On the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 27, award-winning schoolteacher Riad Hamad, founder of the Palestine Children’s Welfare Fund (PCWF) was getting ready to leave for work when the doorbell rang in his modest apartment in Austin, Texas. It was a dozen FBI and IRS agents bearing a search warrant from Judge Robert Pittman, known for his hostility to Palestinians and Arabs, with whom Riad had had previous experience.
For most of the day, the agents searched every nook and cranny of the apartment, then left with more than forty boxes of papers, files, computers and CDs. No charges were filed at the time against Riad and he was not arrested, but the investigators said they had probable cause to investigate wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.
PCWF thus joins the Middle East Children’s Alliance, Kinder USA and Holy Land Foundation – all dedicated to helping Palestinian children as a major part of their work – as objects of investigations that have damaged the functioning of their mission. In no case were these organizations found guilty of wrongdoing.
It is not a coincidence that Riad and PCWF have been targeted. PCWF has been associated with all these organizations, and it is reasonable to assume that when investigations turned up nothing there, they used the references to PCWF to go fishing. Riad has been expecting this for 37 years but refuses to be intimidated, and insists upon exercising his full right to defend Palestinian rights – and his own – in America.
How about you?
Riad lives off his modest schoolteacher salary only. The proceeds from PCWF have benefited thousands of Palestinians with jobs, food, medicine, books, hospital equipment and other humanitarian needs. www.pcwf.org
He cannot afford the costs of defending his legal rights. Will you help? All of us who care about Palestinian and human rights, including our own, have a stake in defending Riad’s.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Call or write your Congressional Representatives and tell them to find out why PCWF and other organizations that benefit Palestinian children are being targeted.
2. Help Riad wth his legal expenses by sending your donations to:
Riad Hamad Legal Support Fund
405 Vista Heights Road
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Further information will be posted as it becomes available at Riad Hamad’s weblog, http://blog.myslantedview.org/