From Democracy Now!:
Majid [not his real name] and his nine-year old son Kevin are Iranian immigrants currently being held at the Hutto detention center. They’ve been forcibly detained since their plane was forced made an emergency landing in Puerto Rico as they made their way to Canada. Kevin says: “I want to be free. I want go to outside.I want to go home to Canada.”You can read the rest here, or listen to it on Real Player here.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to break in for one minute, because we have just gotten a call from the Hutto detention facility. We're joined on the phone by an Iranian immigrant named Majid, from inside the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. He, his wife, his nine-year-old son Kevin have been held at the center for the past nineteen days. Majid, your story is quite a remarkable one. Can you tell us how you ended up at this Texas jail?
MAJID: Hello. Thanks for taking my call. I was on my way to go to Toronto, Canada, and my plane was -- after three hours in the flight, somebody died on the plane and had an emergency landing to Costa Rica. After that, they said everybody should come out. After that, we went out. Immigration, they said you need to have American visa. We had no American visa. And they hold us over there --
AMY GOODMAN: Now, just to be clear, you were never planning to end up in the United States, is that right? You were flying to Canada, but another passenger on the plane had a heart attack, and so you guys had a forced landing in Puerto Rico, and when you had to come out of the plane, while he was taken off the plane, that's when they took you?
MAJID: Yes. This happened, yes -- was a Canadian Zoom Airline, and our ticket was direct from Guyana to Toronto. And this happened. They hold us -- my son is Canadian -- hold child is nine-and-a-half years old, and they put us in detention in Puerto Rico. And from Monday to Friday, I was in the jail in Puerto Rico between criminal people, and my wife and son was other place. We had no news from each other from Monday morning until Friday at noon, until we see each other in a Puerto Rico airport. After that, they brought us here to Hutto Detention Center, and here we are in same part, but different room. My wife and my son is room, but it’s totally inside the room, uncovered toilet. My son has asthma, and he’s very bad and still comes here. It’s very horrible here. And we are in very bad situation. We need help. We need the people help me --
JUAN GONZALEZ: Majid, in other words, basically, what reason did they give you for holding you if you never intended to enter the United States at all? What reason did they give for locking you up?
MAJID: Because they said, “You have an American visa?” That's why you have to stay here. Just plane was waiting one hour for us, but they didn't let us pass. A few officers came. They said Immigration officers -- six, seven -- they said, “We’re going to send you, but let us make decision.” After that, they called the police chief. He came there. He said, “Let me think five minutes.” After five minutes, he came, he said, “I’m going to send you to Canada, but I’m afraid to lose my job. But usually we have to send with your plane, but we keep you here. America is much better than Canada. Here you have safer place. We send you to hotel, and after a few days, you're going to be free.” But they broke their promise. That's why they keep us here, and we have very bad situation here.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Do you know whether any other passengers on your plane were also detained in the same way, or was your family the only one, as far as you can tell?
MAJID: Only my family. No other passenger.
AMY GOODMAN: I just want to say to our listeners and viewers, we are not giving your full name, we’re not showing your face at your request. You did apply for political asylum in Canada in the past when you lived there for ten years. You were ultimately denied, sent back to Iran. And what happened when you were sent back to Iran, you and your wife?
MAJID: Yes. In December 2005, we sent to Iran, whole family, when my Canadian son born. And all documents -- the immigration officer gave all our documents to the captain of plane. After that, in Italy, we went with the Alitalia Airline. In Italy, police came to plane. They took us to [inaudible] room in the transit of Italy, and after that, again, they put us in the plane and give all documents to the captain of Alitalia again. We went to Iran, and in Iran, the plane’s captain said, “You have to sit until the police come to take you.” All passengers went out, and four Iranian secret police came in the plane, and he got all documents from the captain, and they took us in the airport in the secret police office. We were there for a few hours, four or five hours, in the same room.
After that, they separate us. They took me to other place, unknown place. I was in Iran a small cell for six months, and lots of torture and hitting. Now I have physical problem and knee problem and lots of things. And they took my wife to other prison, where we have no news from each other. And for six months, my wife was one year and one month in the prison, and she [inaudible] -- after she was free she [inaudible] the child, and because they [inaudible] him, and she was [inaudible] two, three time in the jail. And it's a very bad situation. But we had no news from each other. They told my wife, because your husband, you have to cooperate with us.
AMY GOODMAN: They said they killed you?
MAJID: Yeah, they a few times told. One time they told her, “He's in coma.” The other time, they said, “Already he was killed.” And, you know, many times they play with her. After one month, they free her in the street at nighttime. They did with me, too, after six months, a lot of torture. And this one, they free me in the street out of the town with closed eyes. And I didn't see anybody, but they took me in daytime some day in winter -- you know, they take my pants off to put in very cold water. They already broke the ice, they put in the water, and they hit me every day, hitting me.
And when I came out, I was less than thirty kilograms, my weight. And my wife was different, six months was under psychologist’s medication over that. And after free, I should register two times a week, every Sunday and Thursday. And when I took -- they took us over there, they took me over there again. One week, they put me in detention, and the other time, again three days. And after that, one guard told me, “I’m going to help you.” After that, he called me, said, “OK, your future is very dangerous. You have to leave. Otherwise, you are in big trouble. I don't know what will happen to you and your family.” That's why we decided and we escaped from there.