"This is more than a Harbert story. This is a national story. We are a nation of immigrants."
U.S. Representative Fred Upton (Michigan's 6th Congressional District - 8/30/2009)


 Give him Liberty or set him Free!

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December 14, 2005
Dear Friends,

It's been a long road. Sometimes it was too dark, almost no sign of an end. Sometimes it was with some light and hope for a good end. But we were all one every step of the way. No matter what, we were not going to accept anything other than good. As we walk on this road, all of you give me so much that I can stay on my feet. Some of you put aside your regular jobs, your businesses, even family times, most importantly while you have your own health and family dramas, none of those held you back from doing what you did for me. I don't know if I can be there for every one of you the way you have been for me. One thing I can say is that I'm going to continue to be the one all of you believed in, even stronger than before. Your belief in me and determined hard work brought us to the highest level it can be at this point. Senator Carl Levin and Representative Fred Upton touched our efforts with introducing this Bill and giving me the best Christmas gift anyone can imagine. I thank everyone. Just two weeks ago, day after day, I was struggling how to explain to Livia that maybe daddy wouldn't be here for the holiday season again. We got over that all together. Our efforts brought stronger results with what Levin and Upton did. Thank you to Levin and Upton for giving us this gift this holiday season. It was the easiest thing to explain to Livia after I picked her up from school yesterday that she doesn't have to worry about daddy not being here again for the holidays. When I told her that daddy's not going to be taken away from her, her response was "yes, yes, yes." Happy holiday season to all of you, and thank you, thank you.


June 30, 2005

Thank you for the continuing support the last 10 months through this difficult time.  It did make a big difference.  Now it is not over but I'm here and able to give actual hugs to my friends and family.  I am enjoying the freedom I have with Livia and the rest of you.  Again, I thank you for continuing support.  This thing will end with good results.  I'm looking forward to have more celebrations with everyone of you as we get good news.  And special thanks to everyone who made it possible for me to be with Livia on her birthday.

With my best wishes, Ibrahim

June 3, 2005

I have only wanted three things in my life: basic human rights for my people, the Kurdish people, the opportunity to raise my daughter, Livia, in this country, and American citizenship. I came to the United States in 1991 seeking refuge from a struggle between the Turkish and Kurdish people, and this country, my adopted homeland, graciously granted it. I have tried to live a peaceful life, because I know that violence is never the answer. I continue to hope that the Turkish and Kurdish peoples can work out their differences peacefully.
These last ten months have been difficult for me. They have tested my patience and my courage, but not my commitment to America. In difficult times, when great caution is necessary, mistakes can be made. But I am thankful that in America we have a justice system to correct these mistakes. I am also thankful that I did not have to face my struggle alone. The many supporters who have rallied to my aid, all of them everyday Americans, from varied backgrounds, have reminded me on a daily basis what this great country is about.
Today is a special day for me, one that I will never forget. Livia and I thank you from the bottoms of our hearts for your generosity, your faith in me, and your love. May God bless you all and may God bless the United States of America.

Ibrahim Parlak

May 7, 2005

Last night it was the first time I had a peaceful night's sleep since my incarceration. I want everyone to know I still have faith in the judicial process.


May 1, 2005

Forty-third birthday in cell 29

I wish I could send a thank you note to every one of you for making my most difficult birthday a most meaningful one.  Since the middle of April I have been receiving your birthday cards with good wishes and prayers for a better day.  Thank you so much for these things; it keeps me strong and hopeful!

Believe it or not, I do not know the exact day I was born.  Birthdays in the Kurdish village where I grew up are quite different than they are here.  They are marked by nature and are told by our elders.   We know when a person is born by noting the big snow, the big fire, big flooding, cold winter, dry summer and so on.  It was only when I had to register for Turkish school after the age of 7 that an exact date was given to me.  Someone said, May 1st and so my birthday became that day ever since.  Iím not sure if thatís my real birthday or not!

My first American birthday came shortly after I arrived in Chicago.  I went to Truman College to register for school and that is when I met Ruth.  She helped me register for school.  I had no place to stay so she and Karl offered their place to me.  It was the first night I spent in America which had the comforts of a home - a home 16 hours flight away from the home I came from.  I got up that morning, showered and went to the living room.  Thatís when Ruth and Karl came out of the kitchen singing the Ďhappy birthdayí song.  (When Ruth registered me the day before, she noticed my birthday.)  Since then, family and friends have been singing the same song every May.  Then Livia came along and it became more special.  Early in the morning on each May 1st for the past 7 years, Livia and Michele would come and Livia would jump to my bed with a kiss and "happy birthday Daddy!"

Today is May 1st and it is my 43rd birthday.  I woke up late because Iím out of Liviaís reach and she couldnít jump on my bed and give me the birthday kiss to awaken me.  She couldnít sing the birthday song.  In the evening when I made my regular call to Livia, she placed the phone on the table and I begin to hear the Ďhappy birthdayí song over the phone.  I didnít even have to remind her it was my birthday!  That was a great sound.



April 13, 2005

Dear Friends,

In jail I am able to write some notes and respond to your letters, but Iím sorry I have not answered every one who is so good to write.  I was hoping to thank you in person with a hug, but will have to write this letter of thanks instead.

I have been away from all of you for some time now, but the way all of you come forward through this difficult time has made our connections stronger.  Being behind these thick walls makes it difficult for me to do what I would like to do.  A hug, a hand shake, a conversation face to face, a phone call, and a card or laughter (I donít have much laughter), keep us close.  Being separated from all of you makes it hard to keep the connection alive especially since itís difficult for me to write and having limited phone time.  But, my dear friends, you keep overcoming all the difficulty and even when I couldnít answer your efforts you continue building stronger and stronger connections.  Your efforts have been so strong that it did not leave me any other choice but to learn how to write so that I can at least give a limited response to what you continue to accomplish.

The first day I was here I did not know what to expect.  After my cell phone was taken away, I was lost and did not know what to do.  The deputy who booked me asked if I had money for a phone card.   She was nice enough to buy it for me - a $25 card.  After a couple of tries, I learned how to use the card, but soon realized how expensive it is!  I made a call to Huseyin to let him know where I was and another call to the attorney and then the card was out.  It did not take me too long to learn that calling time and money is precious.

On the second day, a deputy handed me an envelope from Michele and Livia with a note and some photos.   Thatís when I realized the new way of things.  I feel so foolish for not wanting to believe how bad the situation was.  I was thinking it was all a mistake and I would be back soon.   It never crossed my mind that it would take months and months.  Almost 9 months actually.   And day after day we learned how to keep the connection strong.

Iím in a pod with 55 other people from many different countries and there are 29 cells - two of them are singles and the rest are doubles.  There is a window in the cell door.  At 3:00 p.m., I can see faces lined up in those windows because this is when the shift changes and the second shift deputy brings the mail.  Everyone tries to figure out if they will get mail or not based on the thickness of the bundles of mail.  At 3:30 when the doors are opened, everyone rushes to the deputyís desk to wait for their names to be called.  The ones who get mail walk away with a smile on their faces.   Then the others, with a deep sadness, slowly pull back from the desk.  This is not an easy thing to watch.  Every day Iíve been here, Monday to Friday, you made me walk away from that desk with a hopeful smile.  Every day.  One of the new deputies asked if it was my birthday and I told him every day is my birthday because I get so much mail.  One deputy even knows which mail is mine by inmate number alone.  I usually wait until the end and then I go pick up my mail from the desk.  Sometimes I do feel bad for the ones who donít get any mail, but we all share our connections to the outside and thatís good enough.

When I feel hopeless and lonely, when I canít see the light at the end of the tunnel, you give me something to look forward to every day.  Sport cards, sport letters, photos to keep memories fresh, articles showing that things are happening, stories to read, jokes, cartoons - all of this keeps me going through this tough time.  I cannot say enough - youíre probably getting the picture by now - about your letters and cares.  Thank you so much for this.

Dear friends and family, these days things are moving along and if Iím lucky - and I sure could use some luck - one thing will open the doors so that I will be with you soon.  I miss you all and I wish you the best of all.



(Smart of me isnít it?  Thinking that with one letter Iím going to make up for the last 9 months!   Well, at least I tried and I think as long as I try I know you will forgive.)

Feb. 23, 2005

Dear Friends:

Itís been a long seven months that I have been locked up here, and all of you out there have been trying to let me out of this hole. All I can say is thank you to you all. I tried to send that message out every way I could but I know it is not enough because what everyone of you did and are still doing is so meaningful. Yes, it is so meaningful that it has been a big surprise to DHS-INS.

My dear friends, over the last seven months I have seen a lot of things that I would never have thought could happen in this country. Lots of disappointment, anger, helplessness and destroyed families. But with the power of support that I received, all that became a good reason to put up a meaningful fight against a new type of racism and injustice. My community put up an example of being a real American, and that small voice has now become so big that even the ones who do not want to listen, end up paying attention, and the small town thing has become a national thing. Yes, my friends, this fight is far from being over and what every one of you is doing out there makes this fight possible, stronger and hopeful. You have to know, if you had done what youíve done, I would not have survived seven days, much less seven months. I needed the strength you have given me to get over the shock and disappointments.

My friends, I can try over and over to explain what it means to me to be a member of the big family, but no word is going to be enough for that. All I can say is that this thing brought out the good a lot stronger and with the power of winning. I want all of you to know that it doesnít matter how hard it is or how hard it gets as long as you are out there holding that light to guide me out of this darkness. I will continue this walk until we are reunited.

Iím trying to find the right words to explain my feelings and what it means to be a member of this big family, but I am unable to find those words. But when that day comes and Iím able to give every one of you the hug I miss to give, then I wouldnít need any words.

Yes, someone tried to destroy my small family, but youíve given me a big family that no one could dream of.
Yes, someone tried to take Liviaís daddy away, but you gave her many daddies.

Yes, someone tried to destroy my future, my dreams, my beliefs, but you gave me enough energy to not just defend what I have, but also to be able to take the fight to a level that others can find strength from.

Yes, you gave me this and a lot more. You did that with ever letter I received from all over the country, with every phone call, with every minute of your busy life you contributed to my cause. With every dollar you dropped into the 'Free Ibrahim' jar, with every sign you put in your yard and on storefronts, with every dish you cook you contribute to my freedom. With every church meeting and prayer, with every family gathering, with every 'Free Ibrahim' t-shirt and button you wear lets the others know that you did not forget me and are not going to and Iím going to keep that in my mind every minute of the day.

I want to say thank you to the reporters who gave fair judgment to my story. And thank you to the columnists who have become a patient voice of my big family and who stand up to the injustice.

And now it is seven oíclock in the morning and I am trying to finish this letter, but it has been much harder than I thought it would be. I have been working on this all night and looking in the dictionary to find the right words, and thinking to remember everything I want to say. But after trying all night, I realized that itís never going to be enough and I just have to wait to express my feelings with that hug. Iím going to ask every one of you to be patient with me for that day to come.

My friends, over the last seven months I have seen a lot of decent fathers being taken away from a lot of American children. I witnessed lots of families being destroyed, and not too many of them were as lucky as me to have all of you out there. And knowing that what you are doing is going to help not just me, but others who are in the same struggle, gives me one more good reason to continue to fight to the end. Yes, the fight is going to continue not just to to the end, but to the win!

Yes, Iím thankful to God that he gave me the opportunity to know all of you, and be part of your big family. Iím thankful that my daughter has a good story to tell. Iím thankful that even though I am locked up in this deep hole, I still have a powerful voice out there.

I just have to say thank you to you all. I will be with you no matter what. Iím going to wait for our day to come and until then, I will hold my head up and fight for the right thing.

With my best wishes,

scanned original

December 12

Ibrahim wanted me to share with everyone few of his thoughts.

Ibrahim was glad to finally have his day in court. He was pleased with they way the hearing went, he is hopeful for a positive result. In his opinion our legal team did a great job. He also wanted everyone to know that the DHS agents who took care of him over the course of the hearing where very gracious and nice to him. He is very grateful for the many friends and supporters attending the hearing and for everything they have done for him. It was very good seeing them. Ibrahim also got to have lunch with his daughter Livia.


August 31, 2004

Dear Friends of Ibrahim:

Today, while visiting Ibrahim, he insisted that I share with all of you his feelings of gratitude for your support.  He expressed being overwhelmed with joy to receive so many letters from so many dear friends.   Your letters fill his days of loneliness with hope in America and the American dream.  Ibrahim stated that your kindness demonstrates the heart of the American people.  He spoke of immigrating to this country to find acceptance and tolerance of those of all races and believes.  Then, with a lump in his throat, he stated that he found in the American people exactly that and much more.  Their letters and support keeps me going, thatís the America I love, he stated.  

When Ibrahim speaks of America, one can tell he truly considers this country his home and himself an American.   When he talks about the American government he refers to it as, 'our government'.   When he talks about U.S. troops, he refers to them as 'our troops.'  He has the American flag flying in front of his home.  This is his home.  He is hopeful that this situation will be resolved in his favor and he will be allowed to return to his home and the community he loves.

Lets continue our efforts so we can preserve the American Dream for Ibrahim. For us, the American Dream means mainly success.  For Ibrahim, it means mainly Freedom and Liberty.



"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."
Abraham Lincoln