FROM BEHIND THE WALLS:
MUSLIM LEADER DECRIES PRISON CONDITIONS
By Jane Cutter
Ann Arbor, Mich.
A recent letter to a supporter from Rabih Haddad reveals that the Ann Arbor-area Muslim community leader is being held under inhumane conditions in Chicago.
Haddad, a Lebanese immigrant, was arrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Services and taken from his home on Dec. 14, allegedly for overstaying his visa.
However, it is clear to many that his arrest and detention are part of a wider pattern of racist profiling and roundups of Arab and Muslim men in this country in the wake of 9/11.
Haddad is founder of the Global Relief Foundation, an Islamic charity. The U.S. government froze the organization's assets in December, although no evidence of links to "terrorists" has been produced.
Haddad was initially held in the Monroe County Jail in Michigan, in the Metro Detroit area. There his wife and four children were able to visit regularly and talk on the phone.
Despite an outpouring of support from the Ann Arbor community, he was denied bond after several hearings conducted in secret. Even Congressional Rep. John Conyers was barred from attending.
Haddad, who taught religion classes and volunteered extensively in Ann Arbor, was declared a "threat to the community" because he owns a registered hunting rifle. Since then Haddad has been moved, without notice, to Chicago. He is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center
LETTER FROM INSIDE THE CELL
Haddad's letter to a member of the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism describes in detail the conditions under which he is being held.
The conditions detailed by Haddad are very similar to those endured by prisoners in Control Unit or Super Maximum prisons, such as California's Pelican Bay State Prison. Solitary confinement, with almost no human contact or stimulation for 23 hours or more a day, is the hallmark of such prisons.
Such treatment is a form of torture.
The United Nations Convention Against Torture states that torture is any act by which severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted with the knowledge or agreement of public officials as punishment, to obtain a confession, or to intimidate or coerce. The extreme isolation of human beings clearly inflicts psychological pain.
Even court rulings in the United States have acknowledged this, although the findings have been limited to those who are already especially vulnerable--those with mental disabilities. In Madrid v. Gomez, for instance, Judge Thelton B. Henderson ruled in 1995 that the isolation of mentally disabled prisoners constituted a form of psychological torture. However, psychological research has indicated that extreme isolation, even in the absence of prior mental disability, can lead to symptoms such as hallucination.
The conditions under which Haddad are being held seem intended to break his spirit. However, he remains strong.
Haddad's supporters ask that letters, faxes and phone calls protesting his treatment be directed to:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney
Northern District, Illinois
219 S. Dearborn St., 5th floor
Chicago, Ill. 60604
Phone (312) 353-5300
fax: (312) 353-2067
Metropolitan Correctional Center
(312) 233-0567, push option 4 for "staff directory" and ask to speak to Mrs. Kenner, the warden's secretary.
Write letters of support to
Metropolitan Correctional Center
71 W. Van Buren St.
Chicago, Ill., 60605
Send letters certified mail, return receipt requested.
Sing The "Free Rabih Haddad" Petition