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On Friday, May 6, the U.S. government froze the bank accounts of Hatem Abudayyeh and his wife, Naima. This unwarranted attack on a leading member of the Palestinian community in Chicago is the latest escalation of the repression of anti-war and Palestinian community organizers by the FBI, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Hatem Abudayyeh is one of 23 activists from Minnesota, Michigan, and Illinois subpoenaed to a federal grand jury in Chicago, and his home was raided by the FBI in September of last year. Neither Hatem Abudayyeh nor Naima Abudayyeh have been charged with any crime.
One of the bank accounts frozen was exclusively in Naima Abudayyeh’s name. Leaders of the national Committee to Stop FBI Repression, as well as Chicago’s Coalition to Protect People’s Rights, are appalled at the government’s attempt to restrict the family’s access to its finances, especially so soon before Mothers’ Day. Not only does the government’s action seriously disrupt the lives of the Abudayyehs and their five-year-old daughter, but it represents an attack on Chicago’s Arab community and activist community and the fundamental rights of Americans to freedom of speech.
The persecution of the Abudayyeh family is another example of the criminalization of Palestinians, their supporters, and their movement for justice and liberation. There has been widespread criticism of the FBI and local law enforcement for their racial profiling and scapegoating of Arab and Muslim Americans. These repressive tactics include infiltration of community centers and mosques, entrapment of young men, and the prominent case of 11 students from the University of California campuses at Irvine and Riverside who have been subpoenaed to a grand jury and persecuted for disrupting a speech by Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the US. The government’s attempt to conflate the anti-war and human rights movements with terrorism is a cynical attempt to capitalize on the current political climate in order to silence Palestinians and other people of conscience who exercise their First Amendment rights in a manner which does not conform to the administration’s foreign policy agenda in the Middle East.
The issuance of subpoenas against the 23 activists has been met with widespread opposition and criticism across the country. Six members of the U.S. Congress, including five in the past month, have sent letters to either Holder or President Obama, expressing grave concern for the violations of the civil liberties and rights of the 23 activists whose freedom is on the line. Three additional U.S. representatives have also promised letters, as thousands of constituents and other people of conscience across the U.S. have demanded an end to this assault on legitimate political activism and dissent. Over 60 Minnesota state legislators also issued a resolution condemning the subpoenas.
The Midwest activists have been expecting indictments for some time. The freezing of the Abudayyeh family's bank accounts suggests that the danger of indictments is imminent.
Take action Monday: Call U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald at 312-353-5300. Then dial 0 (zero) for the operator and ask to leave a message with the Duty Clerk. Demand Fitzgerald unfreeze the bank accounts of the Abudayyeh family and stop repression against Palestinian, anti-war and international solidarity activists.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression and
The Coalition to Protect People’s Rights