To the editor,
In his article about the plight of Ibrahim Parlak (January 14) Michael Miner has written another penetrating expose of the dangers to our civil liberties the Patriot Act presents when used by right-wing ideologues. It is appalling, and apparently not known to most Americans, that immigration-court judges report to John Ashcroft, the attorney general, as do the prosecutors assigned to argue for the government.
Normally I would have passed over Miner’s article with a cynical nod of disgust at the way this administration regards justice and due process. But our family has been firsthand witness to how the powerful arm of John Ashcroft, and the calloused attitude of Judge Elizabeth Hacker, has wreaked havoc in the lives of our neighbors, the Gazzolo family. We were first made aware of Ibrahim’s background as a refugee from Turkey when he fathered a child with Michelle Gazzolo.
Despite the cultural and ethnic differences between Ibrahim and Michelle and her family, the whole Gazzolo extended family, including cousins, who have no other Middle Eastern connections, accepted Ibrahim and their daughter, Livia, as members of the family. They have given generously of their time and money to help right an egregious injustice on Ibrahim Parlak. Michelle’s cousin worked on the defense legal team as a pro bono lawyer, and her brothers worked hard to raise funds and awareness for his defense. And despite her fight against cancer, Michelle stands by in support of the father of her daughter, Livia.
The Gazzolos, our next-door neighbors in Evanston, turn out to be a source of inspiration for us. Barbara Gazzolo, an ordained Lutheran minister, not only preaches the gospel message of “love thy neighbor,” but she also practices it. But the knee-jerk right-wing ruling of Judge Hacker is a source of our profound disillusionment in the rule of law in this country. We, like so many of our friends and neighbors, are frustrated by the slow and seemingly endless grinding of the mill of justice in this case and fear that the forces of bigotry and fearmongering here might triumph in sending Ibrahim back to probable torture in Turkey.
Michael Miner’s constant vigilance gives us a glimmer of hope that the story will eventually have wider circulation and that Ibrahim will eventually be reunited with his daughter and her mother and the whole Gazzolo family.