Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stewart Detention Center Protest

I will be speaking at a rally in Lumpkin, GA this Friday and also at a workshop on Saturday in Columbus, GA. The workshop is called "Unjust and Unwarranted: The Reality of Immigration Detention in Georgia." The workshop will be in Room 213 of the Columbus Convention Center and is sponsored by and part of the annual SOA Watch events. Details on the Rally can be found in the press release below.

Human Rights Groups Muster Forces in a Vigil, Rally, and Funeral Procession Aimed at Drawing Attention to Violations at the Stewart Detention Center

Press conference and vigil will be Friday, November 20th, at 10:00 a.m., in
Lumpkin town square


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Anton Flores-Maisonet, Alterna, 706-302-9661,

Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia, 404-574-0851,

Atlanta – Georgia Detention Watch today announces a vigil, co-sponsored by
several local and national human rights organizations, aimed at focusing
attention on the treatment afforded to immigrants detained at the CCA-run
Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin. The vigil is expected to draw hundreds
from across the United States, including individuals directly impacted by
inhumane immigration detention policies and practices. The action follows
two previous vigils, several humanitarian visitations, and release of a
report by Georgia Detention Watch which documented violations of immigration
detention standards at the Stewart Detention Center.

"Roberto Martinez Medina and I would be the same age if he were still alive
today," reflected Anton Flores-Maisonet of Alterna and Georgia Detention
Watch on the passing of a 39-year-old immigrant from Mexico detained at
Stewart, who died of a heart infection on March 11, 2009. To date, many
questions about the circumstances surrounding his death remain unanswered.
"This death at CCA's Stewart Detention Center and the allegations that the
center fails to provide basic medical care to detainees should be of great
concern to the County whose name it bears," Flores-Maisonet observed.

A silent funeral march from Lumpkin Town Square to the Stewart Detention
Center will memorialize the death of Roberto Martinez Medina and pay tribute
to the more than 100 other immigrants nationwide who have died in
immigration detention since October 2003

Azadeh Shahshahani, ACLU of Georgia National Security/Immigrants' Rights
Project Director and Chair of Georgia Detention Watch, sees the vigil and
funeral procession as the local reflection of a time in which "significant
concerns are being raised nationally about the inhumane treatment of
immigrants at detention centers and the unnecessary detention of many
immigrants in the first place, often for prolonged periods and without being
afforded basic due process."

Rally on the Square

Bryan Holcomb, a former high-level manager at Corrections Corporation of
America which owns and operates Stewart Detention Center, is the key speaker
for the rally on the Square in Lumpkin. He will provide an exposé on the
depth of irregularities at CCA-run detention centers and prisons, including
high sexual-assault rates. Such abuses led in part to the federal
government's ending the incarceration of children at CCA's T. Don Hutto
prison in Texas.

Herbert Abdul, a former immigrant detainee, will also speak at the rally.
Mr. Abdul was detained for months at the Atlanta City Detention Center and
the Etowah County Detention Center.

Other speakers at the rally will include: Silky Shah, Organizing and
Outreach Coordinator with the Detention Watch Network; Samuel Brooke,
Attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center Immigrant Justice Project; as
well as Flores and Shahshahani.

About the Stewart Detention Center

Located in rural Southwest Georgia, the Stewart Detention Center detains
over 1,750 men, primarily from Latin America. Stewart is run by the
Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, the country's largest
private prison corporation.

Conditions at Stewart: Substandard and Inhumane

An April 2009 report by Georgia Detention Watch on conditions at Stewart
documented violations of ICE's own detention standards at the facility. The
report charged that food and medicine are withheld as punishment and that
solitary confinement is routinely imposed without a disciplinary hearing.

The organizations sponsoring Friday's vigil include:

American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia

American Friends Service Committee

Amnesty Atlanta

Center for Constitutional Rights

Coalicion de Lideres Latinos-CLILA

Detention Watch Network

Georgia Detention Watch

Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

International Action Center

Nipponzan Myohoji Atlanta Dojo

Rights Working Group

School of the Americas Watch

Southern Poverty Law Center Immigrant Justice Project

Texans United for Families

Georgia Detention Watch is a coalition of organizations and individuals that
advocates alongside immigrants to end the inhumane and unjust detention and
law enforcement policies and practices directed against immigrant
communities in our state. Our coalition includes activists, community
organizers, persons of faith, lawyers, and many more.

For more on Georgia Detention Watch, visit our website:

Azadeh N. Shahshahani

National Security/Immigrants' Rights Project Director

American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia

1900 The Exchange SE, Suite 425

Atlanta, GA 30339