Youngstown, OH- On Thursday August 18, 2016 the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) Rules Infraction Board (RIB) restricted Imam Siddique Hasan, of the Free Ohio Movement, from phone and email kiosk access. In response, Hasan and other Muslim prisoners have begun a hunger strike.
The RIB found Hasan guilty of violating Rule 59 of the OAC (Ohio Administrative Code) Section 5120-9-06 Inmate Rules of Conduct, which reads, (59) Any act not otherwise set forth herein, knowingly done which constitutes a threat to the security of the institution, its staff, other inmates, or to the acting inmate. (http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/5120-9-06 )
According to the RIB conduct report, S. Ishmael, a freelance Imam who leads prayers and religious study classes at OSP and nearby Trumbul Correctional, accused Siddique Hasan of making threats against the institution. On August 1, 2016, Ishmael told OSP staff that Hasan had asked him to wear a suicide vest in to the institution. This conversation was supposed to have taken place during religious study on July 22. Hasan and other Muslims attending the class deny Imam Ishmael’s allegation.
“The staff Imam’s story is an absurd and offensive stereotype.” OSP prisoner David Martin told supporters over the phone. “If Hasan was supposed to have made this threat on July 22, why did it take nine days before the man told staff about it? What was he doing for those nine days?”
Hasan and his supporters believe that OSP administration pushed Imam S. Ishmael to lie against Hasan in order to have a pretext to deny the prisoner leader phone access. Hasan has been using the phones to speak about the struggles of prisoners, the Free Ohio Movement and particularly about the September 9 nationally coordinated prisoner work stoppage and protest.
On Tuesday August 2, Officer Mike Royko of the Ohio State Highway Patrol visited Hasan and asked him about the plans for September 9. According to Hasan, Royko described the ninth as a plot to blow up buildings and harm people during this interview. Hasan said he told Officer Royko that “Somebody must be sending you on a wild goose chase, because there’s no such thing that’s actually happened.”
“September 9 is The National Freedom Movement Day, a day of coordinated nation-wide work stoppage and prisoner protest against prison slavery and torture,” said Tahiyrah Ali of the Free Ohio Movement. “This date is the 45th anniversary of the Attica rebellion, which ended with National Guard troops opening fire on the occupied prison yard, killing 43 people. If we’re worried about violence, we should be worried about the guards and the state, not Siddique Hasan.”
Imam Ishmael has a history with Imam Hasan. According to Mr. Martin, the two have disagreed on doctrine during the class and three years ago Ishmael even tried to remove Hasan from his class list. Other Muslims at OSP have also complained about Imam Ishmael “he keeps on bringing up things like ISIS and Al Qaida, like he’s trying to get us to talk about it,” said David Martin. Now that the Muslims believe the staff imam is making up defamatory and stereotypical lies about one of them, they have all united against the faith leader.
Hasan, Martin and about a dozen other Muslim prisoners began refusing food in protest of the charges on Monday Aug 15. They are demanding that the RIB conduct report against Hasan be thrown out and that Imam Ishmael be fired and replaced by a new Muslim faith leader.
Martin called outside supporters after the RIB hearing, where he testified. “I think even they [the RIB] knows the staff Imam is lying, but because we’re prisoners, they can’t believe us, or find Hasan not-guilty,” he told them.
The Free Ohio Movement has come to Hasan’s aid, “It is important that we stand up to this repression and terror-baiting as soon as it rears it’s head,” says Tahiyrah Ali.
Tahiyrah and The Free Ohio Movement are requesting supporters call the director of the ODRC, Gary C. Mohr, at 614-752-1150 immediately and daily until the hunger striker’s demands are met.
“Ask to speak to the Director Mohr and demand that the bogus conduct report against Hasan be dropped and that the Muslim prisoners be allowed real faith services from an imam they can trust.”
Hasan’s attorney Rick Kerger is also investigating the matter. “Our system of locking people up has not and is not working.” He said, “To capitalize on it through what is effectively slave labor just makes matters worse.”
For More Information Contact:
Free Ohio Movement
1623 Dalton Street, #14939
Cincinnati, Ohio 45250