Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Iranian students/alumni of SUT in Jail:


A story of one of those who wanted to attend Sharif reunion but was
jailed instead.

Dear Dr. Hojabri,

I am one of the deported ones from SF airport. I am sending you this
letter to explain what happened in 24 hours of our stay in US. I wish
SUTA and Iranian Community in US do something that the others can hear
our voice.
Eight of the graduates of SUT and their spouses and I (6 men and 3
women) were traveling by LH454 line on 3rd of Aug which reached there
at noon. At the first of our entrances two officers checked the
passports of all the passengers, they sent me to the other one who
controlled my visa and checked my name by a list. He told me to stay
there. Other Iranian came one by one and all of us gathered together.
At the end four officers companied us to the visa control station. We
passed the lines and four stations controlled our documents as fast as
possible. They told us to go to the immigration office. When we
gathered again, 5-6 officer stood around us and one of them started to
talk. At first, he checked if everybody can understand English and if
everybody is there because of the SUTA Reunion. Then he explained
that, as same as the ones who had arrived last night, without any
known especial reason for them, all of our visas are cancelled and we
should go back to Iran as soon as possible. He told us each of us
should do some Q&A by different officers and meanwhile they would find
seats for us. He said "I am so sorry but it is not under our control".
They took the tags of our luggage and each of us was called by one
officer. In my case, the officer asked me some general questions about
my date of birth, education, my job, my parents, citizenship, SUTA,
etc. He also asked me if I have any fear from going back to Iran. Then
he explained that I have two choice of application withdraw or being
deported. I choose the first one. They took my finger prints and three
different pictures. Then he asked me if I want to call Iranian
embassy. At first I told him we don't have one but then I asked him to
call Algeria embassy where is the safeguarding center of the interest
of Iran ("Daftar e hafez e manaf e Iran"). After 10 min, he told me
his supervisor didn't let him to call there.
Then we gathered altogether again. Around 5:30, when they became sure
that there is no possibility to send us home in the same day my
officer called me to take my watch, money and other valuable things.
When I asked why, he explained that it is not good that we stay there
all the night and they would send us to some place under the custody
of Immigration Office where there are beds to sleep. The other one
added that I should give them my ring and necklace too. I asked if I
can bring my hand bag. He said no. I asked about a book and my ipod.
His answer was no again. I asked if you are taking us to the jail. He
said no but because of your own security it is better to leave your
valuable thing here. Then I asked them if it is possible to call one
of my friends. They let me to call her only for less than one minute.
I asked her to inform my family about my situation. In some cases,
they asked the others to speak in English or use the speaker.
The procedure was similar for the other ones. Till someone told them
that we are hungry and thirsty. They told us it is possible that we
can write our orders and give them money to buy some food. We did the
same. In this time, two other graduates of SUT traveling by United
Airline came there. They were so lucky to find seats in the next
flight and leave there soon. The time was passing and no one gave us
any more explanation. As we were so tired, around 8 p.m. we slept on
the seats. It was so cold and inconvenient. At 9 p.m. that office was
closing and they told us we should be moved to the other place inside
of the airport. Two officers took us to another Immigration office in
another side of the airport. There, we met another graduates of SUT, a
woman who was so frighten and unconscious. She had traveled by KLM
airline.
Around 10:30 two polices with lots of handcuffs and chains came there.
The supervisor of that office explained for us that "The only
available place for you to stay at night is San Jose Jail. You should
go there and obey its entire rules. There is no other choice." One of
the new come officers called me for the safety inspection (it was as
same as the inspection of the criminals in the western films). Then
she fastened my hand by handcuffs and asked her colleague about
fastening my legs by chain. He said that it was not necessary. Then
this procedure was repeated for all of the men. They opened my
handcuffs but took the men by them. Then another police came and did
the security inspection for all of the women. That time, we were four.
At midnight, they took us to the special vehicles for the
transportation of criminals to the jails with different barriers and
metallic doors. We reached to the San Jose Jail.
At first, we passed the metal detectors and filled a form about
height, weight and our clothes and another form about the controlling
of the phone calls. Then the nursery called my name and asked some
question about my health situation and took my blood pressure. It was
a waiting room that other prisoners chained to the seats were waiting
for the other steps. They sent me to the other officer. She took
another picture of me and printed my finger print, palm print, etc and
sent me to a cell. It was a 2x3 room. At the end of it, behind a short
wall there was a toilet and a washbasin. There were two benches and on
one of them a black woman were slept. After 2-3 min, a white addicted
woman came in. She was in a bad mood. She cried; hit her head to the
wall, used the phone and screamed. After more 2-3 minutes other
Iranians came one by one. Two more foreigners were added too. It was
really a bad situation. We tried to release our stress and talked a
little.
At 2:15 a.m. they called us one by one and attached some identity
bracelet to our hands. Those showed our picture, name, one I.D. number
and a barcode. At 3 a.m. two non-uniformed officers called us again
and asked us some questions to define our cells. They asked about, our
orient, membership in gangs, if we had tried to suicide, etc. The one,
who talked to me, said it is apparent that you should not be here and
we try to send four of you to the same cell. At 4 a.m., they called
name of different prisoners, asked us to stay toward the wall and
chained hands of each two people together. We told them that we should
be picked up by immigrant officers in the morning and where are you
taking us. The officer who was the driver too told us that we were
going to the "Santa Clara County- Department of Correction" and
tomorrow we should go to the court.
We stayed in a big entrance lobby. At the right hand, there were
different stations for the officers. At the front, it was the dressing
room containing the prison clothes, blankets and packages of tooth
brush, spoon, etc. Some people with the dress of Santa Clara prison
came there. Some one with chained hands and foots and some people with
ordinary clothes were added. When we reached there, it was so cold and
dark. We didn't know what's going on. All of us were in a bad mode and
frightened. We set there till around 6 a.m. They called some people
who came there with us and gave them the clothes and necessary stuffs
and took them some where else. They also changed the dress of some of
the other and chained their foot and kept them there. After a long
time, they called us to sign the release papers and then we became
more relax that we were going out of that prison.
Around 6:45 a special car van came and two officers came in. They
started with the prisoners and fastened their hands to theirs waist by
chain and handcuff. Then they called us and did the same to us. They
took us to the vehicle. We drove around 15 min and enter a dark,
tightened tunnel. They parked and the officers went out. When we asked
other ones, they told us we were there to pick up the men. After 30
min, the men in our group and some other ones with the same situation,
i.e. hands chained to waist, came in. We drove a long way to reach the
airport. We didn't see any special sign but we could hear the noise of
airplanes. We stayed in the car, under the hot sunshine for 30 minutes
till two officers from the immigrant section came. They opened our
hands and took us to the same office that we were there yesterday.
As we couldn't even drink water, we were not fine and they brought us
tea. They gave us all of our personal stuff instead of our tickets and
passports. Near 11 a.m. we gave them some money and asked them to buy
us some meal. Around 12, near the landing of Lufthansa plane which
contained around 15 graduates of SUT, they took us and our stuffs out
of the office harshly to make it impossible for us to meet them and
let them know what's going on. We were in an isolated lounge for one
hour and then we went to check in the plane. It is worthy to mention
that my return flight was from NY and I paid for the difference of the
flight from SF!!!
When we were waiting, 6 lucky people from that flight came and could
return with us. I should mention that the Lufthansa personnel were so
kind to us and helped us to recover as soon as possible. Now, I am
safe in my house and in my country.
It is a pity that it could be a memorable and joyful trip for all of
us but now it is a nightmare that we want to forget it as soon as
possible.
I am so thankful because of your kind helps and concerns. I wish I can
meet you somewhere else in this big world.
Sincerely,
...

4 comments:

  1. Do you know who wrote this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another question for you:

    Why would the alumni of a school in Iran, should have their reunion in another country, and in this case, in a country that has proved to have spesific issues with their visas?
    Aren't we sometimes too demanding?

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. well, i saw the name in the emial that the SUTA president sent out, and i think s/he is a student of SUTA

    A large number of SUT alumni live in the US, so i guess they prefer the re-union to be held in US ... but
    the problem seems to be the change of US policy to revoke visas all of a sudden, without a specific rationale

    maybe the rationale was related to a warning on a possible terrorist attack??? who knows ...

    ReplyDelete

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