Vigils have been held on the 1st Monday night of every month since February 2014, outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in lower Manhattan. Each vigil highlights the specific case of an individual or case.
“No Separate Justice!”. The mission of the No Separate Justice campaign is to highlight the gross abuses of the “war on terror” which have taken place in prisons and courtrooms across the United States. The purpose of the monthly vigils is to keep these injustices before our eyes.
No Separate Justice! campaign is a coalition of community groups, academics, family members and human rights and civil liberties organizations including Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Council On American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-New York, and Educators for Civil Liberties. Brooklyn For Peace supports and endorses this campaign. “No Separate Justice” exposes and works to end a pattern of human rights and civil liberties abuses in “War on Terror” cases in the U.S. criminal justice system. Many of these cases are against Muslims or people associated with Muslim groups.
Individuals and cases highlighted at previous vigils:
Fahad Hashmi (February);
Tarek Mehanna (March);
Shifa Sadequee (April);
Ahmed Abu Ali (May);
Farooque Ahmed (June);
Talha Ahsan and issues of prisoners navigating the celebration of Ramadan behind bars (July);
Yassin Aref (August;) Speakers at the August vigil included Alexis Agathocelous from CCR who is the lead lawyer in the Communications Management Unit (CMU) case that CMU prisoners (including Yassin) brought in 2010.
Shahawar Matin Siraj (September). . Click here for more info on this case. Shahawar Matin Siraj’s case is included in newly published human rights research including both “Illusion of Justice: Human Rights Abuses in U.S. Terror Prosecutions,” produced by researchers at Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Institute at Columbia University and also “Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution” written by the Albany-based human rights organization Project SALAM and Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. “Inventing Terrorists” analyzes 399 federal terrorism cases including Matin’s that have been prosecuted since 2001. The attention being brought to cases like that of Shahawar Matin Siraj, arrested 10 years ago–on August 27, 2004–when he was 22 years old, reflects a growing awareness in the U.S. about the grave abuses taking place in post-9/11 federal “terrorism” prosecutions.
Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka, (October) 3 brothers who all received life sentences in part of one of the most egregious post-911 entrapment cases to date, the Fort Dix Five case. They left behind 6 children who are being raised now by the Duka grandparents.
Interfaith prayer vigil co-hosted and co-sponsored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights-North America) (November)
Newburgh Four case, (December) a case seen by many legal scholars and civil liberties groups as one of the most egregious post-9/11 entrapment cases on record. The family of David Williams, one of the four men convicted in the case, joined us along with David Heilbroner, the filmmaker behind the new HBO film about the Newburgh Four case, “The Newburgh Sting.”
Jan 2015: Retrospective look back across 2014: cases we’ve focused on, and the courageous families who have joined us over the months. (Jan 2015)
March 2015: Updates on a number of recent developments, campaigns, and cases including:
- Amnesty International’s petition asking for UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, to be allowed access into US “supermax” prisons including state and federal facilities where people are held in pre-trial solitary confinement (like the MCC);
- The US Torture Report and a historical overview of torture – on the federal, state, and city level – in the United States;
- Reflections on the Obama Administration’s now six-year promise to close Guantanamo;
- An update on the treatment and trials of British extradite Abu Hamza Al-Masri who has been held at MCC for the past three years and who has numerous physical ailments including no hands and waining eyesight.
- The oral arguments presented on January 13 in Hassan v. the City of New York, a federal case against the NYPD’s targeting and surveillance of Muslim communities in New Jersey
April 2015: Update on UN Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez’s demand to be allowed to visit Federal Prisons, especially Metropolitan Correctional Center here in NYC. Case of Madhi Hashi:
Mahdi Hashi is a youth worker from London who worked with young Somalis in the city, before coming under pressure to be an informant for the British government. He refused and, while visiting family in Somalia, was told by the British government that he had been stripped of his citizenship and made stateless. In the hope of appealing against the revocation, he travelled to neighbouring Djibouti, where there is a British consulate. He alleges he was then arrested by the Djibouti police, interrogated by the CIA, and threatened with torture. He was then flown to New York by the US government to face “material support” for terrorism charges and is currently being held at MCC, where he has spent more than two years in pre-trial solitary confinement under Special Administrative Measures that prevent him from communicating with the outside world.
May 4, 2015: Vigil co-sponsored by: Prison Watch, Healing Justice and Immigrant Rights Programs of the American Friends Service Committee. Focus on the issues of solitary confinement and surveillance, and the historical connections between their current and prior use. Place the abuses which have been highlighted on a monthly basis in the larger historical context, recognizing that many of them are abuses identified and experienced by others in the past.
June 1, 2015: SPECIAL PROGRAM to highlight all those who have suffered from Solitary Confinement, in co-operation with the New York Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement. This event kicked off Torture Awareness Month, highlighting the interrelated abuses in the federal so-called “war on terror” and America’s Mass incarceration system. Narratives from people currently as well as formerly incarcerated, as well as those related to people in solitary confinement. Special Introduction from Journalist Murtaza Hussain whose work has been featured in The Intercept, The New York Times, The Guardian and Slate
Speakers: Hamja Ahsan, Talha Ahsan, Arun Kundnani, Tyrell Muhammad, Michael Mushlin, Victor Pate, Sharmin Sadequee, Carole Willis
July 6, 2015: Focus on issues of paid government informants, agent provocateurs and solitary confinement.
Update on recent cases including the arrest of the two women in Queens on terrorism related charges, the police violence in Boston against a possible terrorism suspect, use of solitary confinement and its impact on Kalief Browder, and the torture amendment to the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act).
August 3, 2015: Lynne Stewart, human rights advocate and civil rights attorney, spoke about her time in the federal prison system as well as the plight of many Muslims face within the American judicial system as a result of American “War on Terror” policies.
September 2015: Update on important cases; sharing and acknowledgement of the purpose and importance of our monthly vigils.
October 2015: Co-sponsored with Witness Against Torture. Focus is the ongoing harassment of Yemenis and Yemeni-Americans by US officials. Vigil will also highlight the case of Tariq Ba Odah, a gravely ill hunger striker at Guantanamo; recent victories in efforts to end solitary confinement in domestic prisons; and the connection between interlocking systems of Islamophobia, white supremacy, mass incarceration, solitary confinement, and other forms of torture. Speakers: Pardiss Kebriaei – Center for Constitutional Rights, Senior Staff Attorney; Jeremy Varon – Witness Against Torture organizer, Professor of History at The New School; Ramzi Kassem – CUNY Law Professor, Director of the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic; Fran Geteles-Shapiro – Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement; Aliya Hussain – Center for Constitutional Rights, Advocacy Program Manager; Luke Nephew – The Peace Poets; Christine Moore – Opera soprano
Vigils will continue on the 1st Monday night of every month to help us shed light on abuses in other cases and build the No Separate Justice Campaign! Please join us. We have plenty of signs to share.
Information on CMU’s (Communication Management Units)
CMUs were covertly established to house high-risk inmates. However, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, many prisoners end up in these units “for their constitutionally protected religious beliefs, unpopular political views, or in retaliation for challenging poor treatment or other rights violations in the federal prison system.” These units are an experiment in social isolation. CMU prisoners are forbidden from any physical contact with family members such as hugging, touching or embracing their children, spouses or loved ones during visits.
Abuses are happening nationwide, but the MCC is itself a site of abuse and torture. Prisoners in the MCC have been held for years in 22- to 24-hour solitary confinement and under gag orders euphemistically known as Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), even before they have been tried. According to the UN’s independent expert on torture, solitary confinement of more than 15 days can constitute torture. Despite its Manhattan location, conditions at the MCC are hidden from public view; requests for access by human rights monitors and the press have been repeatedly denied.