Monday, August 11, 2008

AFSC Human Rights Advocate Released

At 10:00 pm on August 5th 2008 the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Border Patrol) released AFSC staff member, Christian Ramirez after nearly 6 hours of unjustified detention and without any charges against him. He was told of the many people who called from throughout the country urging that Imperial Beach Border Patrol Station officials to release him. The American Friends Service Committee thanks all who supported and ensured the release of Christian Ramirez and takes this opportunity to share his letter with you:

"Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am truly moved by the outpouring of support. Thank you so much for the many emails and calls. I am also grateful for the outstanding effort of my friends and colleagues in San Diego; without their coordination, I will still be detained.

There are many things I want to say, I was detained and then arrested for visiting a park where north meets south and the Pacific crashes against the land, a park that I have visited all of my life. I was detained and arrested for bearing witness to the ongoing destruction of that park, for a triple fence will bypass the last place where families can still come together, and see each other through the wall of death that separates our families and communities.

I was able to capture on video most of the incident. My camera, video, and cell phone were all returned. I was detained for two hours at the park and for four (under arrest) at a Border Patrol Station. I spent the four hours in a cell of about 6 feet wide by 8 feet long. I was released as a result of all of your calls.

Just last Sunday, communities from Tijuana and San Diego came together at the park for an ecumenical gathering. Hundreds of people attended on both sides of the border, including my family. On the Tijuana side, my grandmother sat on a lawn chair flanked by my aunts, uncles laughed, we smiled, we sang together and for that moment the 10 foot wall between us disappeared.

After the event ended, we said our goodbyes; I stretched my fingers through the fence and touched my grandmother's fingers, the only parts of our bodies' small enough to cross through. It was only at that moment the wall reappeared with its entire monstrosity.

This special space has been known as Friendship Park. In my mind and the mind of many here in the San Diego-Tijuana border region, a high wall or other barriers will never take our friendship away, and most certainly not our dignity.

Join us as we endeavor to ensure that Friendship Park can be a space for friendship, family gatherings and the peaceful co-existence of two communities. Greetings and again my deepest thanks to the many colleagues friends, family and faith voices who took action for my release.

Desde la herida abierta - la frontera (From the open wound - the border)

Su humilde servidor, Christian Ramirez"