The Guardian March 27, 2002

Release detainees in US jails

Khalid Musa, a 23-year-old Australian citizen, originally from Saudi 
Arabia, came to the United States last summer to see relatives and earn a 
few dollars. Instead, he was arrested on October 4 as part of a roundup of 
foreigners, mostly of Arab or South Asian descent, blamed for the September 
11 attacks.

Many of the 1100 arrested last fall have been released or deported, but the 
US Justice Department says about 326 remain in custody. Most are in New 
Jersey jails, charged with immigration violations. Some had to stage hunger 
strikes before immigration officials granted them more space for communal 
prayer meetings and halal food on religious holidays.

Khalid Musa's "crime" was staying in the US beyond the 90 days permitted 
under a waiver program that admits people from certain countries without 
requiring a visa.

Cleared by the FBI in November, he remains in jail on immigration charges.

In mid-February, his lawyer sued to get him deported. Musa was supposed to 
be put on a plane soon as travel arrangements are made and his belongings 
retrieved, but that had not happened by mid-March.

The US Government has taken advantage of the secrecy and indefinite 
suspensions permitted under the much looser immigration law, instead of the 
more rigorous provisions of criminal law. It often refuses to release 
detainees' names, countries of origin, or what they were charged with.

Such detentions may be "legal", but they have nothing to do with justice or 
"fighting terrorism". It would be more accurate to consider these 
detentions part of an unjust, racist war against immigrants, and against 
human rights and democracy.

As long at the United States continues with such policies, its pose as the 
defender of "civilised values" is nothing but a smokescreen for its true 
role as the world's leading imperialist bully.

* * *
People's Voice, Canada's leading Communist newspaper

Back to index page