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Palestinian Rights Activist arrested in Boston

On the evening of May 30, a young Palestinian activist, Jaoudat Abouazza, was stopped by the Cambridge police. Without being charged with a crime or read his rights by the arresting officers, he was handcuffed and brought to the Cambridge police station.


On the evening of May 30, a young Palestinian activist, Jaoudat Abouazza, was stopped by the Cambridge police. Without being charged with a crime or read his rights by the arresting officers, he was handcuffed and brought to the Cambridge police station.

Within hours, Jaoudat would find himself in jail being interrogated by the FBI for suspicion of ‘terrorism’. The evidence? He was Palestinian and in possession of leaflets calling for the protest of the Israeli Independence Day Festival on June 9th in Boston. Jaoudat is still being detained.

Initial motions by his lawyer for a bail hearing and an official arraignment on the charges of his original arrest were circumvented in a pattern now familiar in the

detention of Arabs and Muslims across the nation after September 11. Held over the weekend in jail, he was interrogated more than seven times by the FBI—sometimes awakened at 1:00 a.m. for questioning. Although he had already obtained a lawyer, she was present at none of these proceedings. By the time of his arraignment in court on the Monday following, the INS had already filed a detainer. Jaoudat was moved to an INS detention facility in the early hours of the morning on Tuesday. Under legislation in force since 1996 (the Counter-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act), now bolstered by the recent USA Patriot Act, Jaoudat can now expect indefinite detention by the INS.

In case after case since September 11, Arab and Muslim immigrants have been imprisoned by the INS, generally for minor infractions or irregularities in their immigration papers, and then held incommunicado, denied access to lawyers or family, with no procedures for appeal or judicial intervention. Under provisions for ‘secret evidence’, they may never even learn the nature of the case against them.

Expanded powers of domestic surveillance put into place in the last week of May have made it easier to target political dissidents. The Justice Department and the FBIappear to have begun a new wave of arrests, specifically targeting Palestinian and Arab political activists. The case of a Palestinian solidarity organizer in Urbana, Illinois, and the case of Jaoudat Abouazza here in Boston are two prominent examples. Both occur in the context of increasingly vocal criticism of Israel, and U.S. support for Israeli policies, in which Arab and Muslim immigrants have played a significant role.

On April 20, 100,000 people marched on Washington to protest Bush’s ‘war on terrorism.’ The large presence of Palestinian activists made itself felt across the country.

Here in Boston, Abouazza has been a leading activist inthe Palestinian struggle. His photograph appeared in the Boston Globe as one of the leaders in a local march against the Israeli occupation on April 6th that drew close to 2,000 activists—the largest to date in Boston. He has participated in weekly protest vigils in front of the Israeli Consulate. Several of those protests have come under heavy surveillance by the Boston police, who have repeatedly photographed demonstrators and their license plates. His arrest on May 30 occurs a little more than a week before a major protest against the Israel Day Festival planned for June 9th in which Abouazza has been a key organizer. Flyers for June 9th which were found in his car were cited by the prosecutor in court as a reason to continue holding him. People who are familiar with the history of this protest will recognize that this is not the first time Palestinian free speech rights have come under assault by the police here in Boston. A similar protest in Brookline last year was illegally suppressed by the local police; its leader, Amer Jubran, was arrested on trumped up assault charges which were ultimately thrown out of court as completely groundless—but only after a militant national campaign in his defense. His lawyers later revealed through motionsof discovery that the police had been in communication with the Israeli consulate, and had given them the names and photographs of Palestinian demonstrators. Such actions represent a serious threat of retaliation against them if they should return home and against family members still living in the occupied territories. This shameful history of illegal arrests and detention and the unconstitutional suppression of Palestinian free speechrights must stop. The increasing criminalization of dissent in the United States in the aftermath of September 11th endangers the rights of all of us, citizens and immigrants alike.

We urge everyone who is concerned for fundamental human rights to act now indefense of Jaoudat Abouazza. Abouazza’spre-trial hearing will be held on Thursday, June 13, at the CambridgeDistrict Court on 3rd St. at 9:00 a.m.

Join us to protest his continuing detention. We also urge people to send letters ofprotest and solidarity to our office (contact information below) so that they can be forwarded both to the judge as soon as he is assigned and to Jaoudat himself.

Jaoudat Abouazza Defense Committee - International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to

Stop War and End Racism) 31 Germania

Street Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 617/522-6626



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