[Moussa has been detained at Caroline Detention Center in Virginia for over two years. Below is Moussa’s written testimony]
I was born on November 18, 1989 in the capital of Guinea, Conakry. In my country, I was doing computer installation and maintenance, and wanted to improve my knowledge in the field. Due to the instability of my country and previous arbitrary arrests and torture I experienced, which started when I was around nine years old due to my involvement in politics and activism for human rights, I requested my brother to help me come to the U.S. to study IT. He agreed and helped me apply at NOVA Community College in VA. I came to the U.S. on January 1, 2014 as an international student on an F-1 visa and by way of temporary protective status (TPS). My sister and her husband helped me initially, but they stopped paying my tuition which forced me to drop out of school.
At first everything was fine. Then slowly, things started to fall apart. I started experiencing mental illness. I continued to work hard at school and had good grades. I wanted to make friends, but most people abused me because I was not a citizen. They would threaten to call the police or ICE and deport me. I was forced to buy things or work for them.
Sometime during the end of the year 2016, I lost my job because my TPS renewal was denied. In August 2017, while in a restaurant, I was arrested and remained in custody with no bond. In Arlington jail, while awaiting my trial, I was subject to many abuses. I was physically and violently assaulted by deputies, people incarcerated were denied medical assistance, and I was the victim of medical malpractice. As a direct result of these abuses and other trauma, I started to experience severe paranoia. I was sent to Western Mental Hospital for evaluation and to this day I still struggle greatly with mental illness.
In October 2019, I was taken into ICE custody after being released from my trial. Since this time I have been incarcerated in ICE detention facilities. I was moved to Caroline Detention facility in Virginia on October 19, 2019, then transferred to Farmville Detention Center in Virginia on January 3, 2020 because I was seen as complaining about the condition of my confinement. Due to my struggle with mental illnesses, which include schizophrenia, paranoia, panic attacks, depression, hallucinations, and PTSD, I was transferred to Krome Behavioral Health Unit in Miami, Florida on May 15, 2020 but my experience there was not pleasant at all. I was constantly abused and it only worsened the condition of my health. I came back to Caroline Detention Facility on July 1, 2020. I continue to organize alongside others inside Caroline and make clear that the conditions, punishment, and cruel treatment we experience are inhumane. We experience retaliation as a result.
During my incarceration in ICE custody, I have been denied dental care for over two years. I grind my teeth due to my PTSD and ICE has denied providing me a mouth guard and any adequate treatment. I need a root canal and have not been provided this treatment. Additionally, I continue to find ways to try to cope with my mental illness despite not receiving any proper mental health care. Detention officers are aware of my mental illness so they keep physically and mentally abusing me. Multiple officers have called me “crazy”, saying that I should be kept in segregation. I decline to receive medication or any treatment from the facility while incarcerated because I don’t want to be killed by the medication they are giving me. ICE continues to deny access to court and deny access to my request to receive legal books. I have been kept in segregation for no specific reason and have been threatened to be put in segregation if I stand up for my rights. I have been physically assaulted by other people in detention as well as officers.
I continue to organize alongside others inside Caroline and make clear that the conditions, punishment, and cruel treatment we experience are inhumane.
In Caroline Detention Facility, we are detained in unsanitary conditions. Worms and rust come from the sink. We experience brutal mental, verbal, and physical abuse most of the time. The commissary items are extremely expensive. One ramen noodle costs $0.95, national phone calls cost $0.23 per minute, international calls cost $1 per minute and oftentimes the connection is extremely poor.
I have two sons. One is in Guinea who is 12 years old and the other is in Fredericksburg, VA who is four years old. Last time I saw my youngest son was when he was three months old. How cruel that I can’t even talk to my son. ICE doesn’t really care, and whatever we ask they just said, “remember we are here to deport you.”
Detention took away my dignity. The abuses and mistreatment in detention we face because we are immigrants are not in any way part of what any living being should have to endure. My mom is the one for whom I am fighting for. She is the first lady in my life, a queen who deserves a crown. When I see people who are fighting day and night for my liberation; I also realize I am not forgotten. Liberation is something we all deserve.
A bird without its wings
A fish out of water
A Christian without the gospel and hope of salvation
A soldier in combat with his/her weapon
A speaker deprived of its sound
The bible without the Gospel of salvation
An artist deprived of his/her talent
Earth without the Sun
A Church without members
A singer deprived of his/her voice
Christ without his sacrifice on the cross
Paradise without happiness
That’s how I feel without my liberation and without my freedom.
Freedom for me is resurrection, in this place I feel like a dead man, my release will be my resurrection.
Freedom for me is salvation, I am lost, I will found once I am set free.
Freedom for me is heaven on earth, Dear God may your kingdom come then, I know you will is for me to be Free.
Freedom for me is victory over the enemy, we are fighting, we will be victorious when I am released.
Freedom for me is light in the darkness, I will come out of this darkness when I am released.
Freedom for me is everlasting life there is no price for it.
Freedom for me is being the master of my own life.
Freedom for me is the joy my soul will feel outside this detention.
Freedom for me is the peace of mind I will have away from this place.
I never knew what Freedom was until they took it away from me, that when I knew Freedom was everything worth fighting for. Freedom is the only hope for human race without it there no meaning to our life. NOW I know what Freedom is because I am not free.
- Moussa Haba
Free Them All VA is an abolitionist coalition centered around amplifying the organizing of those incarcerated in Virginia detention centers, jails, and prisons. Our demand to free them all has no asterisk. All means all.