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|Urgent Action! Immigration Detainees Abused in San Pedro, CA!
Released 06 March 2005  By Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI)
On March 5 at the San Pedro detention center near Los Angeles, California,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent M. Lopez verbally abused
44-year old Palestinian immigration detainee Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan and refused to
let him go to the bathroom when he complained of severe stomach pain and fell
screaming on the floor clutching his stomach. Lopez then attacked Iranian
immigration detainee Mohammed Mirmehdi, dragged him into a storage room and
repeatedly punched and choked him. Mr. Mirmehdi has been put in segregation.
Mr. Hamdan remains extremely ill. Neither has received medical care.
Tell Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):
1) Free Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan and all four of the Mirmehdi brothers, without
conditions, NOW, and provide all needed medical care while their release is
2) Remove ICE agent M. Lopez from duty immediately and carry out an
investigation into his abuse of detainees.
3) Allow the media and advocates immediate access to the jail to interview Mr.
Hamdan, the Mirmehdi brothers and other witnesses and to photograph Mohammed
Send your messages to:
Victor Cerda, head of ICE Detention and Removal Office in Washington, 425 I
Street NW, Washington, DC 20536; phone 202-514-8663; fax 202-353-9435; email
(c/o ICE Chief of Staff Shelly Han), email@example.com
Gloria Kee, field operations director of ICE Detention and Removal Office in
Los Angeles, 300 North Los Angeles St, Los Angeles, CA 90012; phone
213-830-7913 or 213-830-7970; fax 213-830-7973; email firstname.lastname@example.org
Send copies to Mr. Hamdan's support committee at email@example.com and to the
Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants at firstname.lastname@example.org
At about 10:20am PST on Saturday, March 5, 2005, Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan was in the
holding area at San Pedro detention center, after returning from the visiting
room, when he felt ill and asked to use the bathroom. ICE agent M. Lopez
refused to let Mr. Hamdan use the bathroom. When Mr. Hamdan doubled over and
clutched his stomach, screaming in pain, agent Lopez did not call for medical
help but instead verbally abused Mr. Hamdan and told him he should urinate on
himself. Other detainees who witnessed the scene were very concerned, and
detainee Mostafa Mirmehdi asked ICE agent Lopez, "What is your name, sir?" with
the hopes of later reporting the incident. Lopez became enraged, and confronted
Mostafa. When Mohammed Mirmehdi came and stood by his brother, Lopez attacked
Mohammed, threw him against a wall and tried to choke him. When Mohammed stood
up, Lopez punched him in the face and stomach repeatedly, then dragged him into
a storage room--where there is no video camera--and continued to punch, choke
and beat him. Lopez also sat on Mohammed's chest, pressing down with his full
weight. The savage attack was witnessed by a number of detainees through the
door and window of the storage room. The witnesses saw visible choke marks on
Mohammed's neck and bruises on his stomach and arms before he was taken away to
segregation, where he remains without medical care as of 4pm on March 5. In
addition, Mr. Hamdan is still suffering from severe stomach pains and has not
received medical treatment.
The assault on Mr. Hamdan and Mr. Mirmehdi comes just five days after Mr.
Hamdan's supporters issued an action alert demanding his release. The action
alert generated dozens of letters to ICE officials and some 400 signatures on a
petition to free Mr. Hamdan, a respected community leader in Orange County,
California, who has never been charged with a crime yet is being held without
bond. Mr. Hamdan's health is deteriorating in jail--he has blood pressure
problems and has been taken to the hospital three times for serious medical
emergencies during his seven months in detention. His family is extremely
concerned about this latest health crisis and is asking supporters to please
step up the pressure on ICE to release him immediately.
Mohammed, Mohsen, Mojtaba and Mostafa Mirmehdi have been in immigration
detention for over 41 months, since Oct. 2, 2001. They have been held longer
than any other post-911 detainees. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruled
they are not a national security threat, and can't be sent back to Iran.
The Mirmehdi brothers have been denied release because two of them went to a
demonstration sponsored by the Iranian opposition group National Council of
Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in June 1997, four months before the NCRI and one of
its affiliates, the Moujahedeen Khalq (MEK), were added to the State
Department's list of terrorist organizations. Yet high-profile politicians
including former attorney general John Ashcroft continued to support these
groups actively as late as 2000, when 228 congressional representatives and 31
senators signed on to a letter supporting the NCRI and MEK. Ashcroft and these
members of Congress have not been charged with supporting terrorists, yet the
Mirmehdi brothers remain in jail.
On Feb. 3, a day before the four brothers were to be interviewed on ABC's
"Nightline," and a few weeks before ICE faced a Feb. 20 deadline to free them
or explain their continued detention, ICE officials laid out a series of
restrictive conditions for their release--including one which bars them from
attending demonstrations or from having any contact with supporters of the MEK
or NCRI. At the same time, ICE cancelled the Nightline interview, saying the
brothers' situation had been resolved. When the brothers refused to accept the
unconstitutional and unfair restrictions, ICE said they were "uncooperative"
and barred the media from further interviews at the jail. Now ICE says it will
not release them.
Press inquiries about the Hamdan and Mirmehdi cases can be directed to
attorneys Stacy Tolchin and Marc Van Der Hout at 415-981-3000, ext. 320.
Mr. Hamdan's support committee can be reached through the Arab American
Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Los Angeles/Orange County Chapter,
The Feb. 28 action alert for Mr. Hamdan can be read at:
For more background information on the Mirmehdi Brothers, see:
Compiled by: Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI) Coalicion para los Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes
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