Haiti Relief: Partners In Health
Fahad Hashmi Vigil
Hundreds of activists with the Gaza Freedom Marchers have returned from Israel, Palestine and Egypt bringing home incredible stories from the largest international mobilization of people in solidarity. We hear firsthand accounts from our own Michael Ratner who with his family were among the 1,300 solidarity marchers. We are also joined by Felice Gelman who has also returned from the Gaza Freedom March. As many listeners may know, the Egyptian authorities refused to allow the 1,365 participants from 43 countries to enter the Gaza Strip, but later 100 people were let in to Gaza.
Felice Gelman / Michael Ratner:
- It was a remarkable event despite not getting into Gaza. 1400 people from 43 countries, Europe India, Australia, South Africa. Within 3 days the Egyptian government went from we need more info, we’re working with you to . . . you’re not coming.
- We were unable to get a meeting place at any time for any group of people. The Egyptians said that any gathering of more than six people would be illegal. One of the prerequisites in order to get into Gaza is you don’t engage with local opposition in Egypt. In a way it was a perfect demonstration of what the siege in Gaza is all about.
- Egypt is a police state. There are 2 million police for a population of 60 million.
- Egyptian police are very brutal with their people. They’re disappeared, they’re tortured. No room for democracy. No support for a civil society to express itself to protest.
- The thing that was incredible was the number of Egyptians that wanted to join us. There were a couple of instances where people were hurt. The secret police would try to single people out at a demonstration and punch or hit them.
- They would identify women who were Muslims. I don’t know if was that they were Egyptian and they (secret police) thought they could get away with it. They beat up a 12 year old girl and a 75 year old woman, they were not discriminating.
- Egyptians (opposition) joined in with GFM demonstrations in Cairo.
- We had a demonstration at the US Embassy in Cairo, the police surrounded them for five hours before they could get into Embassy. The US Embassy didn’t seem to think that this was bizarre until they were reminded of their legal obligation to help their citizens.
- The US Embassy informed the Egyptian police that they had no objection of us going to Gaza.
- There were some people who went to Al-Arish, and the Egyptian police were onto that. They surrounded a hotel in Al-Arish.
- (Michael Ratner) I can’t imagine the logistics and the organizing nightmare it was for you guys.
- I can’t think of a time since the Spanish Civil War, that there was a contingent of such size and national breadth that traveled to assist people in their distress from a brutal attack.
- I think this was an incredible demonstration of where the world stands on Gaza.
- My kids 19 and 21, seeing people with the courage to go to these demonstrations from all over the world. Out of that I think there will be a global organizing structure.
- The other thing is the drafting of the Cairo Declaration, drafted by the South African delegation. Calling on the ending of the occupations of Gaza and the West Bank, primarily with global BDS movements. (Palestinian unified call)
- When Gaza was getting attacked, it was the South African trade unionists that refused to load the weapons that were being sent to Israel.
- The potential for labor to move on this is enormous and powerful.
- The Gaza Freedom March website will be handed over to the committee working on the Cairo Declaration.
- New York Report Back – Judson Memorial Church, January 21 / 55 Washington Square South.
Guest: Felice Gelman, member of the Wespac Middle East Committee and a member of the Steering Committee that organized the Gaza Freedom March. She has traveled to Gaza twice since the Israeli invasion last year.
January 11, 2010 marked the 8th anniversary since the Bush administration turned the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into a “enemy combatant” detention facility. Essentially re-commissioning the base as a torture chamber and legal black hole, where prisoner suicides are considered acts of war. As we’ve reported on in the last few months, the Obama administration has held on to the power to allow for a preventive detention system that would indefinitely jail terror suspects in the United States without trial. Meanwhile, military tribunals are now mainstream news; the tribunals are called Combatant Status Review Tribunals, where military justices discern who is an enemy combatant. These trials are also the subject of a 30 minute film titled The Response. The film is written and produced by actor Sig Libowitz, who is transitioning from being an actor playing an attorney on the TV series Law and Order, to becoming a real lawyer. While in law school, Libowitz was tranfixed by the tribunal process of no jury and no defense lawyer. The film is based on actual court transcripts and is shortlisted for an Academy Award. The Response is screening at Columbia University’s School of Law on January 20th at 6pm.
- Michael Ratner: First of all there was no real process for people in Guantanamo. Then we won the right to Habeas Corpus, to go into a federal court and challenge their detention. At that point the Bush Administration set up a special process in Guantanamo.
- As we depict in the film, this is a process where the detainees don’t have a lawyer, they are not provided with the evidence that’s against them. The real transcripts told the story of the detainees and the judges in these CSRTs. From that I saw an incredible movie, and incredible opportunity.
- Because, I thought I had an understanding of what Guantanamo was all about, then I read the transcripts (of a CSRT) It gives a human dimension to the detainee and the military judges.
- Screening at Columbia Law School, Wednesday January 20th 6PM All the cast will be there and Shane Kadidal and Matthew Waxman. We’ve screened the movie at the Pentagon.
Guest: Sig Libowitz, an American lawyer, actor, film executive and director. Libowitz is notable for producing, directing and starring in a film, The Response, he wrote after reading some transcripts from Guantanamo captives‘ Combatant Status Review Tribunals. Libowitz is an executive for the acquisitions department of Turner Classic Movies. He had a recurring roles in The Sopranos and Law and Order.
Free Fahad Hashmi
Fahad Hashmi a Pakistani-born American student, has spent nearly 2 1/2 years in solitary confinement in a Manhattan detention facility. He has been isolated for one of the longest periods in America as a suspect before trial. Hosts reported on this case in March 2008; we spoke with Fahad Hashmi’s father Syed Anwar, and Fahad’s attorney Sean Mayer. Fahad is accused of storing waterproof socks, ponchos and raincoats. The US charges were based on allowing an acquaintance “Janaid Babar” to store this rain gear in the closet of his London flat. Janaid Babar was a paid government cooperator who has been used to testify against Muslims around the world. Nicknamed ‘Supergrass’ by the British media, Babar was used by the UK government to testify against Omar Khyam and several other Muslim men in the so-called Fertilizer Case. Meanwhile Fahad’s trial is expected in January 2010; the prosecution will use Junaid as a main witness. Hashmi has been held under the Special Administrative Measures that include a 23 hour a day lockdown, constant video surveillance of his cell and limited visitation.
Faisal Hashmi (Fahad’s Brother):
- I’m under SAMs as our family is. Our visits with him, we can’t talk about it, but I can say from open court, he looks frail, he looks jittery. He’s been in solitary confinement for 2 and half years.
- He’s in the Metropolitan Correctional Center a few blocks from here. Within his own cell, he’s videotaped at all times. He’s not allowed to talk out loud. He has a microphone in his cell.
- This is about deconstructing a human being, depriving him of his humanity. He’s 29 years old.
- Charged with four counts of material support for terrorism. He stored ponchos and rain gear.
- In 2004, this acquaintance while working on his master’s degree stayed with Fahad.
- This was January 2004. He went to the US in April 2004, was arrested, and became a cooperating witness for the US government. At this time about 8 people got arrested, some in Pakistan, London and Canada, all on Junaid Barbar’s witness cooperation.
- In June 2006, my brother gets arrested. They tell Fahad, that Junaid gave the ponchos and gloves to Al-Qaeda and you gave material support to terrorists.You let Junaid use your cell phone, and Juanaid borrowed $300 from Fahad, saying that his ailing daughter needed the money. Fahad’s trial starts January 6, 2010
- FreeFahad.com. This case has nothing to do with ponchos and socks.
- This is a case we need to be concerned about for those who value the First Amendment. I had Fahad as a student in Brooklyn College in 2002.
- There’s no way to understand this case without understanding the way Fahad was being watched many years ago even as a college student. We’ve sent a letter to the attorney general addressing 3 main issues: the conditions of his confinement, the way his due process is being violated and then First Amendment issues.
- The letter was signed by more than 550 scholars and writers. Organizing among the Muslim student community.
- Theaters Against War calling attention to Fahad’s case.
- Free Fahad Vigil January 18, 2010
Guests: Fahad’s brother Faisal Hashmi and Jeanne Theoharis, an associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. She was one of Fahad’s professors and she has been following this case.