On Monday night, July 29, 2013, CAIR-Chicago and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) held an iftar dinner in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike in Pelican Bay, Guantanamo Bay, and Palestine. The event raised support for the NCPCF’s National Ramadan Letter Writing Campaign with the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms.
The iftar dinner was free and open to all. Guests began arriving to the registration tables at 6:30 p.m., were welcomed with opening words from the event organizers and were presented with various speakers throughout the evening.
Megan Selby, one of the event organizers, opened discussion by reading two pieces written by inmates, one from Pelican Bay and one from Guantanamo Bay. A Guantanamo Bay lawyer then introduced a client who had been cleared for release 10 years ago but who is still waiting for his release while remaining on a hunger strike.
The discussion’s aim was to reveal injustices at these places, such as wrongful imprisonment, mistreatment in the prisons, lack of evidence for imprisonment and the hunger strikes.
Mark Clements, once a prisoner and a participant in the California Prison Hunger Strike, came to speak at the event, sharing his experiences about conditions, the injustices, the inequality, and the inhumanity of prison life. Clements spoke loud and with passion and conviction.
The speakers then opened the meeting up for small discussions among the 50-75 attendees. After discussions and closing statements, attendees gathered for Maghrib, sunset prayer, followed by a group dinner.
Before leaving, attendees were invited to write personal letters of support, prayer and well wishing to Muslim inmates to be mailed out in time for Eid ul’ Fitr.
CAIR-Chicago aims to provide incarcerated Muslims with the supplies necessary for religious practice and to encourage action supporting the prison hunger strikes.