The following emails document the activities of Riad Hamad during the 2006-2007 holiday season. The first clip from the Palestine Solidarity Committee of the University of Texas at Austin describes Mr. Hamad’s activities. In the next email, Mr. Hamad steps back from being lead organizer, in deference to the entrance of the Arab American Community Coalition of Washington. But it is clear from the email of Jan. 6, 2007 that Mr. Hamad continues to play the role of passionate Good Samaritan to the incarcerated families at the Hutto prison.–gm
Email from PSC, 12/27/06, 5:25 pm
. . . Riad makes frequent visits to the families at the Hutto “Residential Facility” to provide them with phone cards to communicate with family, provide them with snacks (since they cannot eat the pork they are being fed), and moral support. If you would like to join him in visiting the families, please do not hesitate to contact him.
Email from Riad Hamad, 1/2/07, 3:53 pm
[following involvement of Arab American Community Coalition]
This is to advise you that my part in this case was to attempt and recruit individuals and groups to raise money for these families and help them to get out of the Hutto Gulag. With the latest developments and events, I find myself unable to continue the work and will focus my efforts on the PCWF projects and to raise money for the families in Hutto to cover their basic humanitarian needs. I wish you luck in your endeavour and success in getting the innocent children from this horrendous, illegal and criminal circumstances.
Thanks for your work and support for the children in Palestine
Email from Riad Hamad 01/06/07 9:32 p.m.
Subject: URGENT Update on the Palestinian families and children in the Hutto detention facility
As mentioned in several of my previous emails, there are three Palestinian families in the T. Hutto detention center near Austin, Texas with children as young as four years old. The story came out after I received a message from our friend . . . seeking some more information about them.
I went to visit the families three weeks ago and was allowed to see only one of them as the rules of the facility state that each family can get only ONE visitor per day for one hour and only on weekends. The families can receive guests on Saturdays and Sundays for ONE hour ONLY and two hours if the visitor is from a town that is more 300 miles away. I went to visit the families last weekend and with a friend and we were allowed to see two families, . . . and got to know them better.
. . . the husband of one of the women in the detention center was moved from Haskell, Texas to a county jail in Oklahoma where the conditions are much worst because he complained to his attorney that the officials at the jail did not give him his diabetes medicine. [He] was admitted to intensive care this past week due to the deterioration of his medical condition according to his sister in law who lives in Dallas. Three attorneys went to visit the families this week in the detention facility and met with them for several hours to seek more information about them and about the living conditions there.
I was supposed to go to the detention facility today with a local attorney in her personal capacity and another friend from the local mosque but both could not show up for personal reasons. Finally, I managed to convince a friend to come along with me to see the families and to meet the children who are absolutely adorable..
As soon as I walked in the facility, the attendant at the door recognized me and while I was signing the guest book she told me that the she read what I had written about the facility and the conditions inside the facility. I replied to her that I was only interested in the condition of the there families and that I do not really care about the facility.
The attendant called up her supervisor who was very brutal in her approach towards me, and the friend that came along with me to see the children. She informed me that the officials at the facility suspect that I am coming to the facility to write about the facility and they might have to “ban” me from entering the facility. I did not respond and kept my cool and informed that the families are friends now and that I am only interested in helping them and ensuring that that they get money and food to survive their stay.
My friend was not allowed in since she is “not a relative” according to the “captain” who reprimanded me although I am not a family member either. Also, I was allowed to see one family ONLY and for 20 minutes only although the rules state clearly that I can see them for 1 hour. The rules posted outside clearly state that visitors can be
“3 – Family, friends and associates.”
The families had put my name on the visitors list and asked to allow me to visit them and the Ibrahim family, the only family I was allowed to see today was VERY appreciative of our work and efforts. I even managed to get smiles from the children, the four years old girl and the 14 years old girl inside when I waved at them and smiled at them from behind the glass windows.
My friend Tammie waited outside and right before the facility, she asked the guard at the gate about the rules for visiting the facility and the guard asked her to wait for the captain who is going to come and answer her questions. I told my friend that I will wait for her in the car since I was not interested in finding out the rules and had decided that I will not go back to the facility without an attorney.
The captain followed me outside with an extra large body guard and a female immigration officer who was at the facility when I was there. She warned me that they are suspicious of me and that the officials at the detention facility are suspicious of us and that the are going to run a background check about my friend . . . to see if were really friends of the families and to determine whether they will even allow us back in the facility.
The IMPORTANT thing about the visit is that the woman . . . told me that the families were denied phone cards this week as I left money in their account last week and they were promised phone cards by no later than Tuesday of this week due to the Christmas holidays. Also, she told me that the guards were yelling and screaming at them and at the children specifically this week and that the children are disturbed by the yelling and the screaming as they are not doing anything to deserve the yelling.
The children were near here and one of them was eating crackers as it is the only thing that they can eat there from the menu offered by the detention facility.
I am in the process of calling and emailing some friends to come with me tomorrow as I suspect that the officials at the facility are going to fabrication something against me to ban from entering the facility. The captain told me on the way out that I will not be allowed to talk to the 14 year old boy alone, although I did not ask to speak with him alone and Tammie could testify to these facts. My concern is that they are trying to fabricate events to ban me and others from visiting the families and to isolate them in order to deprive them of their rights and endanger their lives and safety.
One more thing, the Arab and Muslim community in Austin, one more time proved to me that they are a bunch of pathetic bunch that I am ashamed of knowing since ONLY two people so far had the urge to come out and visit these families and ONLY two donated less than 100 dollars to help these families in their plight and raise money for their legal defense. This is despite the fact that hundreds of them are well to do but would rather spend their money on belly dancing events that will not save their behinds if we Arabs do not stand up to this aggression on our civil and human rights.
THANK YOU for you patience, work and suppo
rt for the children in Palestine