Monday, November 26, 2007

One more political prisoner in the Empire's Dungeons

From today's Democracy Now headlines:

Palestinian Professor Sentenced to 11 Years For Refusing to Testify:

In Chicago, a federal court has sentenced a Palestinian-American activist to more than 11 years in prison for refusing to testify before a grand jury in 2003 about the activities of the Palestinian group Hamas. Abdelhaleem Ashqar defended his refusal to testify saying that he shouldn't have to give testimony that would aid the Israeli government.

Ashqar told the court:

"The only option was to become a traitor or collaborator, and that is something that I can't do and will never do as long as I live." Ashqar is a former associate professor of business at Howard University in Washington. Earlier this year a jury acquitted Ashqar of being a leading member of Hamas and conspiring to support terrorism from the United States.

While Amy Goodman did report this story on Democracy Now, the corporate media did not, or when it did, it did so on page 25, in small print, without any comments.

I mean, how cares, right? Yet another Palestinian academic is getting jailed for refusing to be a snitch. It's not even the first case. Remember Sami Al-Arian, who is now serving time in jail for refusing to testify against former associates?

In both cases the government lost at trial and failed to provide any proof that these academics were linked to terrorism. But that's no big deal, Uncle Sam will jail them for refusing to snitch on their friends.

The most amazing thing is the deafening silence in which all this is taking place. The US academia is silent about this, presumably freedom-loving democrats (small 'd') are saying nothing, probably assuming that, hey, this is not a good time to speak up for an 'AYErab'.

All those who now look away would do well to remember the following words:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)