the day Friday, the words of 11-year-old Mohammad Hazahza have filled
him up and weighed him down. On Friday night, he pours the words back
out, as if wanting to be lifted back up.
"Mohammad is so protective of his
mother," says Ralph Isenberg in a weary and reverent voice, recalling
the day's visits to Dallas reporters. "I watched as he got her chair
and made her comfortable. And that's what he did in jail. He protected
her from forced labor. When she was ordered to clean the common area,
he did that work for her. He really understands family and duty."
For mother Juma, jail was a very difficult time. Because of her food
allergies, she has come to rely on some foods. Tomatoes for example.
Family supporter Riad Hamad of the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund
says Juma asked her jailers for tomatoes, but they never gave her any.
Not one tomato in a hundred days. She lost 12 pounds.
"I was shocked at what the jail has done to her physically," says
Isenberg. "There were times when I thought she would pass out. They
are both very traumatized. And all I can say is we're cranking up real
hard for the release of the rest of the Hazahza family."
Like two other families of Palestinian heritage who were abducted by
USA immigration authorities in early November, the Hazahza family had
been split up. Juma and Mohammad were jailed at T. Don Hutto prison in
Taylor, Texas, while father Radi was locked up at Haskell, Texas along
with his four adult children.
The mother and son recall a hard knock at the door and then a crash as
men with guns filled their apartment in a pre-dawn raid on November 2.
Mohammad describes the guns as AK-47s. If that's not the model number,
he was definitely looking down barrels of semi-automatic assault
rifles. The family of seven were ordered out of the house. No time to
change out of bed clothes.
For Juma, memories of America are mixed with memories of life in
Palestine, where she could never stop thinking about the missiles that
flew over the house. She knows what it is like to live in fearful
conditions. But even in Palestine, she had never been thrown into
On their second day out of jail, memories are difficult enough that
Juma and Mohammad might cry once or twice, but Juma is angry and
determined. She will see the rest of her family free as soon as
possible. Then they will get their things out of storage and start
their lives all over again. On to the next reporter, if that's what it
must take. She wants her life back.
Inside the jail, Mohammad was ever the bright and curious kid. He was
certainly not impressed with the school lessons they gave him. Math
was like adding one plus one. Last week he noticed his jailers making
all kinds of sudden improvements to the jail. There was simple math in
that, too. A media tour was coming up. By the time the cameras got
there, Mohammad and his
mother would be gone.
In jail, Mohammad wondered about things like where does the
electricity come from and are the windows bullet proof? He would ask
these questions to guards who carried little black books, and they
would write his questions down. A few days later the guards would
return with questions of their own. Was anyone planning to bomb Hutto
Hideous is the word Isenberg uses to describe the situation of the
Hazahzas, the jail, and the prejudicial paranoia that surrounds a
curious boy from Palestine and his family. Juma has not been allowed
to talk to her husband for 100 days.
Owing to poor construction and design of toilets and bathrooms, the
smell of raw sewage is a nightly trauma at Hutto prison. Who can sleep
with such a smell in the air? The temperature is never right. Either
it's too warm or too cold, except for the water, which is always too
cold. And the sanitation of the cold-water shower room was very
suspect to Juma as herds of men were exchanged for herds of women in
bathing conditions that made her feel very humiliated.
Confirming complaints made weeks ago by the Ibrahim family -- who have
since been released -- Mohammad and Juma talked about prisoners being
made to stand still for cell counts that always lasted too long
because guards could not get the count right.
"They are so hurt, so hurt," says Isenberg as Mohammad's words spill
out. "It's clear that the Hutto facility has the ability to destroy
people, to break their will to want to live. It's also clear that it
will be shut down shortly."
Saturday will be "legal day" for the movement as Isenberg confers with
attorneys about how to get the Hazahzas released. Once again the New
York attorneys Joshua Bardavid and Ted Cox are standing by if a
federal habeas corpus motion is required.
"I'm not used to meeting people who have been in jail for 100 days and
who are perfectly innocent. I'm ashamed to be an American right now.
But the more I see people start to care, the more I have hope."
Greg Moses is editor of the
Civil Rights Review and author of
Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy
He can be reached
Other Articles by Greg
* Faith of
Ibrahim Redeemed: Texas Family Released from Hutto Prison
Without a Country: Maryam Remains in Texas Jail
Responds to Family's Jailing Despite Media Silence
* Why This
War Cannot be a Failure: Dropping the F-word on the Endless War in
Gulag: Palestinian Refugees and Children Held at Hutto Jail
Confronting the Violence of Dollar Hegemony
Psycho-Management Reported at Maquiladoras
Elite Agenda for the Border: Security, Temp Workers, and Oil
* A Little
Fascism Still Goes a Long Way
* Walkout in
Red, White, and Green: What America is Supposed to Feel Like
of American Scientists Warns of Shift Toward Nuclear Preemption
Thanksgiving Delayed: Texas High Court Blesses Excellence and
Nonviolence on Veterans Day?
Back Another Hour in the State of Hate: Texans Ban Gay Marriage
Movement Gathers Power on the Sorrow Plateau
* Mona in
the Field of Crosses at Camp Casey, TX
Building a Saudi City Made a Lefty Out of Dick Underhill, VFP
with the Posse (of Peace)
Teaches Intelligent Design in Prison
* A Gold
Standard for Texas Education
Pushing Back the Violence: Peacemaker Teams Get in the Way
* A Too
Convenient Crisis? Neo-Con Logic at the Border
Vigilante Wedge: Schwarzenegger Reprises Birth of a Nation
* Why I'm
Not Standing with Gringo Vigilantes
Legalizing Law Enforcement in the South Texas Drug Wars
at Halliburton from the Belly of the Beast
Jesus from the Hijackers
* Why are
the Rich Districts Helping the State Rush to Appeal the School Funding
* King and
the Christian Left
Hero a Killer? Not
Real About the Draft
* Boot Up
America! Helmly Memo Leaks Bush’s New Deal
Faxes & A Whisper: Texas Election Scandal
Not Who Bankrolled Falluja
One-Two Punch of Racism: Whitewashing the Voter Fraud Issue