Activists hold vigil for immigrant detainees on hunger strike

Image from Houston Indymedia.

I contributed a short story on this for today’s Free Speech Radio News headlines. Here’s a less edited version of the story, and my original script below that:

Activists held a vigil on the International Bridge in Brownsville, Texas today in solidarity with detainees at the nearby Port Isabel Detention Center. Up to 200 detainees have been on hunger strike for nearly two weeks in protest of the conditions at the facility. Anayanse Garza of the Southwest Workers Union says the detainees are now taking turns on hunger strike in order to maintain their health.

“It’s a federal facility but they contract out to a corporation for the guards. So these guards and ICE officials have been participating in verbal and physical abuse of the detainees/ Also, some of the detainees have health conditions and the health conditions are not being properly treated, they’re not getting proper medical care. Last time we talked to the hunger-strikers they were stressing that there is no one leader, there’s not even a small group of people spearheading this – this is a effort by that was a collective effort by the detainees at the center.”

Garza says Immigraiton and Customs Enforcement have acknowledged that at least one detainee is on hunger strike after issuing an initial denial. Activists met with local Congressmen two days ago to make them aware of the situation at the facility, and they say they are preparing a National Day of Action in solidarity with the detainees on hunger strike.

For more information see my extended interview with Anayanse Garza on this week’s On the Fringe radio show here. Also see Garza’s post at Houston Indymedia.

It’s incredible that these detainees from around the world, some of whom have been detained for more than eighteen months, have managed come together behind prison walls to protest their conditions (much like the DRIVE Movement did on Texas death row). Look for a forthcoming report on solidarity demonstrations during the National Day of Action.

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