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Visa detainees allege beatings - Guardian, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Visa detainees allege beatings Brooklyn jail investigated in wake of September 11 http://www.guardian.co.uk/bush/story/0,7369,721207,00.html Oliver Burkeman in
    Message 1 of 1 , May 24 3:56 AM
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      Visa detainees allege beatings

      Brooklyn jail investigated in wake of September 11


      Oliver Burkeman in New York
      Friday May 24, 2002
      The Guardian

      The US justice department is investigating claims that
      many of the hundreds of Middle Eastern men detained in
      American jails after September 11 have been beaten and
      verbally abused by prison guards.
      The inspector general, Glenn Fine, the justice
      department's internal watchdog, is conducting a
      "review of allegations" after lawyers representing
      some of the men still in detention said their clients
      had been kicked and punched.

      Some detainees say abuse at the metropolitan detention
      centre in Brooklyn intensified after they cooperated
      with the initial investigation by the inspector
      general's office.

      At least two began a hunger strike this week, their
      lawyers said. Many are being held for visa-related
      violations and have not been charged with a crime.

      "They have been struck physically, strip-searched,
      deliberately stopped from praying; they've been cuffed
      behind their backs, picked up by their thumbs and
      dragged from one place to another," said Sandra
      Nicholls, representing two current detainees. "They
      feel they are suffering reprisals because they talked
      to the inspector general."

      One inmate said he was told: "Now you're suffering
      like the people in the towers suffered." Two others
      recently deported had been physically abused before
      being put in solitary confinement, their lawyer,
      Martin Stolar, said.

      One was "picked up and thrown from corner to corner of
      his cell while being accused of involvement in
      September 11," Mr Stolar said,

      The second was "knocked around, pushed into a wall by
      [immigration service] agents, and kept in solitary
      confinement [for] 23 hours a day, lights on all the
      time, subject to verbal abuse [about his religion]".

      Dennis Hasty, the detention centre's warden, was
      unavailable for comment yesterday.

      Some basic privileges, such as the provision of
      pillows, were granted to the general prison population
      but not to the detainees, Ms Nicholls alleged.

      "The murderers get this stuff and these people, who
      haven't been charged with anything, don't," she said.

      In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, about 1,200
      non-US nationals were detained for visa-related
      violations. While a handful did have connections to
      the hijackers, none has been charged with involvement
      in those atrocities.

      Amnesty International has condemned the "extreme
      secrecy" with which the detentions have been handled,
      accusing the immigration and naturalisation service of
      violating international law.

      The American Civil Liberties Union has brought a case
      against several counties where detainees are being
      held, accusing them of illegally withholding their

      Another organisation, the Centre for Constitutional
      Rights, is suing the bureau of prisons in New York on
      the inmates' behalf.

      Some of the remaining detainees, almost all of whom
      are being held in Brooklyn and two New Jersey jails,
      have agreed to voluntary deportation, but are still
      held for months, according to Drum, a campaigning
      organisations which holds weekly protests outside the

      One lawyer spoke of a four-month wait, even after a
      detainee had agreed to leave the country and the
      lawyer had bought his airline ticket.

      "Families are being torn apart," said Monami Maulik,
      an immigrant rights organiser at Drum. "These people
      are being isolated, often not allowed access to legal
      assistance. This is racial profiling - the targeting
      and arresting of immigrants. We want answers."

      Detention for minor immigration violations is almost
      unheard of, but an INS spokesman denied that the
      policy had been applied in a biased way.

      "The actions taken are based upon the 9/11
      investigation - period," Russ Bergeron said. "Not
      their ethnicity. Not their nationality. Not their

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