Voices of Solidarity

February 20: National Day of Solidarity with Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Immigrants

Revolutionary Worker #1141, March 3, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org

The following are brief excerpts from a few of the many people who spoke out across the country on February 20.

Saikou Diallo, whose son Amadou Diallo was murdered by NYPD cops:

"On February 4, 1999, my son fell victim to racial profiling and it cost him his life. His only crime was the color of his skin. Today even more people are being singled out and persecuted because of race. We can not allow this to continue. We must stand together in our fight against racial profiling. If we don't stand up for each other, who will? What happened on September 11 was a terrible injustice. Many innocent people lost their lives in this relentless display of violence. But to allow Muslims, Arabs, South Asian immigrants or any person to be denied legal representation or to just quietly disappear is also an injustice and must be stopped."

Actor Brendan Sexton III:

"I'm here speaking today because the latest movie I've been in, I'm not too proud of. It's called Black Hawk Down... The movie portrays the Somali people in a horrible light, and the only way they're spoken of is `skinnies' because of the horrible famine that people have faced in Somalia... The reason why they've been dehumanized in that manner is because that's the only way they can justify the horrible brutal killings that happened in Somalia in 1993. So that relates very well to what we have today, when we have over 1,500 people right now in the INS `detention centers.' Because it's about dehumanizing Arab, Muslim and South Asian people. Because that's the only way the U.S. government can justify bombing people as if they're not human, if they dehumanize them. That's the only way they can justify killing close to 4,000 people in Afghanistan, more than the people who perished 9-11 in the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center. Now, Bush wants to extend this war again back to Somalia, and that's why I'm speaking out. He wants to extend it to all these `axis of evil' like Iraq, Iran, North Korea. But Bush, Cheney, Powell, those are the real axis of evil. Those are the real war criminals."

Emira Habiby-Browne, Arab American Family Support Center, NYC:

"Our community feels under siege, wondering that our worst fears have come true, that we will be rounded up and put in internment camps similar to the Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor... The Arab-American Family Support Center continues to receive reports of acts of bigotry and harassment against members of our community. Racial profiling, racial slurs, attacks, evictions, loss of jobs and detentions continue."

Carl Dix, National Spokesperson, Revolutionary Communist Party:

"Sisters and brothers, no one can stand on the sidelines in the face of this. We have to open other people's eyes to the atrocities being perpetrated in our names. We have to pledge to resist roundups and deportations of immigrants. To resist the repressive laws and policies. To resist U.S. soldiers going to the Philippines or anywhere else as so-called advisors helping to crush revolutionary struggle. We must pledge to resist all this. And we have to act on that pledge and let people around the world know that there is significant resistance to the juggernaut of war and repression that Bush & Company are bringing down."

Mhamud Ahmad, Committee for a Democratic Palestine, Chicago:

"The fact is that under the USA PATRIOT Act, these new laws are an easy, simple way to repress any dissident voice, any voice that does not agree with the American government and its policies... The USA PATRIOT ACT is a way to say, `You are now anti-patriotic, you are now a threat.'"

Andy Thayer, Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism/Chicago Anti-Bashing Network

"We're very proud to be associated with Rabih Haddad. This is a man who was kidnapped by the federal government on December 14. I say kidnapped, because what do you call it when someone is whisked away from their home, facing no criminal charges. The government hasn't even produced any evidence against him. He is housed 23 hours a day in a cockroach-infested cell."

Riva Enteen, National Lawyers Guild, S.F.:

"The reality is that the immigrants right now are the most under attack. They're vulnerable to deportation. The racial profiling is really racism. And those of us who do not have immigration vulnerabilities need to speak louder. We need to stand taller. We need to be courageous and stand in the front of the demonstrations to protect the people who right now are most vulnerable. Because if we don't speak now, soon it will be everyone standing here that might get that knock on the door and end up locked up, incommunicado, with no access to attorneys."

Yuri Kochiyama, longtime activist:

"As one of 120,000 Japanese Americans who were sent to an American concentration camp during World War 2, I feel that we understand the plight of the South Asians and the Arabs. We understand what they are undergoing. They are being demonized. They are being harassed, attacked, humiliated. Some of them have been taken away and we do not know where they are... We must watch their backs. An injustice or an injury to one is an injustice and injury to all. We must stop this undeclared war of U.S. terrorism."

Jeff Adachi, former chief attorney for the S.F. Public Defenders office:

"It's so important that we stand together now, that we make a statement of unity now... We are seeing consistently throughout San Francisco policies put in place right here in this courthouse that are going to take us 60 years back in time to the 1940s, to the 1930s, when civil rights were only a dream. I pledge to fight with all of you to make sure that these essential civil rights and human rights that we all value are not lost."

Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Woodland Hills, L.A.:

"I support this National Day of Solidarity and the importance of this day in our journey of understanding. The test of America is whether we can fully understand and integrate the religious and cultural communities in each of our cities in America. This is a wonderful beginning, and I bless this day."

Xoxhitl, R&R! Youth and Student Network:

"Many of us learn of human tragedies like the Jewish Holocaust of the '30s or the internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps and ask, how could this have happened? And many ask themselves what they would have done. We are on the eve of such a historic time, when people of the future will look back in history and judge our actions we take now."

Rev. Meri Ka Ra Byrd, October 22nd Coalition, L.A.:

"In the late 1500s began the Atlantic slave trade where 100 million of my ancestors died. Down through those ensuing 300 years of that slave trade and Jim Crow laws, many of my ancestors disappeared. I cannot stand and walk in this nation each day and allow the freedoms that they died for to be eroded by senseless, evil men and women who do not understand that people, just because of their color, just because of their national origin, does not make them criminals. We will not allow this nation to criminalize them as they criminalized my ancestors."

Yael Korim, Women in Black, L.A.:

"Muslims and Arabs and Palestinians not just here are being stripped of their human rights. In Israel, for the last 34 years since 1967, there's been an ongoing, brutal military occupation of land taken from Palestinians... Women in Black have a history since the mid-'80s of weekly vigils standing up against these military occupations and reminding people that this is the source of the violence that is going on in the Middle East."

Stephen Rohde, attorney and member of Interfaith Community United for Justice and Peace, L.A.:

"This is the promise we make to each other tonight: We will NOT look back on this time only to have regrets that we did not speak up during this dark chapter in American history. We WILL speak up!... We will NOT allow our government to speak hypocritically of standing for justice, when all they do is give us injustice. We WILL speak up! We will NOT allow our government to claim they are defending freedom here and around the world, when they keep people oppressed and violate their rights. We WILL speak up!"

Travis Morales, supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party and member of La Resistencia National Council:

"We must act now. What we do and don't do will have a major effect on how the immediate future develops and how the long term future will look. We have the historic responsibility of stopping their attempts to divide and conquer, going after one group at a time, demonizing each one in the process to justify the repression. Their cause is horribly unjust. We have the strength of fighting a just cause in unity with the people of the world. We can and must stop them."

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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