressing down with his full weight. The savage attack was witnessed by a number of detainees through the door and window of the storage room. The witnesses saw visible choke marks on Mohammed's neck and bruises on his stomach and arms before he was taken away to segregation, where he remains without medical care as of 4pm on March 5. In addition, Mr. Hamdan is still suffering from severe stomach pains and has not received medical treatment.

The assault on Mr. Hamdan and Mr. Mirmehdi comes just five days after Mr. Hamdan's supporters issued an action alert demanding his release. The action alert generated dozens of letters to ICE officials and some 400 signatures on a petition to free Mr. Hamdan, a respected community leader in Orange County, California, who has never been charged with a crime yet is being held without bond. Mr. Hamdan's health is deteriorating in jail--he has blood pressure problems and has been taken to the hospital three times for serious medical emergencies during his seven months in detention. His family is extremely concerned about this latest health crisis and is asking supporters to please step up the pressure on ICE to release him immediately.

Mohammed, Mohsen, Mojtaba and Mostafa Mirmehdi have been in immigration detention for over 41 months, since Oct. 2, 2001. They have been held longer than any other post-911 detainees. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruled they are not a national security threat, and can't be sent back to Iran.

The Mirmehdi brothers have been denied release because two of them went to a demonstration sponsored by the Iranian opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in June 1997, four months before the NCRI and one of its affiliates, the Moujahedeen Khalq (MEK), were added to the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Yet high-profile politicians including former attorney general John Ashcroft continued to support these groups actively as late as 2000, when 228 congressional representatives and 31 senators signed on to a letter supporting the NCRI and MEK. Ashcroft and these members of Congress have not been charged with supporting terrorists, yet the Mirmehdi brothers remain in jail.

On Feb. 3, a day before the four brothers were to be interviewed on ABC's "Nightline," and a few weeks before ICE faced a Feb. 20 deadline to free them or explain their continued detention, ICE officials laid out a series of restrictive conditions for their release--including one which bars them from attending demonstrations or from having any contact with supporters of the MEK or NCRI. At the same time, ICE cancelled the Nightline interview, saying the brothers' situation had been resolved. When the brothers refused to accept the unconstitutional and unfair restrictions, ICE said they were "uncooperative" and barred the media from further interviews at the jail. Now ICE says it will not release them.

Press inquiries about the Hamdan and Mirmehdi cases can be directed to attorneys Stacy Tolchin and Marc Van Der Hout at 415-981-3000, ext. 320.

Mr. Hamdan's support committee can be reached through the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter, 714-535-1719, mail@adclaoc.org

The Feb. 28 action alert for Mr. Hamdan can be read at: http://www.lifeorliberty.org/libertyblog/archives/000077.html

For more background information on the Mirmehdi Brothers, see:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20050221-9999-1n21brothers.html

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4510019

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Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI) Coalicion para los Derechos

Humanos de los Inmigrantes

339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012

tel 212-254-2591 / 888-575-8242

fax 212-674-9139 email chri@itapnet.org> http://www.itapnet.org/chri

-->> To get on the CHRI email list (average 4-5 messages a week), sign up through the website at http://www.itapnet.org/chri -or- to be added to or

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