And The Case of Sami Al-Arian
By Eddie Griffin
There is a prison within a prison within a prison that I once described as “the end of the line for all society”. It is one step from the death chamber. Very few men have gone and returned to the outside world. The reason is this: Most men confined to these special isolation cells are considered the most dangerous in America, and indeed the world.
Officials made the mistake of sending me there and allowing me to survive and return to society. I was the guinea pig that got away. But these special isolation units remain, containing those who are stigmatized and labeled the “most dangerous”, among them are accused terrorists and outlaws of every political persuasion, which once also included the Black Panthers.
In fact, it was black radicalism that reasoned into the building of super-max prisons. They did not intend to ever let us go home alive. We were all doing life sentences and beyond, except I had a feasible 50-years to see daylight. Most of my contemporaries never would.
Rarely does the world know about prisoners who are held incommunicado. "We do not torture", the US government says, but they deny the prisoner the right to speak, the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, and the right to life. The cries of these prisoners are muffled. They cannot speak outside the confines of their isolated incarceration, in the dungeon… the prison within the prison within the prison… the end of the line, from the closest place to hell on earth.
Sensory deprivation chambers insulate man from the electro-magnetic field of the earth. The brick and steel makes it impossible to get oxygen enough to the brain and sensory organ input. By strangulation of the senses, a man becomes disoriented, and animus, brutal as beast, defiant to death.
Welcome home, Eddie Griffin. This is where your short-lived prison rebellion has landed you, in max segregation in a maximum security institution, where you have no privilege to inside and outside mail service. Nothing goes out. Nothing comes in. Plus, we’ll leave all the windows open so you can freeze to death in the coldest of winter time.
You do not have the privilege of wearing nothing but your humble pair of BVDs. And you will have 15-minutes of running water in the morning and 15-minutes in the evening. The warden spelled it out, as cold and plain as he could. The government of the United States wanted Eddie Griffin dead.
Oh how wonderful, it did not make me feel. A mistake, a tactical error, and here I was in the dead zone. “Mr. Smart Ass,” the warden called me.
I must have had a heavenly smile on my face when I handed that warden our Petition for Redress of our Grievances that lead to the Bicentennial Hunger Strike of 1976. For two years, we researched and drafted the petition. And, as I proudly presented to the warden, he snatched it out of my hand, and banished me to the dungeon. I was charged with instigating a hunger strike.
This is not the most ideal way to international fame. But that’s what happened to me, as I became a cog in an international controversy over human rights and political prisoners.
Oh great! See. I’m on TV.
The Russians loved it: U. S. Political Prisoners. And, so did South Africa, who was holding Nelson Mandela in prison for political protests that rocked the country. Now I was featured as a hunger striker against prison conditions, and being used as guinea pigs in CIA-backed mind control experiments against black political dissidents.
Okay, being on television is not a very good idea. Now any and everything that happened, you are the blame, Eddie Griffin.
So, they take me to segregation, and a riot erupts in the prison. They bring the rioters to segregation with me. There is another riot in the dungeon. Everything is burned.
Griffin, we can charge you with instigating a riot and destroying government property. You could get ten more years.
Oh my gosh! Fifty plus ten is sixty years. But then they had a bigger problem… prisoners killing guards. Oh my gosh! Are they going to charge me with murder also? They could, but I was “political” and had good lawyers and international attention.
Good? Not good.
Mr. Smart Ass had a bunch of smart ass lawyers. So, they moved me again, and shot me full of drugs to break my resistance. When I woke up, I was staring the devil in his eyes. His name was Lt. Allen, and he already had one lynching to his credit.
The Case of Sami Al-Arian
The government witch hunt for terrorists has led to an onslaught against Muslims living in the United States. However, to quickest way to get black listed is to publicly defend a Muslim organization under investigation. By popular mob rule, the government has now empowered itself to indiscriminately snatch people of the street like the KGB, and hold them incommunicado infinitum.
Such is the case of a Palestinian immigrant and computer science professor Sami Al-Arian. It is one of a rash of government prosecution of those who support Palestinian institutions, because they are labeled terrorists.
Sami Al-Arian was acquitted of all 16 charges. Yet the government refuses to free him. To protest his condition, Sami has commenced a hunger strike.
How would you feel to be torn away from your family, held for two years, acquitted, and still incarcerated? The U. S. government has used its broadest powers to do as it did to me… silence me to death.
On Thursday, May 4, Dr. Al-Arian was hauled from Orient Road Jail in Tampa at 3:45 a.m. to a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida. He was placed in the Special Housing Unit (SHU), a section of the prison reserved to temporarily house convicted inmates who violate prison rules. Prison administrators said they received a letter, believed to be from federal marshals, which contained the ridiculous allegation that Dr. Al-Arian is a danger to other inmates. This claim was made to justify the torturous conditions under which Dr. Al-Arian has been placed in Tallahassee.
Dr. Al-Arian's family, supporters and all people of conscience would be shocked and outraged by this claim because Dr. Al-Arian is a well-known community leader, respected professor, and political prisoner, who not only has no connection to violence but was acquitted by 12 jurors of any connection to violence after a 6-month trial in December 2005. Even the government conceded in its plea deal with Dr. Al-Arian that he has no connection to violence.
Once again, Dr. Al-Arian is being held in solitary confinement, a constant in his three and a half year imprisonment. Violent, hardened criminals are given more rights and treated more humanely than Dr. Al-Arian. He is clearly being subjected to especially harsh conditions because of his political beliefs, ethnicity and religion. It is further evident that this vindictive treatment is a deliberate attempt to break him physically and psychologically.
Furthermore, as he has no watches or clocks, Dr. Al-Arian feels disoriented and cannot properly carry out the five daily Muslim prayers. He was only able to leave his cell twice in one week for one hour each; the law states that inmates in solitary confinement must be given one hour a day. He was allowed only one phone call with his family, exactly a week after he was moved. His family was extremely worried and distraught when they did not hear from him for a week. Moreover, Dr. Al-Arian was not able to contact his attorneys, nor were they able to reach him to discuss pressing legal issues with deadlines that passed during the week he was deprived from communication.
In the course of his detention and during the critical time preparing for his trial, Dr. Al-Arian spent 27 months in the SHU unit of Coleman Federal Penitentiary. The legal limit of placing regular inmates in the SHU is one year. Again, the stark discrepancy in treatment undoubtedly demonstrates that he is being singled out.
Conscious of the infamously abusive treatment of conditions in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison, the international community is closely watching the treatment of political prisoners in the United States.
Please sign the Petition:[Here]
For more information contact:
Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sami Al-Arian (#19638)
Northern Neck Regional Jail
P.O. Box 1060
Warsaw, VA 22572