Email from the Palestine Solidarity Committee at the University of Texas – Austin
As some of you might know our friend and often partner-activist, Riad Hamad, from Austin, passed away this week. The circumstances of his death were tragic and confusing.
Riad’s dedication to the Palestinian rights, non-violent activism and Palestinian economic development was unparalleled. He founded the Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund (PCFW), which raised millions or dollars for projects benefiting children, women and families in the occupied territories. Much of this money was raised through selling Palestinian fair trade goods in the US. Riad was also a dedicated husband, father of two young-adult children and a middle school educator.
To honor Riad’s work the University of Texas Palestine Solidarity Committee is attempting to raise 1,000 dollars for PCFW and donate it in memory of Riad. We will also have an olive tree planted in Palestine with a plaque commemorating Riad and his work. There will be a public memorial in the near future and we would like to have everything in place by then.
We send this letter to ask each of you to pledge $10-$100 towards this effort. We know most of you are students or work for some non-paying NGO, so we appreciate whatever you can give.
For some of you this might be your first exposure to the Palestinian cause, Riad or PCFW–all of which are surrounded by misnomers. Here is a link to an interview Riad did with Free Speech TV, we encourage you to take a minute to watch and remember what a dedicated and inspired person he was.
Please make donation checks out to Palestine Solidarity Committee and mail them to:
Palestine Solidarity Committee
Student Services Building 4.400 #294
100 West Dean Keeton Street
Austin, Tx 78712-1534
Until we meet beneath the olive tree,
Palestine Solidarity Committee, past and present members.
Obituary from the Austin American-Statesman (April 19, 2008)
Riad Elsolh Hamad Longtime peace activist, beloved father, partner, soul mate, and educator Riad Elsolh Hamad died tragically on April 14, 2008. Riad was born on September 20, 1952 in Beirut, Lebanon, but called Austin home since 1970.
A lifelong scholar, Riad received the first of many degrees from the University of Texas, Austin. At the time of his death, he was pursuing a PhD in Educational Technology. Riad touched many lives as an educator and friend. He was a computer technology instructor at Clint Small Middle School. He was a selfless individual who focused on helping students realize their potential. He was also a champion of human rights and worked tirelessly for peace and justice.
He founded the Palestinian Children’s Welfare Fund to aid Palestinian children, women, and families in need. Riad is survived by his loving partner, Diana; his daughter, Rita; his son, Abdullah; his brother, Omar; and other siblings and family across the world. He leaves behind countless friends who will miss him dearly and a legacy of love and peace. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Palestinian Children’s Welfare Fund (www.pcwf.org, or by mail at PCWF – Riad Hamad Memorial, 405 Vista Heights Road, El Cerrito, CA 94530).
Austin Police Department News
April 17, 2008
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: 1400 Nash Hernandez
Deceased: Riad Hamad (D. O. B. 9-20-52)
On Monday, April 14, 2008, Riad Hamad was reported missing by his family. APD personnel provided resources in an attempt to locate Hamad but were unsuccessful. On Tuesday, April 15, 2008, information was provided to the missing persons unit by persons close to Hamad that he had been experiencing suicidal thoughts. APD continued its attempt to locate Hamad with the assistance of his family. On this same day, APD located Hamad’s vehicle parked near Lady Bird Lake. An extensive search was conducted of the area but Hamad was not found.
At 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, 2008, a body was reported floating in Lady Bird Lake near Comal and Nash Hernandez Streets. When the body was removed from the lake, tape was found around the eyes, and the hands and legs were loosely bound. The bindings of his hands and legs and placement of the tape were consistent with Hamad having done this to himself. Detectives know that Hamad walked from his vehicle to the water on his own based on evidence retrieved from the scene.
At this time, the Austin Police Department does not suspect foul play was involved. Witnesses and family members have confirmed with police that Hamad had extreme stressors in his life. This incident is still an on going investigation, but all signs indicate this may have been a suicide.
According to the preliminary results from the Medical Examiner’s Office there were no signs of trauma to the body or signs of a struggle.
The Austin Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance with anyone who may have seen Hamad between late Monday evening and Tuesday to contact the Homicide Unit . . . .