"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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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 10, 2009

Contacts: Tara Andringa (Levin) 202-228-3685
                 Sean Bonyun (Upton) 202-225-3761

Levin, Upton Introduce Bills to Give Parlak Permanent Residency

WASHINGTON - Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, introduced bills in the Senate and House today that would give permanent U.S. residency to Mr. Ibrahim Parlak, a Kurdish immigrant living in southwest Michigan. Upton and Levin introduced similar measures on behalf of Mr. Parlak in the 109th and 110th Congresses.

Parlak, a Kurd born in southern Turkey, came to the United States seeking asylum in 1991. In his asylum application, Parlak disclosed that he had been associated with the PKK in the 1980s, that he was involved in an armed skirmish at the Turkish border in 1988, and that he had been imprisoned in Turkey as a result. In 1992, Immigration and Naturalization Service determined that Parlak had a credible fear of returning to Turkey and granted him asylum.

The Department of Homeland Security objects to Parlak's I-485 (Application to Adjust to Permanent Resident Status) because he did not state that he had been arrested in another country. However, in Parlak's application for asylum in 1991, he set forth in great detail his past association with the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) and his resulting imprisonment in Turkey in the 1980s when he successfully sought asylum in the U.S. in 1991, and that he has been a model immigrant and local business owner for many years. This information was available to the immigration official who oversaw his application for Legal Permanent Residency in 1993.

"Mr. Parlak is a good citizen and should be allowed to remain in the United States and continue the honorable life that he has built for his community, his daughter and himself all these years," Levin said.

"Today, we renew our efforts on behalf of Ibrahim Parlak," said Upton. "Although this is a new Congress, we remain steadfast in our commitment to Mr. Parlak as his situation remains unresolved. The bill that I re-introduced today in the House, in tandem with Senator Levin's measure, will grant Ibrahim Parlak and his family the peace of mind of permanent residency in the United States. This exercise has gone on long enough - Mr. Parlak deserves the chance to remain in his community and raise his daughter, without the daily fear of arrest or deportation."

"It is incongruous to conclude that he was intentionally hiding those facts from the Department of Justice in 1993, when he detailed them explicitly to the Department of Justice in 1991," Levin said.

Senate Bill S403         House Bill HR976.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 5, 2007

CONTACT: Martin Dzuris
                  269-469-9957, cell 269-449-0023
                  martin@freeibrahim.com

                  Michele Gazzolo
                  269-470-6726
                  Mgazzolo@comcast.net


U.S COURT OF APPEALS WILL DECIDE IBRAHIM PARLAK FATE

High Profile Deportation Case Reaches Critical Turning Point

CINCINNATI - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will determine whether Turkish immigrant Ibrahim Parlak can remain in the U.S. at a hearing scheduled on October 22, 2007 at 1:30pm in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Parlak’s case has generated national attention because of the overwhelming support for his residency in his home community in Michigan and for questions it raises about the United State’s post-9/11 terrorist policy.

At the center of Ibrahim’s case lie three fundamental, precedent-setting issues: should immigration courts rely on evidence from torture-induced confessions, should the Department of Homeland Security be allowed unlimited discretion to designate any group of "two or more" individuals as a terrorist organization, and should a person be prosecuted for membership in a group that is opposed to the government.

The government seeks to deport the popular Harbert, Michigan restaurateur for his association during the 1980s with an organization that championed the rights of Kurds in Turkey.  Arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Turkish government for his connections to the group, Parlak was granted asylum in 1992.

After 9/11, the U.S. government embarked on deportation proceedings against Parlak, claiming he had terrorist ties and citing evidence from a torture-induced confession he endured while in Turkey.  Parlak was detained in a Michigan jail in 2004 for ten months, but has been free since then pending this hearing.

Local officials and his home community of Harbert, Michigan have repeatedly rallied behind his residency arguing that he is a valuable community member and represents no threat to the interests of the United States.  Parlak has a ten-year-old American daughter. His case highlights many issues of national importance including immigration and immigrant rights, civil liberties in wartime, and how our nation defines terrorism and terrorist organizations.  A decision is expected from the 6th Circuit Court in late 2007.   For Parlak, the court’s decision will mean the difference between residing in the U.S. and returning to Turkey, widely criticized for its lack of civil liberties and use of torture, where his future and freedom is uncertain.

Judge Avern Cohn of the US District Court in Detroit granted Parlak a writ of Habeas Corpus, releasing him from jail in June 2006.  In his written opinion, Cohn sited Parlak as a "model citizen" and "not a threat to anyone or a risk of flight."

Michigan’s Senator Carl Levin and Congressman Fred Upton have publicly supported Parlak’s case and have introduced bills in both houses that would grant him permanent U.S. residency.  Senator Levin stated, "Mr. Parlak is a good citizen and should be allowed to remain in the United States and continue the honorable life that he has built for his community, his daughter, and himself all these years."

Parlak is supported by Friends of Ibrahim, a grassroots alliance of Southwest Michigan residents who support Parlak’s quest for freedom.  His case has gained international attention and has been covered by New York Times, AP, Nightline, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, National Public Radio, South Bend Tribune, Detroit Free Press and Detroit News and many other news media.

###

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2007

Contacts: Tara Andringa (Levin) 202-228-3685
Sean Bonyun (Upton) 202-225-3761

Levin, Upton Introduce Bills to Give Parlak Permanent Residency

WASHINGTON - Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, introduced bills in the Senate and House today that would give permanent U.S. residency to Mr. Ibrahim Parlak, a Kurdish immigrant living in southwest Michigan.  The Department of Homeland Security has threatened to deport Parlak due to his failure to report on his application for permanent resident status that he had been arrested in another country.  However, Levin and Upton maintain that Parlak disclosed in great detail his past association with the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) and his resulting imprisonment in Turkey in the 1980s when he successfully sought asylum in the U.S. in 1991, and that he has been a model immigrant and local business owner for many years.

"Mr. Parlak is a good citizen and should be allowed to remain in the United States and continue the honorable life that he has built for his community, his daughter, and himself all these years," Levin said.

"Today, we renew our efforts on behalf of Ibrahim Parlak," said Upton.  " Although this is a new Congress, we remain steadfast in our commitment to Mr. Parlak as his situation remains unresolved.  The bill that I re-introduced today in the House, in tandem with Senator Levin's measure, will grant Ibrahim Parlak and his family the peace of mind of permanent residency in the United States.  He should be given the chance to remain in his community and raise his daughter, without any fear of arrest or deportation."

Parlak, a Kurd born in southern Turkey, came to the United States seeking asylum in 1991.   In his asylum application, Parlak disclosed that he had been associated with the PKK in the 1980s, that he was involved in an armed skirmish at the Turkish border in 1988, and that he had been imprisoned in Turkey as a result.  In 1992, Immigration and Naturalization Service determined that Parlak had a credible fear of returning to Turkey and granted him asylum.

The Department of Homeland Security argues that Parlak committed fraud on his I-485 (Application to Adjust to Permanent Resident Status) because he failed to state that he had been arrested, indicted, or convicted in any country.  However, in Parlak's application for asylum in 1991, he set forth in great detail his role in the PKK, his presence at a violent exchange with Turkish soldiers and his trials and imprisonment in Turkey. This information was available to the immigration official who oversaw his application for Legal Permanent Residency in 1993.

"It is incongruous to conclude that he was intentionally hiding those facts from the Department of Justice in 1993, when he detailed them explicitly to the Department of Justice in 1991," Levin said.

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March 17, 2006

DHS SEEKS TO OVERTURM ORDER GRANTING IBRAHIM PARLAK FREEDOM

CONTACT:
Martin Dzuris
269-469-9957, cell 269-449-0023
martin@freeibrahim.com

In an attempt to remove any legal obstacles from a potential re-arrest of Ibrahim Parlak, briefs were filed with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals asking the Appellate Court to vacate Judge Avern Cohn’s Habeas Corpus decision, which released Parlak from jail.

Parlak has been out of jail on bond for the last 10 months. In his decision, Judge Cohn stated, "He has been a model immigrant vigorously asserting his right to remain in the United States. He is not a threat to anyone or a risk of flight. He has strong ties to the community in which he resides. He is subject to an unreasonable period of detention pending the completion of removal proceedings given the nature of the case. Under these circumstances, there is simply no good reason to deny him his freedom pending completion of the removal proceedings. Accordingly, Petitioner is entitled to release until such time as his removal proceedings are completed."  Judge Cohn also stated:  "The manner in which Petitioner’s case has proceeded, or rather escalated, raises suspicion as to the actions of ICE [the DHS Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement] under the circumstances."

Despite Judge Cohn’s ruling and the fact that Parlak has meticulously complied with all conditions of his release, DHS has not ruled out the possibility that it will take Mr. Parlak back into custody.  To this date, DHS has presented no evidence suggesting that Mr. Parlak is a security threat or a flight risk.  Even after the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that "the respondent (Parlak) was never held personally responsible for the deaths of two Turkish soldiers," DHS continues to falsely accuse Parlak of "conspiring to murder Turkish border guards" in their reply brief to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This continuous persecution of Parlak has no benefits to our society.  It only places an unjust burden on Parlak, his family, and his community.  Pursuing this case is an inexcusable waste of taxpayer’s money and the resources of DHS, which should be applied elsewhere.  DHS is circumventing the will of the people.  We the people, through representation, govern ourselves.  Our elected officials (Sen. Carl Levin and Congressman Fred Upton) and Parlak’s community have voiced our will for many months, yet DHS has ignored our voice.  DHS has not even responded to letters from our elected representatives, even after they filed a private bill in Congress on Parlak’s behalf.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission is also following in the footsteps of DHS through harassing and persecuting Parlak.  They have scheduled a 2nd audit of Parlak’s records on March 23, 2006.  They specified that no one but Parlak and his attorney can be present at this audit, an unprecedented specification.  They will not even allow his accountant to attend this audit.  This is an attempt to operate in the shadows out of public scrutiny.  During the MLCC hearing, testimony was given by MLCC employees that DHS initiated these attacks against Parlak by the MLCC.  A Liquor Control Investigator testified that she had received several threatening phone calls from MLCC personnel regarding Parlak’s hearing. Read our closing argument

It is obvious that DHS has another agenda other than pursuing justice and enforcing our laws in Parlak’s case. It is time to stop this persecution of a man whose goal was and still is to be a free man and citizen of the United States.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 15, 2006

Another fight for justice for Ibrahim Parlak

CONTACT:
Martin Dzuris
269-469-9957, cell 269-449-0023
martin@freeibrahim.com

On February 16, 2006 at 10:00 a.m., Ibrahim Parlak will appear before an administrative judge to contest a complaint filed by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission Licensing and Enforcement Division.  The complaint, filed on June 21, 2005, alleges that Mr. Parlak neglected to disclose a 1988 arrest in Turkey (three years before his arrival in the United States) on his initial application for a liquor license.

However, Mr. Parlak was granted political asylum and a working permit based on his arrest in Turkey. Mr. Parlak's arrest in Turkey was no secret to our government.  The Liquor Control Commission was not concern about an arrest in a foreign country before Mr. Parlak moved to the USA.

Although the Michigan Liquor Control Commission was aware of Mr. Parlak’s arrest in Turkey at the time he applied for a liquor license, the Commission did not file its complaint against him until after a federal judge ruled against the Department Of Homeland Security on the issue of Mr. Parlak’s well-publicized detention without bond for immigration charges.  Before the judge’s ruling, his arrest in Turkey was common knowledge in his community and within the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.  However, subsequent to the judge’s ruling,  the Commission filed its complaint and refused to allow Mr. Parlak to provide full service in the new addition to his restaurant, Café Gulistan.   The Commission’s actions since the judge’s ruling negatively affects Mr. Parlak’s business and his only means of financial support for himself and his family.

Mr. Parlak has been forthcoming about his Turkish past since the time he arrived in the United States.  Despite his candor and law-abiding conduct here, which has earned him the loyal support of his southwestern Michigan community and members of Congress, the government has persisted in its incessant efforts to harass, stigmatize and deport him.  Having failed to justify their rationale for jailing him without bond, the government now seeks to destroy Mr. Parlak’s business.  Escaping injustice and persecution of this type is the very reason Mr. Parlak fled Turkey and came to America.

This is a public hearing and everyone is welcome to attend.  The Hearing will take place at the Liquor Control Commission General Office Building, which is located 7150 Harris Dr., Lansing, Michigan, in the Jacquelyn Stewart Hearing Room on the second floor.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2005

Contacts: Tara Andringa (Levin) 202-228-3685
Sean Bonyun (Upton) 202-225-3761

Levin, Upton Introduce Bills to Give Parlak Permanent Residency

WASHINGTON - Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, introduced bills in the Senate and House today that would give permanent U.S. residency to Mr. Ibrahim Parlak, a Kurdish immigrant living in southwest Michigan.  The Department of Homeland Security has threatened to deport Parlak due to his failure to report that he had been arrested in another country on his application for permanent resident status.  However, Levin and Upton maintain that Parlak disclosed in great detail his past association with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and his resulting imprisonment in Turkey in the 1980s when he successfully sought asylum in the U.S. in 1991, and that he has been a model immigrant and local business owner for many years.

Mr. Parlak is a good man and a model immigrant,"Levin said.  "He should be given the chance to remain in the United States and continue the life that he has built for his community, his daughter and himself all these years."

"The bill that I introduced in the House, in tandem with Senator Levin's measure, will grant Ibrahim Parlak and his family the peace of mind of permanent residency in the United States,"said Upton. "Mr. Parlak should be given the chance to remain in his community and raise his daughter, without any fear of arrest or deportation."

Parlak, a Kurd born in southern Turkey, came to the United States seeking asylum in 1991.  In his asylum application, Parlak disclosed that he had been associated with the PKK in the 1980s, that he was involved in an armed skirmish at the Turkish border in 1988, and that he had been imprisoned in Turkey as a result of these facts.  In 1992, Immigration and Naturalization Service determined that Parlak had a credible fear of returning to Turkey and granted him asylum due to the persecution that he suffered at the hands of the Turkish government.

The Department of Homeland Security argues that Parlak committed fraud on his I-485 (Application to Adjust to Permanent Resident Status) because he failed to admit that he had been arrested, indicted, or convicted in any country.  However, in Parlak’s application for asylum in 1991, he set forth in great detail his role in the PKK, his presence at a violent exchange with Turkish soldiers and his trials and imprisonment in Turkey.  This information was available to the immigration official who oversaw his application for Legal Permanent Residency in 1993. 

"It is incongruous to conclude that he was intentionally hiding those facts from the Department of Justice in 1993, when he detailed them explicitly to the Department of Justice in 1991," Levin said.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 02, 2005

Ibrahim Parlak to remain free pending judicial review

CONTACT:
Martin Dzuris
269-469-9957, cell 269-449-0023
martin@freeibrahim.com

Ibrahim Parlak will remain free on bond while he appeals his right to remain in the United States to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Despite last week's ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals, in which the BIA threw out the most serious charge against Parlak but affirmed an Immigration Judge's order to deport him, Parlak is still determined to remain in the United States. Parlak’s petition for review of the BIA’s ruling with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is on file and he also filed a motion to stay his deportation, which the government is opposing. Just yesterday a sister appellate court excoriated the BIA and immigration judges in a blistering opinion, stating that the adjudication of these cases at the administrative level has fallen below the minimum standards of legal justice.

In the meantime Parlak and his supporters continue to gather momentum for introduction of a private bill (which would grant Parlak US citizenship) in December when Congress re-convenes.

Parlak met today with several DHS officials during his regular scheduled meeting as part of his conditions of release from DHS detention. The officials were courteous and professional. Various aspects of his case were discussed:

  1. Arrest - DHS will not arrest Ibrahim at this time and if they decide to arrest him in the future they will notify him in advance and give him the opportunity to surrender, because they know he is not a flight risk. He does not have to worry about DHS agents coming unexpectedly to arrest him.
  2. Conditions of reporting - Right know Ibrahim has to report every 2 weeks to Detroit. We have asked if the conditions could be changed not to report so often or to report at a closer location. DHS officials in Detroit have no objections to this proposal, but they have to submit this request to Washington D.C. which they have done. DHS has also informed Ibrahim that if travel conditions are bad on the day of his scheduled visit he can call and cancel the visit.
  3. Work permit - DHS has granted a request for a work permit and issued it right away even though the issuing office was today closed.

Parlak, his legal team and his supporters are pleased with today’s visit and developments and will continue their efforts to obtain U.S. citizenship.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 24, 2005

CONTACT:
Martin Dzuris
269-469-9957, cell 269-449-0023
martin@freeibrahim.com


PRESS RELEASE

JUDGE ORDERS RELEASE OF MICHIGAN RESTAURANT OWNER FACING DEPORTATION FROM U.S. FOR ACTIVITIES SUPPORTING KURDISH HUMAN RIGHTS

Detroit: In news long-awaited by his family and many friends, Ibrahim Parlak was ordered released from federal custody Friday May 20th by United States District Court Judge Avern Cohn, because Parlak’s continued detention violates his constitutional rights. Mr. Parlak still remains in jail as the Department of Homeland Security has 10 days to decide whether to appeal Judge Cohn’s grant of a writ of habeas corpus.

In his decision, Cohn stated, "He has been a model immigrant vigorously asserting his right to remain in the United States. He is not a threat to anyone nor a risk of flight. He has strong ties to the community in which he resides. He is subject to an unreasonable period of detention pending the completion of removal proceedings given the nature of the case. Under these circumstances, there is simply no good reason to deny him his freedom pending completion of the removal proceedings. Accordingly, Petitioner is entitled to release until such time as his removal proceedings are completed." Judge Cohn also stated: "The manner in which Petitioner’s case has proceeded, or rather escalated, raises suspicion as to the actions of ICE [the DHS Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement] under the circumstances. Once Petitioner was labeled a terrorist, the proceedings took on a decidedly more complex, if not high-profile, aura."

Parlak’s family, friends and supporters hailed Cohen’s decision as a milestone in their 10-month grassroots struggle to free Parlak from DHS detention and thwart that department’s efforts to deport Parlak to Turkey.  Parlak was tortured and imprisoned there for activities on behalf of Kurdish human and civil rights in the late 1980s. 

Parlak’s attorney Jay Marhoefer said, "We are pleased with Judge Cohn’s decision.  It is clear that he reviewed the arguments from both sides very carefully and arrived at the only proper conclusion: that Ibrahim Parlak is not a threat or a flight risk and should not be sitting in jail while he vigorously contests his deportation."

Parlak, who owns a restaurant and home in Harbert, MI, and is the father of a seven-year-old American daughter, has lived in the United States since 1991.  He was granted asylum by the U.S. in 1992 and has been described by those who know him as a model citizen.  Three years before the INS commenced removal proceedings against him in 2002, Mr. Parlak applied to become an American citizen.

Longtime friend Martin Dzuris said, "Judges Cohn’s decision is a great victory for justice, freedom and human rights. It is encouraging to see that a federal court looks at this case the same way Ibrahim’s supporters do, and questions not only the validity of Ibrahim’s detention but also the very merits of these deportation proceedings against him."

The DHS has held Parlak in Calhoun County jail since July 29, 2004, labeling him a "terrorist" on the basis of the charges brought against him in 1988 by a Turkish Security Court.  These courts have since been discredited and disbanded by the Turkish government, which acknowledges that Parlak served his time and is not wanted there.  DHS wants to deport Parlak back to Turkey, a country where Parlak was tortured and imprisoned for activities on behalf of Kurdish human and civil rights in the late 1980s.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 12, 2005

CONTACT:
Martin Dzuris
269-469-9957, cell 269-449-0023
martin@freeibrahim.com

PRESS RELEASE

ANOTHER POSTPONEMENT OF WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS PETITION IN THE CASE OF KURDISH IMMIGRANT IBRAHIM PARLAK

Harbert - There has been another delay in Ibrahim Parlak’s petition for writ of Habeas Corpus. Judge Avern Cohn asked Parlak's attorneys to submit a final brief by May 18 summarizing their arguments why Parlak should be released from jail. The judge will then issue a written decision; there will not be another hearing.

Parlak’s family, friends and supporters were not surprised by this latest development. DHS has consistently refused to discuss acceptable conditions of release with Parlak’s attorneys, necessitating the current habeas action. The DHS has never accused Parlak of being a threat to his community or a flight risk.

Longtime friend Martin Dzuris said,"The US constitution guarantees everyone a right to a fair and speedy trial. In Parlak’s case DHS is trying to circumvent this right. We are outraged about DHS’s continuing lack of judgment, prosecutorial discretion and delay tactics in Ibrahim’s case."

Parlak, who owns a restaurant and home in Harbert, MI, and is the father of a seven-year-old American girl, has lived in the United States since 1991. He was granted asylum by the U.S. in 1992 and has been described by those who know him as a model citizen. He applied for citizenship in 1998 and even filed suit three years later when the former Immigration Naturalization Service (INS) had still not ruled on his application.

The DHS has held Parlak in Calhoun County jail since July 29, 2004, labeling him a"terrorist" on the basis of the charges brought against him in 1988 by a Turkish Security Court. These courts have since been discredited and disbanded by the Turkish government, which acknowledges that Parlak served his time and is not wanted there. DHS wants to deport Parlak back to Turkey, a country where Parlak was tortured and imprisoned for activities on behalf of Kurdish human and civil rights in the late 1980s.

***********************************************

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 3, 2005

CONTACT:
Martin Dzuris
269-469-9957, cell 269-449-0023
martin@freeibrahim.com


MEDIA ADVISORY

ATTORNEYS SEEK RELEASE OF MICHIGAN RESTAURANT OWNER FACING DEPORTATION FROM U.S. FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVITIES IN TURKEY

HIGH-PROFILE LEGAL CASE REACHES POTENTIAL TURNING POINT

Freedom for freedom fighter?

WHEN: 2:00 pm onFriday, May 6, 2005

WHERE: US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
              Room 225
of the Theodore Levin United States Courthouse,
              231 W. Lafayette Blvd. in Downtown Detroit

The government has called Kurdish refugee and popular Michigan restaurant owner Ibrahim Parlak "the complete terrorist package" for his involvement in the struggle for human rights for Kurds in Turkey. Yet, as detailed in a March 20th New York Times Magazine cover story, Parlak has never been accused of any actions involving or targeting the US, and he has been a model resident and business owner in his 14 years in the US.

On Friday, May 6, in the US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, attorneys for Parlak will plead his case for habeas corpus, in a bid to be released from jail while his case is going through the judicial process.  According to Parlak’s attorneys, the government had no legal basis to incarcerate him and continues to detain him despite its lack of evidence that Parlak is a threat or flight risk.

Parlak was detained by Homeland Security in July 29th, 2004 based on a communication from the Turkish government about his imprisonment in 1988 in Turkey for alleged membership in the PKK. Parlak notes that the US government was aware that he had been convicted by the disgraced and now-disbanded Turkish Security Court when he was granted asylum in the US in 1992. Parlak received asylum based on a "well-founded fear of persecution" stemming from the brutal and persistent torture inflicted on him by Turkish security forces and police.  However the US government seemed to change its view of Parlak during the war on terror, which has already resulted in a number of well-publicized erroneous detentions of innocent people.

Parlak has gained widespread community support, including long-time customers at his restaurant Cafe Gulistan in southwest Michigan, Roger Ebert and Andrew Greeley. Signs saying "Free Ibrahim" are common in lawns and business windows throughout the area. Parlak is supported by Friends of Ibrahim, a grassroots alliance of Southwest Michigan residents who support Parlak’s quest for freedom.  His case has gained international attention and has been covered by AP, Nightline, The Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press and Detroit News any many other news media.

Parlak’s case is a prime example of how the War on terror is affecting genuine advocates of freedom, human and civil rights. Parlak has never engaged in any terrorist activity and should be allowed to remain in the US with his 7-year-old daughter Livia. As senator Carl Levin said in Benton Harbor on May 2nd in regards to Parlak’s case: "There must be a distinction between a terrorist and those fighting for human rights." Senator Levin has also stated that if Parlak does not succeed in court he is willing to introduce a private bill for Parlak.&

 

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PRESS RELEASE

Harbert, Michigan
October 20, 2004

CONTACT: MARTIN DZURIS, 269-469-9957, cell 269-449-0023

New U.S. Government Charges Based On Old Facts

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) one week ago filed five additional deportation charges against Harbert businessman Ibrahim Parlak. These new charges are based entirely on his activities in Turkey in and before 1988, well before Mr. Parlak’s admission to the United States. The Government admits that these are the same activities that led to Mr. Parlak’s arrest and 1990 conviction by a Turkish Security Court for engaging in separatist activities, and for which Mr. Parlak was imprisoned for 17 months before he came to this country in 1991. In these "new" charges, the Government does not accuse Mr. Parlak of engaging in illegal activity of any kind since his admission to this Country over 13 years ago; indeed the Government has never claimed that he has been anything but a model American since coming to this country.

The Department of Homeland Security filed these "new" charges shortly after Mr. Parlak’s legal team filed an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) contesting Mr. Parlak’s continued detention without bond. In his appeal, Mr. Parlak argued that DHS overstepped the authority granted to DHS by Congress in the Patriot Act. The appeal also argued that the charge of deportability as an aggravated felon was legally indefensible. Had the BIA agreed with these arguments, the DHS would have been compelled to release Mr. Parlak. Instead, DHS is using these new charges as a way to blunt Mr. Parlak’s bond appeal and rectify their legally insupportable conduct ten weeks after taking Mr. Parlak into custody.

The "new" DHS charges are based on old facts. Mr. Parlak disclosed his involvement in the Kurdish rights movement and his arrest, imprisonment and conviction by the Turkish Security Court when he applied for asylum in 1991. Mr. Parlak’s conviction in Turkey was for violating Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code: the "crime" of Kurdish separatism. (This is the same provision Turkey used to prosecute and convict a member of its parliament for the "crime" of speaking Kurdish.) Mr. Parlak was never arrested, tried or convicted for murder, terrorism, or any crime of violence. Instead, Mr. Parlak was punished by the Turkish government for resisting an oppressive and brutal regime, the same practice employed by early Americans in the Revolutionary War, and by Iraqi Kurds in their efforts to overthrow Saddam Hussein (with the encouragement of the U.S. government).

Mr. Parlak’s arrest and conviction in Turkey were procured by torture and other human rights violations that would make his conviction void under both U.S. Constitutional law, and, at least in theory, under then-existing Turkish law. Unlike courts in the United States, however, the Turkish Security Courts that convicted Mr. Parlak and hundreds of other members of the Kurdish minority routinely ignored the use of torture and other human rights violations by Turkish police and prosecutors. Bowing to complaints from the European Union and others about the Security Court’s role in the persecution of the Kurdish people, the Turkish Government just this year finally disbanded the Security Court system.

In 1992, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) properly granted Mr. Parlak asylum, finding that he had legitimate grounds to fear persecution if he were forced to return to Turkey. Twelve years later, the INS’ successor, the Department of Homeland Security, seeks to renege on that commitment and send Mr. Parlak back to Turkey where he remains subject to persecution and possible death.

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PRESS RELEASE
August 7, 2004

Kurdish Michigan Resident Wrongfully Detained by Dept. of Homeland Security

CONTACT: MARTIN DZURIS, 269-469-9957, cell 269-449-0023

Ibrahim Parlak, owner of Cafe Gulistan in Harbert, Michigan, was taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security on July 29, 2004 on the grounds that his activism for Kurdish rights in Turkey in the 1980s make him a threat to national security.

He was detained based on charges from a Turkish military court, for which he already served his sentence in Turkey in the late 1980s. He came to the U.S. 13 years ago and was granted political asylum based on the fact that he was persecuted and tortured in Turkey, but now the DHS is calling him a threat to national security for the very same reasons he was previously granted asylum. No circumstances have changed nor has new information surfaced since the US gave Parlak asylum, and he has no criminal record or violations during his time in the U.S.

Parlak possibly faces deportation to Turkey, where he will be at risk of harm or even death. He is an active contributing member of our society, who brings employment and culture to our community and donates time and money to local causes. He holds pacifist beliefs and does not support or endorse violent means to any political ends.

Ibrahim Parlak was born a Kurd in Turkey a country with numerous human rights violations against the Kurdish people. In his homeland, Parlak experienced punishment and torture from the Turkish government - he was living a life of fear and persecution. Parlak was not permitted to speak his own language, observe his own culture or determine the path of his own life. He became involved in the Kurdish freedom movement, where his actions included writing for a newspaper, educating Kurds in Europe about their heritage,and raising awareness in the Kurdish community about their culture, which was being eradicated. His work was also aimed at gaining political recognition of the Kurds as a legitimate political group, free to speak their language openly, and entitled to representation in the Turkish parliament.

He opened Café Gulistan in 1994, and worked extremely hard to make it a successful establishment and community focal point. He has a daughter, Livia, age 7, who is a U.S. citizen by birth. Parlak is a member of the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce, and owns a home and restaurant in Harbert.


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